Rick Spielman has been known to say he's not looking to trade a guy right before ends up trading said guy.

Percy Harvin and Stefon Diggs come to mind.

But in those cases, the Vikings' general manager had carefully crafted his words with room to wiggle free from what he had said to what he later did.

He left no such wiggle room Wednesday when asked to address the never-ending NFL rumor mill as it relates to the possibility of the Vikings joining this year's quarterback free-for-all by trading away starter Kirk Cousins.

First, Spielman said that coach Mike Zimmer had already "put that to bed" after the 2020 season. Then he doubled down on the team's commitment to keeping Cousins.

"Kirk Cousins is our quarterback," Spielman said. "I know there's a lot of rumors floating around out there, but Kirk Cousins is our quarterback. We felt that he played very well, probably the best that he's ever played down that stretch last year.

"Kirk is our quarterback going forward, and I look forward to him [having] another year in this system. I'm excited for him and what he's going to bring to our team next year."

Cousins will count $31 million against this year's salary cap. On March 19, his $35 million salary for 2022 becomes guaranteed.

Spielman talked at length about how the cap-strapped Vikings will need "to get creative" to create cap space. According to Spielman — on March 3, 2021 at roughly 2 p.m. — trading Cousins isn't and won't be on the table.

Drafting a QB? Yes, no, maybe?

Meanwhile, the Vikings' backup quarterback situation is back up in the air with veteran Sean Mannion set to become a free agent after two years with the team. Mannion has started only two of 13 NFL games in six seasons, but the Vikings' other two backups – Jake Browning and 2020 seventh-round pick Nate Stanley – have yet to take a snap in the NFL.

"We'll look at all the avenues, whether we bring Mannion back or if we don't bring Mannion back," Spielman said. "I think there's a wide variety of quarterbacks in this year's draft class. We'll look at all the different avenues, whether it's with Mannion or another veteran or whether we draft another quarterback."

Spielman also said it's too early to be rushing into a succession plan for Cousins, who turns 33 in August.

"I don't want to ever force taking a quarterback when there's not a quarterback there to take because that's when you make mistakes," he said. "Kirk right now is still in the prime of his career, at 32. And he's got a lot of good football left in him."

Hunter didn't ask to be highest-paid

Spielman said defensive end Danielle Hunter is progressing well in his rehab from a neck surgery that wiped out his entire 2020 season.

"I saw an Instagram picture of him [Tuesday]," Spielman said. "He looked pretty good. I'm excited to get him here in the fold and get him going once we get started."

Spielman wouldn't address reports that Hunter is upset with his contract. But he did say without hesitation that Hunter hasn't told the team he wants to be traded if he's not the league's highest-paid defensive player – something NFL Network reported last fall.

Pierce 'looks in great shape'

Spielman said hefty nose tackle Michael Pierce, last year's prized free agent, "looks in great shape" after taking the COVID-19 opt-out and missing the entire 2020 season.

Although the pandemic's impact on the 2021 season is uncertain, the Vikings are confident Pierce will play this year.

"I know Coach [Andre] Patterson has been talking to him," said Spielman, referring to the Vikings' co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. "We anticipate him being here like everybody else going forward."