Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has always proven himself. He’s ready to do it again.
He has thrown for 20,934 yards and 153 touchdowns across 80 games with the Vikings.
ST. PAUL -- As an 18-year-old growing up in Michigan, Kirk Cousins remembers preparing for college without any knowledge of what lies ahead. He was the starting quarterback for Holland Christian High School at the time, and despite some moderate interest from some schools, he still hadn’t received a scholarship offer.
“I’m going into my senior year with no scholarship offers,” he remembered. “I walked off the field the last game of my high school career with no scholarship offers.”
After almost every game, Cousins remembers a local reporter from the Holland Sentinel asking different variations of the same question: How was he handling the sea of unknowns?
“If you win football games, and do your part, and put your work in, the rest will take care of itself,” Cousins said. “That certainly happened in my high school career.”
That mindset followed Cousins to his college career, where he won the job at Michigan State during his sophomore year and never gave it back. That mindset then followed Cousins to his professional career, where he was a backup with the franchise now known as the Washington Commanders before taking over as the starter.
Now it’s helping Cousins navigate his current situation with the Vikings, where he doesn’t have a contract beyond next season. A couple of months ago, Cousins agreed to restructure his contract, adding more void years, which essentially allowed the Vikings to free up some cap space without signing him to an extension.
“I’m looking forward to this year and wanting to go out there and prove it again,” Cousins said. “That’s really where my focus is.”
Seen it before
This isn’t the first time Cousins has had to prove himself in the NFL. He twice played on the franchise tag at his previous stop before the Vikings signed him to an unprecedented 3-year, $84 million deal that was fully guaranteed. Since then, both sides have worked out a couple of extensions, meaning this is the first time Cousins has played for the Vikings without a commitment beyond next season.
Asked if that bothered him, Cousins joked that it’s been more than the norm throughout his career. He added that most players in the NFL don’t have job security, which, in some ways, can be a good thing because it forces everyone to operate at his best.
“There should never be entitlement,” he said. “You’ve always got to go play.”
That has been enough for Cousins throughout his career as he’s consistently put himself in position to get paid.
Though he has become a polarizing player in Minnesota largely because of his huge contract, Cousins has also put together some impressive performances that shouldn’t be overlooked. He has thrown for 20,934 yards and 153 touchdowns across 80 games with the Vikings, most recently leading them to an NFC North championship last season.
In the past, Cousins has made it clear he wants to retire with the Vikings. That hasn’t changed even if they’ve put him in a position where he once again has to prove himself.
“I want to be in Minnesota,” he said. “That’s kind of a no-brainer, so hopefully we can earn the right to do that.”
As someone who preaches staying in the moment, Cousins manages to do that by going back to the lesson he learned when he had no idea where life was going to take him. If he simply focuses on winning football games, the rest will take care of itself.
“I’m encouraged and excited because I do think I have a lot of good football ahead of me,” he said. “I feel positive about the future looking forward and I go back to how this has kind of been a part of my story.”
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