By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Kirk Cousins may have just earned a contract extension with the Vikings this offseason, but he already has an eye toward the future.

“My mindset was really to be a Viking,” he said. “I would like to retire as a Viking, and so I would like to play my way into that, if you will. I know I gotta earn the right to do that. If I could draw it up, it would be play well enough that there never — you never have to play or wear another jersey anywhere else.”

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In his four years in Minnesota, Cousins has thrown for 16,387 yards, 124 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. He’s the first Vikings quarterback since Fran Tarkenton to start every game in back-to-back seasons. He’s missed only one game in four seasons, when he sat out the last game of the 2019 season to stay healthy for the playoffs. He earned the only playoff win of his career that year.

Statistically, Cousins was one of the best quarterbacks in the league last year. But even he’s willing to admit this extension was as much about the Vikings’ financial situation as his performance.

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“I wanted to help create some cap space so that we could put together the roster that you do feel really good about,” he said. “I think it was a way to create a win-win and then hopefully that leads to a lot of wins this fall.”

The one-year extension announced last month ties Cousins to the Vikings through 2023, at which point a separation becomes possible. Cousins, though, is hoping to stay in a horned helmet for the rest of his career. He said he knows what he has to do to get there.

“You earn it every day,” he said. “It’s coming in now in OTAs and picking up the system quickly, learning the things we were taught today quickly so that you can build the next brick and just keep stacking them up and be consistent so that year after year you’re doing the things it takes to be successful.

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“That’s staying healthy, that’s playing at a high level, that’s protecting the football, it’s making plays, it’s leading your teammates, it’s playing with poise, with toughness. All the things it takes to be a great quarterback. It’s doing that not one time, not one season, not for a two-year, three-year run, it’s doing it for day after day after day and you look back after, hopefully, double digit years and you say, ‘Man, that was a great run.’ But it’s really just taking it one day at a time on the way there.”