Kevin O'Connell: I think we're headed toward a good place in negotiations with Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins has been here before.

The last time, though, his departure from Washington was pre-determined. The team had used the franchise tag on him in back-to-back offseasons to keep him in Washington but making a third tag astronomical.

The Vikings hope to have better luck re-signing the quarterback than Washington did in 2018. (The Commanders still are searching for his replacement.)

"This is not Kirk's first time in free agency," Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell said Tuesday at the Scouting Combine. "Kirk Cousins knows how I feel about him. I've held no secrets there. He knows how the Minnesota Vikings feel about him. I believe Kirk wants to be a Viking, and we're going to work to try to make that the outcome.

"I think anytime you go into situations like this, it is a negotiation, and we're trying to come to an agreement that works for both sides, as we not only build our football team for 2024, but we're trying to do some things to help us sustain for the future as well. . . . I feel like we're heading toward a good place with Kirk, but like we've seen, free agency and the uncertainties for this time of year, you've got to be ready in a leadership role to have contingency plans and adjust on the fly."

O'Connell was attracted to the Vikings job partly because the franchise quarterback was in place with Cousins, who is 17-8 over the past two seasons. He has given the Vikings a chance in his six years in Minnesota, though the team is only 1-2 in two postseason appearances with him.

Cousins is coming off a ruptured Achilles that ended his 2023 season after only eight games and failed the Vikings' chances at winning the division.

"We come here two years, and Kirk was a huge reason why," O'Connell said. "I thought so highly amongst a lot of things about the Minnesota Vikings' opportunities because of my belief of him. We've won a lot of games over these two years with Kirk as our quarterback and thought he was playing as well as anybody in the National Football League when he got hurt after beating the Packers at Lambeau last year. . . . To have that happen was a big deal for me personally and much beyond just my role of coaching the team. But it's been awesome to see him through his rehab and where he's at now, really getting right back up on his feet and attacking this thing.

"My feelings on Kirk Cousins, they really have not wavered in two years. If anything, they're stronger now having gone through a lot of adversity together, but we've had a lot of success as well."