If quarterback Kirk Cousins was disappointed that the Vikings drafted Kellen Mond, he’s not letting on.
The Vikings selected the quarterback from Texas A&M in the third round on April 30. He could be the eventual successor to Cousins, who has put up good statistics in three Minnesota seasons under a hefty contract but has led the team to just one playoff berth.
“There was good communication through the process, and Kellen’s been great, working hard and picking up our offense quickly,” Cousins said Wednesday in his first comments since Mond joined the team. “So, it’s been a good process.”
Speaking to reporters on Zoom after a practice during the third and final week of organized team activities, Cousins said he plans to help Mond as much as he can. He said he has done that previously with young quarterbacks Nate Stanley and Jake Browning, although it must be said that neither had been regarded as a potential threat to his job.
“You’re an open book, you’re helpful and you’re there and make yourself available,” Cousins said. “I had (quarterback) Rex Grossman when I was a rookie (in Washington in 2012). … It was great to be able to learn from him, and he was a big part of my early development as a football player.
“I really took every word he said to heart because I felt he’d been there, done that and he should know what it looked like. I hung on his every word. I’ve been there and want to certainly be that same resource whenever possible.”
After six seasons with Washington, Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings in March 2018, then a two-year, $66 million extension in March 2020. Cousins in on the books with fully guaranteed salaries of $21 million for 2021 and $35 million for 2022, with cap hits of $31 million and $45 million, respectively.
It remains to be seen whether the Vikings will want to keep paying Cousins huge dollars after 2022, or if he could become trade bait before then. In the meantime, Cousins is working closely with the quarterback who one day could replace him.
“The big piece right now, and I lived it back in 2012, is just being able to take in the volume of offense that’s thrown at you,” Cousins said. “The terminology is likely new, the plays at times are likely new.”
Cousins also has been working on his own game. He said he has spent more time watching more film than ever before and plans to continue that practice after offseason drills conclude with a June 15-17 mandatory minicamp.
“I decided to go back and really watch my whole career, watch a couple other offenses to see what they have been doing, or what they did the year they had a lot of success,” he said. “I do think that time looking at tape through the winter and spring, and even now as I go home through the summer after next week, I do think that it’s helpful.”
Cousins said he wishes he had done more of that earlier in his career. He had a shaky start last season, throwing 10 interceptions during a 1-5 start, but finished the season with 13 interceptions and a career-high 35 touchdown passes. Still, the Vikings finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
An improved defense could help Cousins in 2021. The Vikings faltered on that side of the ball in 2020 but since have signed some notable additions, and gotten back several key players who missed time such as Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter, Michael Pierce and Eric Kendricks.
“There’s a lot of great players on the defense,” Cousins said.
How well Cousins players over the next two years could determine his future in Minnesota. In the meantime, indications are he is helping Mond as much as possible.
“At practice, (Cousins has been) keeping up his confidence, just congratulating him on a good ball or a good play, just studying things with him, going over things with him,’’ said wide receiver Justin Jefferson.