Why Russell Wilson Makes Sense for Vikings

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It might not seem like it is a good idea to acquire veteran quarterback Russell Wilson, and it perhaps isn’t, but there is a scenario that certainly makes sense for the Vikings to evaluate. The purple team will need a new quarterback in the draft or via free agency unless they re-sign four-time Pro Bowler Kirk Cousins for a seventh season with the organization.

Why Russell Wilson Makes Sense for Vikings

Why Russell Wilson Makes Sense for Vikings
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Cousins would be an option, especially considering the way head coach Kevin O’Connell and his teammates have talked about him since his season-ending Achilles injury, but some variables should be considered, like his injury and a possible decline at age 36. Because of those question marks, the Vikings might not be willing to pay him close to (or even more than) $40 million per season.

The Vikes will also presumably pick too late to get one of the elite quarterback prospects in the upcoming draft unless they make a big trade. However, they could still pull the trigger in the first round, but the rookie might need a year to develop in O’Connell’s complicated system, and he could do that without any pressure behind a veteran.

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But why Wilson, who hasn’t been himself in the last couple of seasons, instead of Cousins or another veteran like Ryan Tannehill or Baker Mayfield? The answer is easy: money.

Wilson is expected to be released in the offseason after declining a pay cut, and the Denver Broncos want to move on as soon as possible despite the threat of inheriting a $85 million dead cap hit.

The contract specialists from Spotrac tweeted earlier this week: “FWIW: Russell Wilson’s guarantee next season contains offset language. If the Broncos release him next March, the $39M owed to him on the way out would be reduced by however much he earns from a new team in 2024. A minimum salary for Wilson next year comes in at $1.21M.

Acquire Russell
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And here is where things get interesting. Wilson will make those $39 million in 2024, regardless of his salary from the new team, unless it is higher than that. But no NFL team in its right mind will pay him more than that. For that reason, he can sign for the mentioned veteran minimum to prevent his future team from spending money on him, allowing them to build the team around him.

While having Wilson for $40 million is a nightmare scenario, employing him for just over $1 million suddenly sounds like a good idea. The Vikings wouldn’t sign him as a long-term solution, but much rather as a one-year rental, someone who would start before the rookie that will be drafted in 2024 or 2025 can take over from him.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, left, greets Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) before the coin toss prior to an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 37-30. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Wilson has thrown for 26 TDs and 8 INTs in 2023, ranks 12th in EPA/Play, and his PFF grade is 17th among eligible NFL QBs. He hasn’t been bad enough to deserve to be benched, unlike the guys Minnesota had to deal with. The Vikings have the weapons and the offensive play-caller to get the best out of him for one more season.

The Super Bowl champion turned 35 last month, but he has been healthy for the majority of his career. While he has lost some of his athleticism that made him special, he can still move outside of the pocket and extend plays with good football IQ and a decent arm. Minnesota was on the wrong side of that when he beat the Dobbs-led Vikings.

At first, signing him doesn’t sound like a wonderful idea, but it is worth considering for close to no money.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt