Vikings' QB Kirk Cousins has torn Achilles, will miss rest of 2023 season

The Minnesota Vikings made official Monday what was feared immediately after a 24-10 win over the Packers at Lambeau Field: Kirk Cousins suffered a torn Achilles.

Cousins went down with about 10 minutes to play in regulation with a non-contact injury, trying to scramble on a 3rd-and-19 play. His right Achilles pops before he is tackled to the ground. He was unable to put any weight on his right leg coming off the field, and after a brief stint in the medical tent, was taken off the field on a cart.

An MRI taken Monday confirmed Cousins tore his Achilles, and is out for the season. Team officials said a timeline and details of his surgery will be determined this week.

"Me personally, our whole team, our whole organization, we’re all hurting this morning for Kirk just knowing how much he’s invested in this team. We’re going to miss him, there’s no doubt about it," Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell said. "My expectations are in the dialogue with Kirk, he has every intent of still being a major part of our leadership, a part of the quarterback room, a part of our plans each week. I don’t expect anything less from Kirk."

He had thrown for 274 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game. For the season, he was second in the NFL with 2,313 passing yards and tied for the NFL lead with 18 touchdowns. 

Cousins has previously never missed a game in his NFL career due to injury. The only game he's missed with the Vikings was in 2021, when he was on the COVID-19 list.

"He’s already discussing timelines and when he’ll be ready to go. Kirk Cousins loves playing this game, he takes a lot of pride in playing this game and being as durable as he’s been throughout his career, so this is going to be new for him," O'Connell said.

The timing for Cousins' injury couldn't be worse, with the Vikings on a three-game win streak and back to .500 at 4-4 after an 0-3 start. The Vikings are also 2-0 in the NFC North Division, with Cousins playing some of the best football of his career, arguably at an MVP level.

Vikings safety Josh Metellus, who had an interception in Sunday's win, sat next to Cousins on the plane home.

"Devastating obviously, but as a team and as a leader on this team, we’ve got to find a way to band together even stronger. Other than Kirk, we had our best offensive player go down not too long ago and found a way to win three games. It’s all about leaning on the process," Metellus said.

With Nick Mullens on injured reserve, rookie and fifth-round pick Jaren Hall is now the quarterback. That’s unless the Vikings make a trade before the Tuesday afternoon deadline, or sign a free agent.

O'Connell did not rule out that the Vikings will bring in a player not currently in the building. They're down to Hall and Sean Mannion for now. There will be many conversations between O'Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah leading up to Tuesday's trade deadline.

"You wouldn’t believe some of the things on my cell phone I’ve received in less than 24 hours. That dialogue, it’s what’s going to be best for our ability to win football games, but also knowing we’ve been living in a world where we want to be as competitive as possible right now while also understanding we’re building for the future," O'Connell said. "There is probably no more direct communication outside of us getting an open mic between his office and mine, it might come in handy here."

O'Connell added, "I think the conversations that lead you down that road help clearly define the answer based upon, is it a short-term-only thing? Is it something that could be more long-term? Is it something that truly is an upgrade versus just the sheer dealing with the reality of a tough situation right now? That's what we have to work through."