Vikings Fill QB Opening with an Old Friend

Explained: Fallout from Vikings Win over New England
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings fans. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The first day of free agency was busy for the Minnesota Vikings. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wasted no time, adding two players to the team for big money after restructuring the contract with linebacker Jordan Hicks earlier in the day.

The first acquisition was Josh Oliver, primarily a blocking tight end in Baltimore’s run-heavy offense, for the surprising number of $21 million for three seasons. Many were stunned, including some pundits. A bigger signing came in the evening when the purple team added pass rusher Marcus Davenport to the roster, a potential replacement for Za’Darius Smith. Davenport will cost the Vikings $13 million for one campaign. He has the upside to be a true difference-maker for the struggling Vikings’ defense.

Vikings Fill QB Opening with an Old Friend

Vikings Fill
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) looks to pass during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

In 2022, the Vikings traded a conditional 7th-round selection to the Las Vegas Raiders for their backup quarterback Nick Mullens. The team had to do something, as neither Sean Mannion nor Kellen Mond stepped up to earn the job to back up starter Kirk Cousins. One year later, the purple team re-signs Mullens for at least another season, according to Field Yates. The contract details have not been released. In 2022, Mullens played on a one-year deal for $2 million and is one of the cheaper options on the market.

Mullens was Cousins’ backup throughout the 2022 campaign. He is an experienced player, starting 17 games for the 49ers and the Browns in his first four career seasons, throwing more than 600 passes and roughly 5,000 yards. In his one season in Minnesota, he had the usual job of a Cousins backup, as Cousins only missed one game in his career on the COVID list. That durability is one of Cousins’ biggest selling points and an incredibly underrated trait.

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.

Mullens played in four games and 54 snaps for the Vikings, most of that in the meaningless Week 18 game, and completed 21 of 25 passes for 224 yards. He added one score and one interception to his stat sheet.

The job of a backup QB is not only to be ready to step on the field when needed but also to be an assistant coach, to help the starter prepare for the game and help him during games to adjust to defenses. Apparently, the Vikings were pleased with Mullens in that area.

Load the Box: Position Battles
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Keelan Cole (84) is defended by Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings filled one of many holes, especially the cornerback position is concerning, with only Andrew Booth Jr., Akayleb Evans, Kalon Barnes, and Tay Gowan on the roster. GM Adofo-Mensah will most likely address that in the upcoming weeks.

In addition to that, Minnesota must replace free agent center Garrett Bradbury and kicker Greg Joseph. The release of wideout Adam Thielen opened another roster hole. There will be many more moves to come.

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