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Adofo-Mensah & O'Connell on Intention for Kirk Cousins, Attention on QBs

EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings would like Kirk Cousins to stay in Minnesota.

It's not that simple, of course. Salary cap must always be considered, and negotiations lie ahead between both parties. On Monday, Cousins explained his thoughts on re-signing and continuing to quarterback the Vikings in 2024.

Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell spoke Wednesday with media members, and Adofo-Mensah was asked directly about his desire to re-sign Cousins, who is set to become a free agent in March.

He answered just as directly.

"I think I have been pretty consistent with that. Kirk, the player, is someone that we saw what he does [for] this team," Adofo-Mensah said. "I thought we were playing really good football before he got injured, and it is the most important position in sports.

"Ultimately, it always comes down to can you find an agreement that works for both sides and all of those things, but as a player, it is certainly my intention to have him back here," he added.

Adofo-Mensah acknowledged the reality that reaching a deal likely means some give and take from each side.

"I think there are a lot of factors that go into negotiations, right? So there are levers that you pull that if you get this thing, maybe you give up this other thing," he said. "We have a really great shared history with [Cousins' agent Mike McCartney] and his other representatives, so these aren't new conversations that are happening. Each side kind of understands the other, and we're going to go have those conversations and see where we end up."

Cousins said Monday he's "not going to force anything" but did express a mutual interest in remaining a Minnesota Viking.

Asked whether Cousins is open to a "hometown discount" after being in Minnesota for six seasons now, the quarterback said the structure of the contract has his interest.

"I do think it's important to be aware of. I think God has blessed me financially beyond my wildest dreams, so at this stage in my career, the dollars are really not what it's about," Cousins said. "I had a coach who I was with, who was a younger coach at the time, this was back eight, nine years ago, before my first franchise tag, and we were talking about the situation and he made a great comment and he said, 'Kirk, it's not about the dollars, but it is about what the dollars represent.' I thought that was an interesting comment that he made.

"There will always be some of that, but at today's point, structure is probably more important," Cousins added.

View home and away photos of the Vikings 2024 regular season opponents.

Are the Vikings open to building a contract that includes guaranteed money for a quarterback who will celebrate his 36th birthday in August and is recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon?

As Adofo-Mensah pointed out, age is a factor – but it's only one factor in the equation.

"It is age. It's injury, but it is also performance. How do you believe the performance will go? And there's different examples through time," Adofo-Mensah said. "Obviously, you have to also pay attention to the person and what he puts into his body and how regimented and detailed he is. All those factors go into it.

"But, at the end of the day, we are just taking risks, and we try to measure it as best we can and protect ourselves and ensure against it," Adofo-Mensah continued. "On his side, he is trying to take less [risk]. That is his job, and they should do that, and we will try and find a place in the middle and see where we end up."

View photos of Head Coach Kevin O'Connell and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressing the media during a press conference to close out the 2023 season.

It's worth keeping in mind, also, the Vikings are not necessarily choosing between Cousins (or another veteran) or drafting a quarterback. Both things can be true.

"[Quarterback is] the most important position in our sport, so you want to be thinking long term and short term, and ultimately the Vikings are going to pursue actions that help us in both windows, and that is open to any position in the draft, whether we picked 11th (where the team is currently slated) or 23rd," Adofo-Mensah said.

While eyes are sure to focus on what the Vikings do with the starting quarterback position, the team's leadership also will evaluate backups after starting four different players for the first time in franchise history.

"I think you definitely learned through the second half of the season just the ebbs and flows of playing multiple guys … and just taking the whole inventory of it," O'Connell said. "I just am huge fan of quarterback development in itself. I think Kirk Cousins has been a guy that put in the time. From when I coached him previously [in Washington] to come in here excited about the opportunity to really build and grow side by side with Kirk, building what we believe to be a chance to have a special offense."

View photos from the Vikings locker room at TCO Performance Center as players cleaned out their lockers at the close of the 2023 season.

O'Connell noted the unique quarterback situations around the league this season, though, during which 66 different QBs started for teams.

The critical need for depth at the position couldn't be clearer.

"As far as backups, in some cases playing two or three or four guys – are you equipped? What's your roster around that player look like? How do you need to maybe adjust the way you try to play the game and win with a complementary style differently than you originally intended?" O'Connell said. "I do think it's something we have to pour into both the development of the guys on our roster and then as we acquire players, in all positions, really taking a look at what does our depth look like.

"It seems to me much more of a premium at the quarterback position because so many other factors of your team rely on that position being to a certain standard to have a chance to win football games," O'Connell added.