Vikings QB Room Has Fascinating New Storyline

What if a Kirk Cousins
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) run onto the field for warmup prior to their game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Kirk Cousins leads the NFL in touchdown passes, ranks second in passing yards, and sits at No. 10 per quarterback EPA+CPOE.

One might read those statistics and believe the Minnesota Vikings were humming in 2023, but such is not the case.

Vikings QB Room Has Fascinating New Storyline

Instead, Minnesota is buried at 1-4 in the NFC North, mainly because of a turnover problem and daunting schedule, and the most popular quarterback news on October 9th is whether Cousins will be traded or stick around for the rest of 2023.

Meanwhile, Cousins’ backup, Nick Mullens, could be heading to Injured Reserve, thickening an already bad overall plot for the 2023 Vikings.

QB Room Has Fascinating
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) stands behind center during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert tweeted Monday afternoon, “Kevin O’Connell also said the Vikings are considering options for backup QB Nick Mullens, who was inactive Sunday because of back stiffness, and mentioned the possibility of a roster move later this week. Translated: They’re trying to decide whether to put him on IR.”

If Mullens hits IR, the Vikings could pivot to Jaren Hall, a 5th-Round rookie from April’s draft, or sign a free agent to support Cousins. The club also onboarded former Minnesota Golden Gophers passer Tanner Morgan to the practice squad last week, although Morgan almost certainly wouldn’t hop into the QB2 role.

Aug 19, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) looks to throw the ball as guard Olisaemeka Udoh (74) and offensive tackle Blake Brandel (64) block against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Why is this fascinating? Simple — what if the Vikings really did trade Kirk Cousins after a 1-7, 2-6, or 3-5 start? The trade deadline looms on Halloween, and if Minnesota shipped Cousins to the New York Jets, New England Patriots, or Atlanta Falcons, most Vikings fans believe Mullens would take the reins indefinitely.

But if Mullens is put on the shelf for four-plus games, Jaren Hall or an undetermined free agent would become the next man up.

Aug 26, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) hands the ball off against the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Trading Cousins for draft picks while knowing Mullens won’t take over the QB1 job would likely hand the baton to Hall and firmly shove the Vikings into “evaluation mode,” which some will call tanking.

Next April, several promising quarterbacks will be available in the draft, with Caleb Williams (USC) and Drake Maye (North Carolina) headlining the group. If Minnesota wants an easy path to possibly selecting Williams or Maye in April, trading Cousins and playing Hall is the surefire way to do it.

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

Of course, a Cousins trade is unlikely for a few reasons: a) The Vikings aren’t traditionally a team to quit on a season in the middle of it b) Cousins has a no-trade clause and holds all the power c) It wouldn’t be too Cousins-like to waive a clause and learn a new playbook in a few days; he’s known for methodical preparation.

Should Mullens venture onto IR but the Vikings still want a veteran quarterback, free agents like Joe Flacco, Colt McCoy, and Carson Wentz, among others, are available.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by