Thursday’s NFL: Confident Cousins has ‘license to lead’
Eagan, Minn.– The quarterback merry-go-round in Minnesota has lost a lot of qualified riders over the past decade and more, and the Vikings made an unprecedented commitment this year to former Spartan Kirk Cousins to make it stop.
Cousins, too, has experienced his share of unsettled situations over a career during which he has often fought skepticism toward his ability to be a premier player.
This season, for both parties, there’s no question about who the starter will be. Cousins arrived less than five months ago, and he has yet to take a snap for the Vikings that counts. Still, they’ve already anointed him their team leader.
“At some point you have to be given a license to lead to lead. You have to be given permission to take charge, and when you’re still having internal competition it’s hard to do that,” Cousins said. “I’ve been in those situations in the past.”
Not only in Washington, where he played his first six years as a pro, but in the early part of his time in college at Michigan State.
“It was hard to really assert my personality in the locker room, because I didn’t want to step on the toes of the other people,” Cousins said.
“So that’s something, when you know your role and it’s been defined, you can then lead from a place of greater comfort and from that platform. I think that helps the overall dynamic.”
With a fully guaranteed $84 million contract over the next three years, the Vikings will be steered by Cousins through at least 2020 even with a roster stacked with stars at several positions. If all goes well, the marriage would last until he decides to leave the game.
“If there’s a quarterback competition, you don’t have one, OK?” offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. “I’ve been at spots before where there is quarterback competition and you’re worried, because neither guy is really stepping in front of the other one.”
No extension for Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers sounds as if he’s more worried about swimming with sharks than a new contract.
Starting training camp without an extension from the Packers is not really that big a deal to Rodgers, a two-time NFL MVP.
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff you guys have either written or that’s been written about it,” Rodgers said Thursday.
“I talk with my agent daily, so I’m aware of conversations.
“But I’m really not too worried about it.”
He’s under contract through the 2019 season, though NFL salaries continue to escalate. Star receiver Julio Jones showed up for Falcons camp on Thursday after the sides reached agreement to renegotiate Jones’ deal next year, avoiding a potential holdout.
Not Rodgers’ style.
“I don’t really operate like that. I have two years left on my deal,” Rodgers said when asked if he could consider holding out to turn up pressure.
Team president Mark Murphy is hopeful there will be an agreement, too, at some point.
“I don’t want to put a timeframe on it, but I’m confident we’ll work it out,” Murphy said after the Packers’ annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday night.