Vikings had ‘complete alignment’ in Kirk Cousins’ departure

Minnesota Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell met with reporters on Thursday for the first time since Kirk Cousins left the team in free agency.

Less than two hours into the NFL’s negotiating window on Monday, Cousins and the Atlanta Falcons had agreed to a four-year, $180 million contract with $100 million guaranteed. Cousins wanted guaranteed money and a long-term commitment, and the Vikings couldn’t deliver either.

Cousins signed that contract Wednesday night. Late Monday night, the Vikings agreed to a one-year deal with Sam Darnold, Brock Purdy’s back-up with the San Francisco 49ers last season. The Vikings also lost Danielle Hunter, and Jordan Hicks in free agency.

"These decisions are never easy. Saying goodbye to Danielle Hunter is not easy, saying goodbye to Jordan Hicks is not easy. There’s always change in sports teams, there’s no sports team that’s been the same one year to the next," Adofo-Mensah said Thursday at TCO Performance Center. "Change doesn’t mean that the memories that you’ve made, the relationships that you had, all that stuff wasn’t real and meaningful. Change often times just means opportunity, and we accept that."

Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell said the team and front office was in agreement that they couldn’t keep Cousins in Minnesota with a contract comparable to what the Falcons had offered.

"There was complete alignment with how everything played out from the standpoint of our plan for Kirk. Sometimes things just don’t work out," O’Connell said. "The most important thing is that alignment and understanding that our plan is in place. As much as I would’ve liked to have Kirk here, the right thing moving forward for our team is where we are today."

"We’ve been very clear since we’ve gotten here that we like Kirk Cousins. We’ve been very clear that we think we could win a Super Bowl with Kirk Cousins. But we have a sport that only gives you a certain number of draft picks, a salary cap, it’s a resource-constrained thing. We weren’t able to find that, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t compete for him," Adofo-Mensah said.

The Vikings say they have a plan at quarterback going forward, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll take one high in this year’s draft. The expectation since the end of the season, without bringing Cousins back, is that Minnesota would use its No. 11 pick, or move up in the first round, to find its next franchise quarterback.

Adofo-Mensah wouldn’t commit to that Thursday.

"No, I would not say that. As we enter this draft, we have the flexibility to go either way. The answer isn’t some strict thing," Adofo-Mensah said.