Kirk Cousins enters the final year of his contract with the Minnesota Vikings undeterred about his future.
The 35-year-old quarterback said on Wednesday that he hopes to remain in Minnesota for the duration of his career but understands his play this season will determine how that unfolds.
"I want to be in Minnesota. That's kind of a no-brainer," Cousins told reporters. "So, hopefully, we can earn the right to do that."
After six years in Washington, Cousins enters his sixth season with the Vikings. On Wednesday, he repeated several times his focus isn't on the future but rather on the present, ramping up for the upcoming season.
"I don't think you go there," Cousins said when asked if he thinks about it potentially being his final season in Minnesota. "I think it's healthiest to be present. To be focused on Phase 2, Wednesday, and live right now in the moment. And again, when you do that, you just do it day after day, and you get to next February, and you say, 'Everything will work out.' It's just best to stay in the present to have March go the way you want it to go."
After reworking Cousins' contract multiple times in previous offseasons, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah elected not to touch the QB's deal this year, despite salary cap restrictions. The decision put Cousins in a position to be a free agent next season.
It's not a situation that bothers the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback.
"This is my fourth time in this league going into a season with free agency on the horizon," Cousins said. "My fourth year after my rookie contract, the two years in Washington after that, and now this. So I would just say that to say, it's more the norm than the exception. The exception is that you have something penciled in for future years. Most of our locker room has no idea what is coming in three or months, let alone three or four years or next year. So, I feel like I'm one of the guys, if you will. We're all in this together, and that's the way this league works."
Cousins led the Vikings to a 13-4 record and NFC North title last season, thanks largely to a host of one-score wins.
Despite Cousins entering the final year of his deal, Minnesota didn't draft a quarterback high in the draft, selecting developmental prospect Jaren Hall from BYU in the fifth round. That takes a modicum of pressure off Cousins this year and adds to the question of how the Vikings will answer the long-term questions at the position.
Cousins isn't bothered by the Vikings allowing him to get into a proverbial lame-duck season and is focused on simply performing at his best on the gridiron.
"I think in this league, there should never be entitlement," he said. "You've always got to go play, and teams can do whatever they want to do. That's their prerogative. You just go to work, you do the best you can, and I'm encouraged and excited because I do think I have a good football ahead of me. So, gotta go out there and earn that. But I feel positive about the future looking forward."