The Kirk Cousins Situation Changed at the NFL Combine

Kirk Cousins
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Minnesota Vikings fans were moseying along, enjoying the weekend, and biding time until the start of NFL free agency, which is about one week away.

The Kirk Cousins Situation Changed at the NFL Combine

But then the final segment of the NFL Combine occurred, changing the landscape of the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes.

The last comments regarding Cousins, who is scheduled to become a free agent in one week, were the same as the last several months: the team wants him back but at the right price. The head coach loves him. So do the players. The general manager thinks Minnesota can win a Super Bowl with him, and if he can find the right pricepoint, Cousins will be back for a seventh season.

Cousins Situation Changed
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But then Kevin O’Connell started talking about Cousins in the past tense and claimed the veteran quarterback had “earned the right” to explore free agency. The last phrase was rather odd. Credible reporting also suggested the Atlanta Falcons are making a push for Cousins’ services.

So by the time the NFL Combine capped, Cousins felt further out the door than ever.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Connell said Saturday about his quarterback’s 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.”

Earned the right to be a free agent is strange verbiage — one would be hard-pressed to find similar comments about a player getting an attaboy for hitting the open market — but O’Connell seemed to mean that Cousins has every right to secure a bag of cash from another team.

Gets the CNN
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Connell also hinted at tampering in Indianapolis, “The combine gave everybody else an opportunity, whether they’re supposed to be or not, to maybe have some conversations.”

For better or worse, tampering is real, and little can be done about it.

Then, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini took a turn at the Cousins Sweepstakes, connecting the Falcons to the process, possibly as the tamperers. “Over the next month, I’m keeping an eye on the Falcons. They believe Cousins is the type of player who moves them from a fringe playoff team to a contender. New Atlanta head coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Zac Robinson both have familiarity with Cousins. Knowing this could be a seamless transition for Cousins and the talented young group of players across their roster, I expect the Falcons to compete for the rights to his contract. It makes all the sense in the world,” she wrote.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

More than ever before, Cousins’ next team feels like a two-horse race between Minnesota and Atlanta. Cousins may face an ultimatum — optimize his bank account with guaranteed money from the Falcons or embrace a lighter payday with complete continuity as a Viking.

Heading into the Combine, the Vikings were a slight favorite to keep Cousins for Year No. 7. But O’Connell’s words might’ve dragged the grand offseason domino back to the middle as a coinflip, perhaps now leaning toward the Falcons.


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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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