Harrison Phillips Opens Up about Vikings’ Big Offseason Loss

Pretty Wonderful on Tuesday
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Heading into the 2024 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings welcomed 14 new players via free agency while watching as 16 departed for new teams. Then, between the draft and undrafted free agency, Minnesota kept going, adding 24 new players in a three-day period.

Harrison Phillips Opens Up about Vikings’ Big Offseason Loss

But no offseason move was as seismic as Kirk Cousins’ departure to the Atlanta Falcons, says Vikings defensive lineman Harrison Phillips.

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The veteran defender chatted with NFL.com this week and claimed the purple team has a tall task afoot in replicating Cousins’ leadership. “There’s gonna be a huge loss. Kirk Cousins as a person, as a leader, as a teammate, that’s a big void in your locker room. One of the most humble guys that I’ve ever been around. Servant leader, just a great motivator. He’s great. To ask one person to fill that void is probably not probable. So what we’re going to do is have a great leadership team, which we’ve already seen,” Phillips told Bobby Kownack on Wednesday.

Cousins quarterbacked the Vikings for six seasons, bringing desperately needed stability to the most critical position in sports. But down the stretch of his tenure, he was injured at Lambeau Field, tearing his Achilles, and that was a wrap. Minnesota signed Sam Darnold soon after Cousins’ free-agent exit in March and drafted Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy two weeks ago.

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Phillips continued, “There’s already guys that I’ve seen these last few seasons being on this roster — some are captains, some are not captains yet but will be in their careers — and so we’re going to pass that torch off and kind of division of labor. We’re going to all carry that load together, and maybe we can be a better football team for it. Kirk’s obviously amazing. I’ve learned a lot from him and the leadership side of thing, and that’s an area I’m trying to step up and improve my game by working on those abilities.”

And this is how it goes when a long-time passer departs an organization. This is not new. Cousins was beloved by his teammates — so much so that most of them advocated for his return in 2024. Even Justin Jefferson sang Cousins’ high praises right before the Super Bowl.

Harrison Phillips Had
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Now, however, Vikings players and fans will hope that some combination of Darnold and McCarthy can take the leadership baton into 2024 and beyond. The “division of labor” strategy mentioned by Phillips can also work in the meantime.

Phillips is also excited by his side of the ball and his defensive coordinator: “We’re excited that coach Brian Flores is back. We’re excited with the new additions and, shoot, if no team ever scores a point, then it makes the quarterback position a lot easier. So we’re gonna try to focus on that kind of stuff.”

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Vikings rookie minicamp begins on Friday.

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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