Kevin O’Connell’s Strange Comment about Kirk Cousins — Explained

Wacky Justin
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The 2024 NFL Combine is in the books, and the NFL Draft gets underway in 52 days.

Kevin O’Connell’s Strange Comment about Kirk Cousins — Explained

The Minnesota Vikings met with most, if not all, of the draft’s top quarterback prospects, one of the major purple news items from the event.

Strange Comment
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But then head coach Kevin O’Connell got in front of a microphone, chatting with NFL Network’s Rich Eisen on Saturday. Vikings-themed news items were supposed to be done, but O’Connell placed the Kirk Cousins Sweepstakes front and center once again while replying to one of Eisen’s questions in the booth.

Eisen basically asked O’Connell what’s the deal with your quarterback, a fair question as free agency is one week away. O’Connell said Saturday about Cousins impending free agency, “I know where he’s at in this whole process. He’s earned the right to be a free agent, and he’s played really good football. I know he’s going to go through a full process. He’s a process guy. And hopefully, we continue to be a strong part of that process, and we figure out a way to keep him a Minnesota Viking, but my expectation is we’re not going to be the only ones that would like Kirk Cousins to be the quarterback of our team in 2024.”

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Curious wording indeed, there is a method to the verbal madness.

It is unclear if a head coach or general manager has ever said a player has “earned the right to be a free agent.” Hitting the open market isn’t really an achievement. In fact, it typically means the previous employer is content with letting the player depart.

Coach Still Has
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But underneath O’Connell’s comment is some submerged context. In all likelihood, O’Connell meant that Cousins has every right to seek the fattest bag of cash available. That is — because the Vikings didn’t finalize an agreement last year, the typical time for a productive quarterback who otherwise wouldn’t sniff free agency, Cousins has “earned the right” to pursue pocketbook optimization.

Moreover, Cousins performed remarkably well before an Achilles tear ended his 2023 campaign. Some ardent Vikings fans called it the best football of his career, fresh off the steam of toppling the then-mighty San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.

Builds for Kirk Cousins
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Per O’Connell, Cousins’ 2023 was so impressive, albeit prematurely punctuated, that the guy has the right to go find $45-$50 million per season that Minnesota may not be able to afford.

That must be O’Connell’s motivation. Otherwise, handing out attaboys for free-agent tours is a brand new beast never before championed.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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