Vikings Called ‘Quiet Contender’ for Mobile QB in R1 of Draft

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For long-term planning, the largest Minnesota Vikings offseason domino is afoot, and that’s the decision on Kirk Cousins’ contract.

Annually, for the last three offseasons, Minnesota has pondered leaving Cousins’ contract as-is or adding extra years onto the deal. And they’ve chosen the latter. The same debate is present in 2023, and before March 15th, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must pull the trigger for one or two more years or leave it be. The deal, in current form, expires after the 2023 season.

Vikings Called ‘Quiet Contender’ for Mobile QB in R1 of Draft

Well, the decision doesn’t seem to phase some, as the Vikings have a unique opportunity to roll with the best of both worlds — keep Cousins on the depth chart as QB1 while grooming his replacement from the NFL draft.

And left up to’s Albert Breer, he believes Minnesota might begin the plan for life after Cousins. In the popular MMQB article this week, Breer envisioned the Vikings possibly using early-round draft capital on a quarterback in April.

“I think Kirk Cousins will be the Vikings’ quarterback in 2023, and I think, certainly, they’d consider doing another one-year extension with him this offseason (they’d have $12.5 million in dead money to deal with after next year if they walked away). But I also believe that Cousins’s age (he’ll be 35 in Week 1) and contract situation make the Vikings a quiet contender to take a quarterback in April,” Breer wrote.

Quiet Contender
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) scrambles with the ball during the second half against the Eastern Washington Eagles at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Sunday, October 2, 2022. © Matt Pendleton / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Breer added, “Had Justin Fields slipped to where the team was initially picking in 2021 (No. 14), before dealing down and taking Christian Darrisaw with the 23rd pick, the now-Bears quarterback would’ve been a serious consideration.”

“So if, say, Florida’s Anthony Richardson were to fall into their laps at 24, it’s easy for me to see the Vikings seeing a raw prospect who could develop for a year behind Cousins and wind up being a monster for them a few years down the line (physically, he’s off the charts),” he concluded.

Bleacher Reports Tags Vikings for QB in 2023 NFL Draft
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Richardson is known for his dual-threat style and herculean arm strength. But skeptics question his mechanics and accuracy.

If the Vikings want to effectuate Breer’s plan in the 1st Round, Richardson is almost the only applicable passer unless Adofo-Mensah trades up in the draft. The team could also peek at Tanner McKee from Stanford, but his draft stock is in the 2nd and 3rd Rounds per some credible mock drafts.

3 Takeaways from Vikings
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To accommodate the Richardson-to-Vikings idea, Minnesota would have to address oodles of roster needs in free agency, especially on defense. The Vikings struggled defensively in 2022 — particularly in the playoffs — and most Vikings faithful surmise the team will spend the offseason revamping the defense with the help of new defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Because the defense ranked nearly the bottom of the league in 2022, the 1st-Round pick might be best utilized on, well, defense.

However, if Adofo-Mensah scrubs those roster needs off the board when free agency starts on March 15th — sure, he might take a 1st-Round flier on a quarterback of the future. As mentioned by Breer, Cousins is 35, so age has entered the “Cousins debate” for the first time.

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell at a Minnesota Timberwolves game in 2022.

The other option to marry both worlds — retaining Cousins and tabbing a rookie for watch-and-learn duty — is selecting a quarterback after Round 1. Stetson Bennett (Georgia), Jaren Hall (BYU), Hendon Hooker (Tennessee), Clayton Tune (Houston), and others, including the aforementioned McKee, should be available somewhere in Rounds 2-7.

The Vikings haven’t drafted a quarterback in the 1st Round since Teddy Bridgewater in 2014.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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