Kirk Cousins has been an ironman since he entered the league. He has started all but one game since 2015, making him one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the league. It has allowed the Vikings the luxury of not putting much emphasis on a backup QB. However, my argument on this topic will always remain the same: a player is only an ironman until they aren’t.
Captain Kirk is one bad hit, one mistimed step, one fluky slap to his throwing hand away from no longer being an NFL ironman, especially as he gets older and plays behind one of the worst o-lines in the league.
Because of that, the Vikings need a reliable backup quarterback. I don’t care who is around him; the Vikings will not win games with Sean Mannion starting under center. Because of that, I’ve talked a lot about potential players for the Vikings to look at. These targets have included guys like Cam Newton, Gardner Minshew, or even potentially drafting Jamie Newmann with a day three pick. I’m throwing another hat into the ring though, and that hat is Alex Smith.
On Monday, news broke that the Washington Football Team will be cutting the veteran QB and 2020’s Comeback Player of the Year in the next few days. It is yet to be announced when exactly it happens, or if it is in favor of Taylor Heinicke or a potential draft prospect. That’s not important right now, though. Here’s the big question: what backup is more qualified in this league than Alex Smith?
The man has playoff experience, he has shown he can win games even post leg injury, and most importantly, he is motivated to succeed. He won’t cost much, either. Not too many teams will fork out much money for a soon to be 37-year-old with a serious injury history.
Despite the history, the Vikings should offer Smith a contract. If not solely because he is absolutely more qualified than Sean Mannion, but he did have an impressive comeback in 2020 given the circumstances. In six starts, Smith went 5-1 and threw for 1220 yards, five TDs and five INTs.
It doesn’t blow you away on the surface, but again, the context of him coming back from a life-threatening injury makes it impressive. It also far exceeds anything that Mannion has accomplished. In two career starts, Mannion is 0-2 while throwing for 311 yards, zero TDs, and two INTs. I think it’s pretty clear who you’d rather have entering a game.
Not only that, but if Smith can make this type of comeback in just two years, what can he accomplish in another offseason and a year of backing up Kirk Cousins where he is working out and fully healthy? Smith may have another two or three years of football left in him, and the Vikings could help him maximize them.
It wouldn’t be the most flashy signing, even for a backup quarterback. That said, Smith is reliable. He could find success in the Vikings system if he had to relieve Cousins at some point. Rick Spielman, make it happen.