Vikings Kevin O’Connell on Kirk Cousins: ‘He knows how the Vikings feel about him’

The NFL Scouting Combine is in Indianapolis this week, and every team in the league has representation there as the top college prospects get seen ahead of April’s draft.

It’s also a chance for NFL coaches and general managers to get together, which lead to conversations ahead of free agency and the draft. Kirk Cousins is at the center of the NFL offseason, eligible for free agency in about two weeks if Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and company can’t reach an agreement to bring Cousins back.

Adofo-Mensah, Kevin O’Connell and Cousins are all in alignment publicly when it comes to him staying in Minnesota. But what happens when they sit down to talk contract is what matters. O’Connell said Tuesday from the NFL Combine the same thing he’s said about Cousins since the season ended: He wants him back.

"My feelings on Kirk Cousins haven’t wavered in two years, if anything they’re stronger now. Kirk Cousins knows how I feel about him, I hold no secrets there. He knows how the Minnesota Vikings feel about him, I believe Kirk wants to be a Viking and we’re going to work to try to make that the outcome," O’Connell said. "Any time you go into situations like this, it is a negotiation, you’re trying to come to an agreement that works for both sides."

Cousins wants to return, but he also likely wants a multi-year deal and guaranteed money. He said after the season it’s more about what the money represents and less about the actual dollars. He wants a commitment after being in Minnesota for six seasons.

The Vikings want to keep him, but they also have to plan for the future after his career is done. If they bring him back and invest a first round pick in a quarterback, that player likely won’t play for two years. 

Cousins was leading the NFL in passing at 2,331 yards and 18 touchdowns when he tore his Achilles, playing the best football of his career. He posted videos on Monday dropping back and making throws on a tennis court, four months removed from the injury. He wants to be ready for offseason workouts, regardless of which team it’s with.

O’Connell said one of the things that led him to taking the Vikings’ job was having No. 8 lead the offense. He’s been in regular contact with Cousins since the season ended.

"Kirk was a huge reason why I thought so highly about the Minnesota Vikings opportunity. Because of my belief in him, we’ve won a lot of games over these two years with Kirk as our quarterback. He was playing as well as anybody in the National Football League when he got hurt," O’Connell said. "It’s been awesome to see him through his rehab and where he’s at now. I was not surprised to see that video based upon my dialogue with him."

Along with Cousins, the Vikings have decisions to make with getting an extension for Justin Jefferson, and Danielle Hunter’s pending free agency. We’ll find out in a few weeks where the Vikings are headed.