Kirk Cousins Says He Signed Vikings Contract to 'Earn the Right' to Retire with MIN

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 12, 2022

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
AP Photo/Jim Mone

Quarterback Kirk Cousins said Monday he signed an extension with the Minnesota Vikings with an eye toward retiring as a member of the franchise.

"My mindset was really to be a Viking," Cousins told reporters. "I would like to retire as a Viking, and so I would like to play my way into that, if you will. I know I've got to earn the right to do that."

The 33-year-old QB's new contract runs through 2023 and includes a $34.1 million cap hit for 2022 and a $36.3 million cap hit for the following season.

Cousins is a tough case to analyze because his raw stats, which are typically strong, don't always match up with the outside view of his performance.

The Michigan State product has completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 16,387 yards with 124 touchdowns and just 36 interceptions in 63 games across four years as the Vikes' starter. Those numbers aren't indicative of someone on the hot seat.

Yet he's never ranked above 13th in ESPN's Total QBR over that span, and Minnesota has only qualified for the playoffs once during his tenure. The team's record is 33-31-1 since 2018.

The question is whether Cousins isn't a game-changing quarterback or if the Vikings haven't surrounded him with enough talent to emerge as a Super Bowl contender. Perhaps it's a combination of both.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection said Monday he wants his play to provide the answer.

"If I could draw it up, it'd be, 'Play well enough that you never have to play or wear another jersey anywhere else,'" Cousins said. "I'm going to work really hard to try to make that possible."

The former Washington Commanders starter said proving he's the right person for the job starts with elevating his all-around performance on a consistent basis.

"It's staying healthy, it's playing at a high level, it's protecting the football, it's making plays, it's leading your teammates, it's playing with poise, toughness, all the things it takes to be a great quarterback," Cousins said.

The Vikings feature the playmaking talent to rank among the NFL's top offenses, led by running back Dalvin Cook and wide receivers Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn.

It's an important year for Cousins if he wants to eliminate uncertainty about his future in Minnesota. Anything less than a playoff appearance would be a disappointment.