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O'Connell & Adofo-Mensah Update Progress on Talks with Kirk Cousins

INDIANAPOLIS — This city famed for fast cars making laps of left turns toward a finish line is also providing the staging venue for the NFL's new league year, which will open speedily with a green flag on March 13.

Teams are reconnecting with agents of players who are set to become free agents to discuss potential contract extensions.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to become a free agent, which led to questions for Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell and General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah on Tuesday when each participated in podium interviews at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

Adofo-Mensah said negotiations with Cousins are "in a great place."

"Kirk, obviously again, another person we've had these dialogues the past couple of seasons, had a great conversation with him a few days ago," Adofo-Mensah said. "We have our interests. He has his. We'll get to the table to see if we can figure out a creative solution and kind of meet in the middle. That's what every contract negotiation is. And that's what it'll be with him.  "What we do know is, we have a really great quarterback, a great leader, somebody that we think we can win the ultimate prize with," Adofo-Mensah added. "And so that's ultimately what I focus on. And that's where we're at right now."  Cousins helped the Vikings go 13-4 in 2022, the first season under O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah. Minnesota opened 2023 with a 1-4 mark before ripping off consecutive victories at the Bears, against the 49ers and at the Packers, but Cousins suffered a torn Achilles at Green Bay, ending his season. The Vikings won the next two games (at Atlanta and against New Orleans with a relief effort and start by Joshua Dobbs) but closed the season 1-6 while riding a QB carousel with Dobbs, Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall. O'Connell explained his appreciation for a multi-year relationship with Cousins that began when the two overlapped in Washington in 2017. 

"My family and his family are close. So then we come here two years ago, and Kirk was a huge reason why I thought so highly, amongst a lot of things, about the Minnesota Vikings opportunity, because of my belief in him," O'Connell said. "We've won a lot of games over these past two years with Kirk as our quarterback, and I thought he was playing as well as anybody in the National Football League when he got hurt after beating the Packers at Lambeau last year, coming off a Monday night win over the team that represented the NFC in the Super Bowl."

Cousins posted a video Monday that showed him going through his dropback motion (at an indoor tennis court rather than a football field).

"It's been awesome to see him through his rehab and where he is now, really get back up on his feet and attack this thing," O'Connell said. "But my feelings on Kirk Cousins, they really have not wavered in two years, and if anything, they're stronger now, having gone through a lot of adversity together. We've had a lot of success, as well."

Cousins entered free agency in 2018 after spending his first six seasons with Washington. He's moved up the all-time franchise leaderboard in multiple statistical categories.

"It's not Kirk's first time in free agency. Kirk Cousins knows how I feel about him; I've held no secrets there. He knows how the Minnesota Vikings feel about him. I believe Kirk wants to be a Viking, and we're going to work to try to make that the outcome," O'Connell said. "I think anytime you go into situations like this, it is a negotiation, you're trying to come to an agreement that really works for both sides, as we continue to not only build our football team for 2024, but we're trying to do some things to help us sustain for the future, as well.

"I feel like Kirk is smart, and as intelligent as he is, my communication is always strong with him – weekly dialogue – and I feel like we're heading toward a good place with Kirk," O'Connell added. "But like we've seen in free agency, the uncertainties from this time of year, you've gotta be ready in a leadership role to have contingency plans and adjust on the fly."

If Cousins does return to the Vikings, he'll have a new position coach but have more continuity than at other times in his career. Josh McCown was hired Tuesday, and the team named Chris O'Hara as a pass game specialist.