Would A Backup QB Actually Play for the Vikings?

Sean Mannion
Aug 14, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Sean Mannion. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have been tied to Kirk Cousins for a significant stretch now, and with a 1-4 record going into Week 5, the 2023 season appears to be about over.

With Colt McCoy brought in for a tryout, and Sean Mannion signed to the practice squad, Kevin O’Connell may have a new quarterback under center at some point in 2023.

Would A Backup QB Actually Play for the Vikings?

Minnesota is coming to a decision point regarding starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. Signed only through 2023, figuring out if he’ll remain under center in 2024 is a must. It seems that answer is trending towards “no,” which could mean he is traded in the next three weeks. It doesn’t seem likely that he would be benched or not play, even if Minnesota has a desire to tank the rest of the way. That means a backup would only see the field if Cousins were gone.

Would A Backup QB
May 24, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy (12) participate in drills as part of Redskins OTAs at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Colt McCoy is not the quarterback of the future for Minnesota, and he’s never really been the quarterback of the future for anyone. Thirty-seven years old now, McCoy came into the league when Brett Favre was in his last season for the Vikings. Taken by the Browns out of Texas, the hope was that his abilities would lend him to being leaned on as a top signal caller. That never panned out, and he has been little more than a regular journeyman at this point.

Sean Mannion, who was chosen to replace backup Nick Mullens, has remained on the fringes of relevance in the league for six years. He never played in 2022 after serving as Cousins’ backup for the Vikings in 2021. Minnesota upgraded that spot when they acquired Mullens from the San Francisco 49ers. With his back issue sending him to IR, Minnesota opted to return to the same backup they had previously replaced.

Aug 27, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sean Mannion (14) in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

By no means do the Vikings want Mannion to see the field unless, of course, they are going full-blown tank mode. Nick Mullens wasn’t destined to see game action unless Cousins went down, and opening up an opportunity through a trade could have paved a path for Jaren Hall. It seems that Minnesota is not content with Hall being the sole backup for Cousins and that his development is not yet in a place where he can start an NFL game. Mannion is not a capable starter but would quickly pick up the offense while also understanding what it takes to start in this league.

Minnesota only kept their options open by trying out McCoy, and they chose to sign an afterthought in Mannion instead. The new signal caller shouldn’t be expected to play, but Mullens had that same designation and played in four games last year despite the Vikings owning a 13-4 record.

With the season’s importance now out the window, Mannion stepping onto the field for yet another team doesn’t seem unfathomable. It is certainly a reflection of how far things have gone wrong, however.

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

With Justin Jefferson out for a considerable amount of time, no quarterback will feel great about Minnesota’s depleted options. Maybe Cousins decides winning somewhere else is important to him this year. Perhaps the offensive line winds up getting the starter hurt due to the pressure. No matter what, Mannion taking game snaps shouldn’t be expected, and a new low may be reached if he does so.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.