However, it may be a lame-duck year for the veteran quarterback for the first time in his five years in Minnesota.
In a January 18 press conference to conclude the 2022 season, Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell addressed the direction of the franchise after their culture change willed the Vikings to their first 13-win season and NFC North title since 2017.
Speculation mounted that Cousins could reach another lucrative contract extension this offseason after he racked up a league-high eight game-winning drives in the regular season. However, a first-round exit from the playoffs at the hands of the New York Giants last Sunday has slowed any talks of Cousins playing beyond his current contract.
“It’s our expectation that he’ll be our quarterback,” Adofo-Mensah said, addressing whether he intends to offer Cousins a contract extension this offseason. Adofo-Mensah added that the Vikings are evaluating its future roster construction and contracts and only wanted to address this upcoming season.
“I can’t say exactly how that would look. We have everything at our disposal, we’ll consider all those things, just like we will with everyone else on the roster.”
Adofo-Mensah’s commitment to Cousins next year doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering Cousins’ no-trade clause and his improved play in late-game situations. The Vikings general manager’s tone has shifted from when he took the job last January and had remained lukewarm, window-shopping Cousins in the trade market a year ago.
“Not a surprise, but Kwesi and KOC [O’Connell] are speaking confidently about Kirk Cousins as QB next year,” Vikings insider Sam Ekstrom tweeted. “Notable contrast to last year when they had a hard time making a firm commitment.”
Vikings Evaluating Ed Donatell’s Future
While Cousins remains secure for next season, defensive coordinator Ed Donatell is not out of the hot seat just yet.
Asked about Donatell’s future in Minnesota after the team’s defense surrendered the second-most yards and fifth-most points in the NFL, O’Connell deflected from making any final statement but continues to be evaluating his team.
“I’m in evaluation mode of everything that we did. I think that’s really important. Part of self-reflecting and part of us reflecting as a staff is making sure we’re taking a look at every aspect of our football team and our coaching staff to make sure that we’re doing everything within my responsibility and my power to put our players and our organization in the best possible situation to have success. So that is an ongoing process,” O’Connell said.
The Vikings remaining uncommitted to Donatell isn’t a positive sign for his prospects in Minnesota. While there has been sirens on social media to fire the defensive coordinator, he could instead be “dismissed” in the near future.
Kirk Cousins Staying is a Sign Other Veterans Must Go
With Cousins expected to be back in 2023, the Vikings have to find another way to clear at least $24 million to get under the cap for next season.
That will come at the cost of some of the veteran players who built the previous culture and helped bridge the gap for the new regime.