Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell intends to have Kirk Cousins as the team's starting quarterback in 2023, the final year of his current contract.
O'Connell addressed reporters at the NFC coaches breakfast during the ongoing NFL Owners' Meetings this week in Arizona and was asked about Cousins' status heading into the upcoming season amid speculation over his long-term future with the franchise.
“I’m just excited for Year 2 for him in this offseason. … My goal is for 2023 to be one of the best seasons of his career and when that happens it’s going to be a great thing for the Vikings," O'Connell said via NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The Vikings were reported to be "doing a cap conversion on" Cousins' contract in an effort to create "additional salary cap room," a source with knowledge of the situation told Rapoport on March 14.
General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah confirmed that the team expected Cousins to be its quarterback in 2023, but acknowledged will look at options before deciding whether to offer another extension during a press conference alongside O'Connell on January 18, three days after their 31-24 Wild Card Round elimination loss to the New York Giants.
O'Connell -- who had previously worked with Cousins as a quarterbacks coach in 2017 during their shared tenure with the now-Washington Commanders -- seemed more optimistic about Cousins and other players' progressions in 2023.
“I’m excited for, not only Kirk, but a lot of our players who will now have a year in the system and can really build off of that,” O'Connell said at the time via Pro Football Talk.
Last week, two NFL Network mock drafts predicted the Vikings would take a quarterback in the first-round of the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. Daniel Jeremiah had the Vikings selecting former Tennessee star Hendon Hooker and Charles Davis pegged Minnesota to take former Kentucky quarterback Will Levis.
Cousins finished the Wild Card Round loss to the Giants with 273 yards and two touchdowns on 31 of 39 passing, as well as one rushing touchdown on a one-yard carry, but was scrutinized for throwing a pass on 4th and 8 that was well short of the first down marker and forced a turnover on downs with 1:44 remaining and no timeouts left. The 11-year veteran threw for 4,547 yards, 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on 424 of 643 passing, while leading the Vikings to a 13-4 record, during the 2022 regular season.