2 Former Vikings on Deck at QB in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) throws a pass during the Cincinnati Bengals fan day practice at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, July 29, 2023. © Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow injured his calf via non-contact injury last week, and the world held its breath.

Later, Burrow was diagnosed with a strained calf and will miss “several weeks” of Bengals training camp and preseason. It is unclear if his recovery will bleed into the regular season.

2 Former Vikings on Deck at QB in Cincinnati

Meanwhile, without exploring the open free-agent market for QB options like Carson Wentz or Nick Foles, two former Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks are on tap to fill in at QB1 in Burrow’s stead — Jake Browning and Trevor Siemian.

2 Former Vikings
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) drops back to throw during a training camp practice at the Paycor Stadium practice field in downtown Cincinnati on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Neither man experienced regular season action in purple and gold — mainly because Kirk Cousins is so durable — but each was attached to the Vikings roster within the last five years.

Browning joined the Vikings in April 2019 via undrafted free agency and remained with the club for two and half years, mostly on the practice squad. At Washington in college, he performed admirably, even diming 43 touchdowns to just 9 picks in the 2016 campaign.

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During his Viking stint, Browning battled for the ‘other’ quarterback spot, usually at QB3 or QB4, with some assortment of Sean Mannion, Kyle Sloter, and Kellen Mond. In fact, Cousins and Mond fell ill with the coronavirus in the summer of 2021, and Browning took the reins of the Vikings night scrimmage at training camp and turned heads. Some even believed he played well enough to secure a QB2 job, but later the aforementioned Mannion swooped in for the gig.

Cincinnati signed Browning a week after his Vikings exodus, where he’s predominantly lived on the practice squad since.

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Browning’s teammate, Siemian, has brief ties to the Vikings, too. Cousins arrived in 2018, and the veteran passer was signed for QB2 duty which he held for the entirety of the ill-fated 2018 campaign. A journeyman, he began his career as ‘Peyton Manning’s replacement’ after the Broncos won the Super Bowl in 2015. Siemian even has ring hardware as Manning and the Broncos toppled the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Siemian departed Colorado, later becoming a backup quarterback for the Vikings, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears — and Bengals.

In 2021, Siemian started four games for the Saints as that organization navigated post-Drew Brees life and a season-ending injury to reclamation project Jameis Winston. Last year, Siemian landed with the Bears as a backup to the up-and-coming Justin Fields, along with Nathan Peterman. But his season was cut short in warm-ups for a November game when Siemian injured his shoulder. He would’ve experienced playing time against the Vikings in Week 18, but Peterman and Tim Boyle took the reins instead.

Former Vikings QB Done For the Year
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Altogether, Siemian has thrown 42 touchdowns to 28 interceptions in 30 career starts. His teams are 13-17 (.433) on his watch, and he’s averaged 200.8 passing yards per game along the way.

The Bengals also employ former Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr., who hopes for a long-awaited breakout season in Cincinnati. After Browning and Siemian on the QB depth chart, Cincinnati recently signed Reid Sinnett of Pioneer Football League fame.

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 OverTheCap.com.