O’Connell ‘expects’ Cousins ​​to become Vikes’ QB

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EAGAN, Minn. – Kirk Cousins ​​is part of the Minnesota Vikings’ plans for the 2022 season. At least for now.

At his inaugural press conference on Thursday, four days after helping lead the Los Angeles Rams to victory in the Super Bowl LVI, new Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said he expects Cousins ​​to remain quarterback in Minnesota despite questions about his future.

“Well, I know he’s under contract and I’m excited to train him,” O’Connell said. “We’re already starting to think about how to build the systems for him and our other quarterbacks and really the huge skill group that we have, our guys up front. It takes all 11 to move football on the offensive, to run it, throw it, score points in the red zone. But I expect Kirk to be a part of what we do. “

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah sat next to O’Connell during the press conference at the team’s headquarters and reiterated O’Connell’s position.

“I’m excited that he’s excited to coach him and lead him, and we’re focused on building the team around him to set ourselves up to get the best we can,” said Adofo-Mensah.

Cousins ​​enters the final year of the $ 66 million extension he signed in 2020, which comes with a hit of $ 45 million, the third highest of any player in the NFL. Speculation has been rife that the Vikings could choose to move on from the quarterback this offseason via a barter deal due to the financial constraints his contract puts on Minnesota’s salary cap after the team failed to reach the playoffs in the back-to -back years.

The 33-year-old quarterback’s $ 35 million base salary for 2022 was guaranteed in March last year, three years after he signed a historic three-year, $ 84 million fully guaranteed contract in Minnesota as a free agent.

If the Vikings decide to keep Cousins ​​in the fold, they could look to extend him for the second time to lower his cap number for 2022 or let him play the final year of his contract out as it is.

Although he would not go into the details of Cousins’ contract, Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf reiterated his belief that Minnesota will be competitive next season with Cousins ​​as quarterback.

“Kwesi and Kevin have talked at great length about it,” Wilf said. “I definitely think, and even more so now that we’ve got our leadership in place, that we’re built to succeed right away. We feel very confident about that, and as you’ve heard before, we want to work with “Kirk as our quarterback, and we’re moving on from there. But by 2022, we’ll definitely be super-competitive. Sustained success is the goal, and I think we have that with this leadership.”

O’Connell, who spent the past two seasons as the Rams ‘offensive coordinator, was Cousins’ quarterbacks coach in Washington during 2017. Cousins ​​threw in 4,093 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his final season in Washington when the team finished with at 7-9 record.

During O’Connell’s interview with the Vikings, co-owner Zygi Wilf said he was impressed with the coach’s background as a quarterback and believes that “he will bring out the best in [Cousins] and he will increase the offense to another level. “O’Connell played in the NFL from 2008 to ’12.

Part of O’Connell’s vision for the attack is rooted in strengthening Cousins’ skills. When asked to compare the Vikings ‘quarterback to the Rams’ Matthew Stafford, O’Connell said both are “elite pitchers”. The coach said Minnesota can “build an offense to maximize what [Cousins] do it best, “adds that many of the concepts” people have seen our offense do in LA [they] will definitely see our offensive do here in Minnesota. “

“Kirk has played at a very high level and he’s done a lot of really good things throughout his career,” O’Connell said. “I know who he is as a player and I know what he is capable of and part of our job as coaches is to maximize a player’s ability to go out every single Sunday and be successful.

“I feel it will be to our advantage when we build our system offensively, make sure we really focus on the things Kirk is doing well, which I think are many aspects of playing the position, and help him on a daily basis. “Connect with his team, lead us, be a completely calm quarterback who can play because he is talented enough to do so, and put him in the best possible situations to succeed.”

O’Connell said he will call offensive games in Minnesota. He last undertook to play on-call duties in Washington after Jay Gruden was fired in the 2019 season.

The Vikings are an expected $ 15.5 million above the salary cap for 2022. The new league year and free agency begins March 16 at. 16 ET.

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