Vikings Have 7 Different Starting QB Options for 2023

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We know what you’re thinking — isn’t it Kirk Cousins?

Well, yes, and he’s the same guy whose contract runs out after the 2023 season. So far this offseason, the Minnesota Vikings have not extended Cousins’ contract, a signal the team could be ready to move on. Plus, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah pushed most of Cousins’ dead cap money into the future, embodying the popular “kick the can down the road” cliche.

Vikings Have 7 Different Starting QB Options for 2023

Cousins will likely be the Vikings QB1 in 2023, rest assured. But this is the NFL we’re talking about here. Minnesota employs a passer not committed to the franchise beyond 2023 — a rare situation for a franchise quarterback. Teams usually wrap up their guy for the long term. The Vikings have not.

And with the 2023 NFL Draft less than five weeks away, it isn’t inconceivable for Cousins to be traded. When Aaron Rodgers hoisted an MVP trophy in early 2022, did you think he’d be on the cusp of becoming a New York Jet 14 months later? The NFL is unpredictable.

Therefore, if Cousins is traded between now and the draft, these are the seven starting QB options for the Vikings, including Cousins, listed in alphabetical order.

1. Kirk Cousins

Have 7 Different
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

How It Would Happen: Everything stays as-is.

Cousins would’ve signed his typical one- or two-year extension with the Vikings in March if everything was hunky dory. Something held it up, probably the Vikings front office’s reluctance to commit to Cousins at 36 and beyond. Too, Cousins and his agent are shrewd businessmen and won’t play on any semblance of a team-friendly deal.

He’ll likely end up as Minnesota’s QB1 in 2023 and should be considered the overwhelming frontrunner.

2. Lamar Jackson

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How It Would Happen: The Vikings pony up two 1st-Rounders for Jackson, the Ravens decline to match Minnesota’s hypothetical contract offer, and Adofo-Mensah trades Cousins to the Ravens, Jets, 49ers, or Patriots.

The Vikings are fourth on the Vegas list of odds to land Jackson via trade, if that can be believed:

  • Baltimore Ravens: +225
  • Tennessee Titans: +400
  • New England Patriots: +500
  • Minnesota Vikings: +550
  • Indianapolis Colts: +1000
  • New York Jets: +1400
  • Atlanta Falcons: +1500
  • The Field: +575

Landing Jackson would involve considerable financial gymnastics for Adofo-Mensah, mainly swallowing a large Cousins’ dead cap hit and juggling upcoming extensions for Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, Danielle Hunter, and Christian Darrisaw. And that’s all on top of paying Jackson his Deshaun Watson-esque pricetag. But if there’s a will, there’s a way, at least according to sportsbooks.

3. Trey Lance

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How It Would Happen: After years of speculation, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch pull the trigger on a trade for Cousins, sending Lance to Minnesota, his home state.

San Francisco might’ve visited the Super Bowl in February if it didn’t lose four quarterbacks to injury. Shanahan and the gang probably yearn for a durable quarterback, and Cousins is the most durable of them all. It’s not debatable.

The Vikings would have a few years left of Lance’s rookie contract and probably receive a mid-rounder along with Lance in a deal for Cousins.

4. Will Levis

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How It Would Happen: Levis is the victim of a draft night tumble, and the Vikings strike at No. 23 or trade up a bit to draft the Wildcat. Cousins is traded to the Jets, 49ers, or Patriots.

In a mock draft this week, NFL.com’s Charles Davis foresaw Levis falling all the way to the Vikings and wrote, “Finally! Teams picking as high as No. 4 overall will likely consider the big-armed passer from Kentucky, but he lands with QB-friendly coach Kevin O’Connell in Minnesota as the franchise’s signal-caller for the future.”

If any of the “Big Four” quarterbacks plummet the draft board, it’ll be Levis or Anthony Richardson.

5. Anthony Richardson

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.

How It Would Happen: Richardson is the victim of a draft night tumble, and the Vikings strike at No. 23 or trade up a bit. Cousins is traded to the Jets, 49ers, or Patriots.

Richardson has more tools than Ace Hardware, and some general manager will fall in love. But his accuracy is concerning, so he could experience a mini-tumble on draft night akin to Malik Willis last year — but not to Round 3.

Of course, if the Vikings draft Richardson, he’s likely to sit for a year behind Cousins. Yet, there’s also a world where Adofo-Mensah “rips the Band-Aid off” and rolls with the Gator immediately.

6. C.J. Stroud

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports.

How It Would Happen: Stroud falls to the No. 3 spot in the draft (the Cardinals pick) or a bit further down, and Adofo-Mensah makes his move up the board trading oodles of draft capital. Cousins is traded to the Jets, 49ers, or Patriots.

Former Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis predicted this week that his former team would do something funky with the first overall pick. That probably means the selection of Levis or Richardson.

If Davis is correct, Stroud could fall a little bit more than draft brains expect. If he’s labeled as “the guy” by Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell, let the Stroud era begin in Minnesota, with Cousins traded to New York (Aaron Rodgers deal falls through?), San Francisco, or New England.

7. Bryce Young

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports.

How It Would Happen: Young falls to the No. 3 spot in the draft (the Cardinals pick) or a bit further down, and Adofo-Mensah makes his move up the board trading oodles of draft capital. Cousins is traded to the Jets, 49ers, or Patriots.

The least likely option of all seven, Young is probably heading to Houston. But keep an eye on him if he gets to Arizona’s pick without a team. The Vikings could call the Cardinals front office and squeeze the No. 3 pick away. And if Richardson/Levis was chosen by Carolina and the Texans selected Stroud, well, Young would be available after the No. 2 pick.


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).

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

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