Kevin O’Connell Gives Another Aloof Answer Regarding QB Kirk Cousins’ Future

Kevin O'Connell Gave Another Aloof Answer Regarding the Future of QB Kirk Cousins
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell on the sidelines against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

For the past couple months since the Minnesota Vikings were eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Giants, many conversations have returned to old faithful: what will the Vikings do with QB Kirk Cousins?

Well, it seems apparent that the future of Cousins in Minnesota may quickly be dwindling before our very eyes. As free agency was set to get underway, the Vikings converted a large chunk of Cousins’ 2023 cap hit into future void years, meaning that not only did the QB not receive an extension to stay with the team, but he also has $28.5 million in dead money on the books for 2024 if he does not suit up in a Vikings uniform.

Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks David Blough (2), Kirk Cousins (8) and Nick Mullens (12) during practice at Hanbury Manor. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This, along with yet another aloof answer from Vikings leadership, this time from head coach Kevin O’Connell, continues to point towards Minnesota looking to replace the veteran with a rookie-scale player in 2024. This morning, O’Connell answered questions from the media at the annual NFL owners’ meeting, and when asked about Cousins, here was his response, per Dianna Russini of ESPN:

“I’m just excited for Year 2 for him in this offseason. … The goal is for 2023 to be one of the best seasons of his career, and when that happens, it’s going to be a great thing.

What is the Biggest Need for the Minnesota Vikings in 2023?
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

It is arguable that 2022 was one of, if not the best season that Cousins has had in his 11-year NFL career, and there is very little reason to believe that 2023 can’t be similar to that. The Vikings QB completed 65.9% of his passes for 4547 yards, 29 TDs, and 14 INTs last season, but what impressed the most was his ability to come through in clutch situations. He led the Vikings to 8 fourth quarter comebacks and had 8 game-winning drives over the course of the season.

Unfortunately, this clutch-gene did not translate to the playoffs, leading to all the scrutiny that had followed Cousins throughout his career to come crawling back to the forefront of discussion. He played well during the game, completing 31-of-39 passes for 275 yards and a pair of TDs, but a decision to throw behind the first-down marker on 4th-and-8 in a do-or-die situation is the throw everyone will remember from that performance.

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell and New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll embrace after a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Cousins certainly has proven to be an above-average QB during his time with the Vikings, but the problem largely comes down to numbers off the field rather than the ones on the field. Those numbers are, of course, his cap hit. Even if Cousins has one of the best seasons of his career in 2023, this simply ensures his price tag approaches the market price of $40 million.

Meanwhile, a rookie QB in either the 2023 or 2024 Draft would cost less than a quarter of that money. It also seems like, behind the scenes, the Vikings are unconvinced that Cousins’ best years are in front of him based on the reports that they turned down a cheaper three-year extension with him earlier this offseason.

Overall, the more that leadership from the Vikings continue to give vague answers regarding their future plans with Cousins at quarterback, it sheds light that there may be no plan with him at quarterback after all. If the Vikings draft a quarterback in April, then it all but determines that the team is looking towards life after Cousins as soon as 2024.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.