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Before Kirk Cousins played his senior season at Holland Christian School in Holland, Michigan he had no college scholarship offers. And by the time he finished that final prep season, he still had no offers.
That prepared him for the situation he’s in with the Minnesota Vikings in 2023 — which could be his final season with the team.
The Vikings, you see, understand Cousins is entering the final year of his contract. And with their starting quarterback pushing 35-years-old before the regular season begins, the club is comfortable letting things play out.
Cousins Rejects Entitlement
So maybe Cousins re-signs next offseason. And maybe the franchise and the quarterback go in different directions.
“I think in this league there should never be entitlement,” Cousins said. “You’ve always got to go play, and teams can do whatever they want to do. That’s their prerogative. So, um, you just go to work and do the best you can. I’m just encouraged and excited because I do feel like I’ve got a lot of good football ahead of me. So I got to go out there and earn that. But I feel positive about the future.”
To be clear: Cousins wants to stay with the Vikings after this coming season.
We know this because on Wednesday he plainly said: “I want to be in Minnesota. That’s kind of a no-brainer.”
But Cousins also added, “Hopefully, we can earn the right to do that.”
Kirk Cousins No Stranger To Uncertainty
This is great because despite the fact Cousins will be playing his sixth season with the Vikings and 12th in the NFL, he feels great about tackling the uncertainty of tomorrow.
He embraces it.
“I go back to how this has kind of been a part of my story,” Cousins told reporters. “In high school, I remember the Holland Sentinel, our paper in my hometown, asking me my senior year of high school, going into my senior season with no scholarship offers.
“And there were schools looking at me. So I knew I had a chance but no scholarship offers.”
Not much had changed for Cousins after that season.
“I walked off the field the last game of my high school career,” Cousins said. “No scholarship offers. And so that whole season you get the question from the Holland Sentinel like, ‘How are you focusing on that? How are you handling that?’ I learned you got to focus on winning football games.
“And if you win football games and do your part and put your work in, the rest will take care of itself. That certainly happened my high school career. Then you get to college, the same thing happened in college.”
The same thing happened when Cousins was drafted by the then-Washington Redskins and eventually became their starter.
“This is my fourth time in this league going into a season with free agency on the horizon,” Cousins noted.
Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Will Decide
It happened after the quarterback’s fourth NFL season when his rookie contract was set to expire. It happened twice after that when the Redskins were forced (or decided) to use the franchise tag on Cousins.
Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who was the primary decision-maker on the Cousin contract status this year, will have another huge call to make after the season in whether he tries to retain Cousins. Or lets him walk as a free agent.
The refreshing thing is Cousins not only isn’t complaining about the situation, he’s embracing it.
“It’s more the norm than the exception,” Cousins said. “The exception is if you have something penciled in for future years. Most of our locker room has no idea what’s coming in three or four months let alone three or four years or next year.
“So I feel like I’m one of the guys, if you will. We’re all in this together and that’s how this league works.”
Cousins turned what is a clear issue within the Vikings front office, among their fans and obviously in the media into a feel-good narrative.
Cousins: ‘Everybody Has An Edge’
“Everybody has an edge, everybody has something to prove and nobody can operate with entitlement or comfort and put in less than their best,” Cousins said. “I think that’s a great thing about our league.”
The Vikings their homework on quarterbacks before last week’s draft. One didn’t fall to them and they didn’t deem trading up a worthwhile venture.
But rather than it showing the Vikings are sold on Cousins, who threw 29 TDs and 14 interceptions last season, it actually is a sign the team is leaving all options open.
That’s an open door for everyone. And an opportunity for Cousins to stay in Minnesota as much as a threat he’ll be gone after the season.
“There’s a lot of things I’d like to have,” he said. “You have to go earn it.”
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“The Vikings their homework on quarterbacks before last week’s draft.” _did_ their homework?