Vikings Defender Talks about the Loss of Kirk Cousins

The Minnesota Vikings lost a number of their veteran leaders from years past during this spring’s free agency period.

One of those players was QB Kirk Cousins who decided to sign a four-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons after spending six seasons as the head of the Vikings offense. Now, with Cousins and others no longer around, new leaders will have to step up.

One name that comes to mind for such a role is Harrison Phillips, who is entering his third season with the Vikings and seventh overall in the NFL. Last week, the Vikings defender took some time to talk about the loss of Cousins and what it will mean for Minnesota moving forward.

Vikings Defender Talks about the Loss of Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

“There’s gonna be a huge loss. Kirk Cousins as a person, as a leader, as a teammate, that’s a big void in your locker room. One of the most humble guys that I’ve ever been around. Servant leader, just a great motivator. He’s great. To ask one person to fill that void is probably not probable. So what we’re going to do is have a great leadership team, which we’ve already seen,” Phillips told Bobby Kownack of NFL.com.

Cousins obviously played a massive role for the Minnesota Vikings over the past six years. After Minnesota went through some tumultuous times at the QB position following the Teddy Bridgewater injury, the veteran came in and provided stability at the position for the Vikings.

Over his six seasons in a Vikings uniform, Cousins threw for 23,265 yards, 171 touchdowns, and 55 interceptions in 88 games. Minnesota went 50-37-1 in those starts and made the playoffs twice. In Vikings franchise ranks, Cousins sits third in passing yards and second in touchdown passes.

Oct 29, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) gets pressure from Green Bay Packers linebacker Kenny Clark (97) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimately, though, Cousins suffered a torn Achilles in Week 8 of the 2023 season against the Green Bay Packers, and that injury proved to be the end of his tenure in Minnesota. The Vikings spent the remainder of the 2023 season going through a QB carousel between Josh Dobbs, Jaren Hall, and Nick Mullens.

As a result, the Vikings decided to sign Sam Darnold and draft J.J. McCarthy, which sets up a highly anticipated QB battle to find out who will officially replace Cousins this season. It’s a situation that Phillips is somewhat familiar with as he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the same class as Josh Allen.

“I do reflect back to when I came to the NFL with Josh Allen, to see his growth and how he stepped up with his leadership so early on. But also to see how that transition process can go very smoothly. I have a ton of confidence in Sam. … I have full confidence in him that he’s going to go out and win as many football games as he’s allowed to go win for us.

“And I hope that the leadership in that room — Nick Mullens comes to mind a lot about an amazing player who’s been in a lot of organizations, he’s a true professional — I think that the combination of those two players will do everything they can to lift J.J. Like I said, that’s above my pay grade about how those chips fall,” Phillips explained.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Oct 29, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) reacts after making a stop in the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

After being led by the offense over the past few years, the Vikings may need to rely on Phillips and their defense in order to remain competitive. Brian Flores helped rejuvenate that group in 2023, and with some strong additions in free agency along with the draft selection of Dallas Turner, the unit should continue to improve in 2024.

Phillips is only entering his third season in Minnesota, but he is still one of the longest-tenured Vikings defenders on the roster. Only Camryn Bynum, Patrick Jones, Josh Metellus, and Harrison Smith have been with the team longer.


Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. 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.

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