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For Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, stability comes with responsibility

Ben Goessling, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Football

MINNEAPOLIS -- In one sense, Kirk Cousins' ninth NFL season finds the quarterback with the stability he's long sought and often lacked in his career.

He's set to take home more cash ($40 million) than any quarterback in the NFL in 2020, thanks to a new deal that rewarded him with a $30 million signing bonus in exchange for a lower cap number.

He'll spend another season working with Gary Kubiak, the architect of the offense that Cousins directed during a career year in 2019. And he'll direct an attack that's spent two first-round and two second-round draft picks on accoutrements for the quarterback since he walked in the door.

But like one of those photos of a famous landmark taken from an unusual angle, Cousins' moment of prominence isn't as simple as it would seem.

As the quarterback pointed out Friday, Kubiak -- who shifted from offensive adviser to coordinator when the Browns hired Kevin Stefanski -- will be his fifth play-caller in as many years. Receiver Justin Jefferson arrived with the first-round pick the Vikings got in exchange for Stefon Diggs, whose eagerness to play elsewhere was "not a mystery," Cousins said this spring. And the coronavirus pandemic means the quarterback still hadn't logged a full-team practice snap with his new receivers and linemen as of Friday, 37 days before the season opener against Green Bay.

Heading into Year 9, Cousins has realized he needs to be as much a source of stability as he is a beneficiary of it.

 

"Turnover is kind of the normal part of this league," he said in a videoconference Friday. "It's rare to have continuity, but you appreciate it when you get it. With a little bit less work this offseason, going into my ninth year, I probably am not as concerned about that, but my concern is more on young offensive linemen, our draft picks at positions we know we're going to need to be counting on. I've got to help get them along, get them caught up to speed, and that's as much my job, potentially, as it is for the coach or the player themself."

Cousins sneaked in a few days of work with Jefferson and some of his other teammates in Minnesota this offseason, wrapping up just before a summer spike in COVID-19 cases led the NFL Players Association to curtail private workouts.

He otherwise spent his offseason playing catch with anyone who was around (from a high school friend in west Michigan to his father and brother), connecting virtually with his personal trainer Joe Tofferi and squeezing in some tennis.

He's yet to miss a game because of injury -- or even find himself on the Vikings' injury report -- in two seasons with the team, and said he's feeling good as he approaches his 32nd birthday later this month.

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