Vikings QB Kirk Cousins on his future: ‘There is no entitlement in the NFL’

The Minnesota Vikings host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to open the 2023 regular season on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, and could it be the last home opener for Kirk Cousins?

The Vikings have several roster decisions to make after this season, and the possibility exists that Cousins will enter free agency. The two sides had discussions about a new contract this past offseason, but they reportedly did not go very far.

Cousins is entering his 12th NFL season, and sixth with the Vikings. He helped lead Minnesota to its first division title in five seasons last year, but still has just one playoff win. The scenarios exist that the Vikings bring back Cousins in 2024, he leaves for free agency and the Vikings either trade for another quarterback, or hope they find their next one in the NFL Draft. Cousins’ focus is on the now. He said Wednesday he hasn’t felt his job is safe since playing in high school.

"I think that’s been my whole life in this league and I think that in training camp too when I go out there, I view it as I’m only as good as my last pass, my last practice. It’s sort of been life for me. It basically felt like you’re going out there every day and putting your job on the line," Cousins said. "For the last 16 years, that’s kind of the life you live. I think when you take it that seriously, that lends itself to having success more days. If we win football games, everything else will take care of itself."

"He knows that I fully support him not only as our captain and starting quarterback, but he knows my feelings towards him. All he’s done since Day 1 is enhance who I believe Kirk Cousins is as a quarterback, leader and man amongst our locker room," Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell said.. 

But does Cousins feel like he should be playing for his job? Cousins earned his third Pro Bowl in four years in 2022, throwing for more than 4,500 yards and 29 touchdowns despite being sacked a career-high 46 times. He has 153 touchdowns and just 50 interceptions in five seasons with the Vikings.

Cousins referenced something he heard Tom Brady say after Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted by the Patriots in the third round in 2014.

"Tom made the point that there is no entitlement in the NFL. If there is entitlement in the NFL, that organization is probably doing it wrong. I think it’s healthy when players need to go out every day and nobody is entitled to anything. That’s a healthy way to run an organization," Cousins said. "It’s going to bring out the best in all of us. If it ever isn’t that way here, I would be the first one to complain."

Cousins also shed some light Wednesday on how he tries to prepare for defenses that are always evolving and giving new looks. That’s especially the case Sunday, facing the Buccaneers in Week 1. He read a book over the long weekend, and a quote from a Navy seal stuck with him.

"He made the comment that a rule in battle no plan lasts past first contact with the enemy. I thought that was pretty good," Cousins said. "We all have our plan, but no plan really lasts after your first contact with the enemy. Something is going to happen, and how do we course correct? Week 1, we sort of live that."


The importance of Sunday’s game is not lost on Lewis Cine. The now second-year safety out of Georgia was just starting to make an impact and getting defensive snaps last year when his rookie season ended after a devastating leg injury against the New Orleans Saints in London. After surgery and a rigorous rehab process, Cine played in the preseason and is ready for Week 1.

"This is a big step for me. I’m only looking at this game like let’s warm back up to where I was last year. Putting my mind right to just go," Cine said.


Dalvin Cook is gone, released in the offseason and now with the New York Jets. The Vikings brought back Alexander Mattison, and he’ll play his first game Sunday as the Vikings’ starting running back. He could’ve gone elsewhere in free agency, but one of his reasons for coming back to Minnesota was the chance to start and have a bigger role.

A third round pick in 2019, Mattison has 1,670 yards, 11 rushing touchdowns and one receiving score as a No. 2 running back. But it’s his time to be the starter, ahead of Ty Chandler and Myles Gaskin with Kene Nwangwu on injured reserve.

"It feels good, I’m blessed to be in this position. Blessed to have ownership and leadership that believes in me, blessed to have teammates that believe in me and I’m just excited to have the opportunity," Mattison said. "The first week, that excitement just to be back in action is there. Try not to put too much pressure on anything, try not to make it bigger than what it is."


The Vikings released their first injury report on Wednesday, and linebacker Troy Dye (elbow) was the only name on it. He was a full participant, and every other player was on the field at practice. The Vikings are healthy, and that's a big positive heading into Week 1.