The Vikings Should Draft a QB Prospect in 2023

Cousins / Mond
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Kirk Cousins will be the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback in 2023.

This statement must be repeated for Vikings fans, as many people still believe he should be cut or traded away. However, the Vikings should draft a QB prospect in the 2023 draft to prepare for the post-Cousins era.

If you genuinely dislike Cousins as the quarterback for the Vikings, you will have to prepare for him to be here for at least one more year. When Kwesi Adofo-Mensah gave him an extension in the 2022 offseason, it assured Cousins that he would be in Minnesota. He did this by giving Cousins a no-trade clause.

The no-trade clause is straightforward. The only way Cousins will be traded with his current contract is if he signs off on the trade. And with everything Cousins has said, it is apparent that he has no intention of leaving Minnesota anytime soon.

However, there is an option the Vikings could play here to trade Cousins to a different team. That option is to offer him a contract extension with guaranteed money attached in exchange for him dropping the no-trade clause portion of the contract. After that, you have to hope that a team is willing to take on that contract in a trade.

Vikings Should Draft a QB
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The likelihood of this occurring is pretty slim.

Now, some people want to flat-out cut Cousins from the team. They could be saying this out of gest, but perhaps they do not understand how the salary cap works. To clear that up, His current contract is set to have a cap hit of $36 million in 2023. If he were released, that would escalate to $48 million.

Releasing him is not an option.

Based on the Vikings’ inability to release him and move on in 2023 and the complex option of trading him, the team is really only deciding between two things right now.

Do you let him play out his current contract, or do you extend him?

Regardless of this decision, the Vikings need to start planning for the post-Cousins era. He is currently 34 years old, and they have no plan in place for when he is no longer here.

While 34 is not that old in today’s NFL for a quarterback, the odds of him aging like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers are not as likely as him aging like Phillip Rivers or Matt Ryan. Eventually, Father Time will come for Cousins, and now is the time to think about his replacement.

The Vikings Should Draft a QB to Prepare for the post-Cousins Era

About the Idea of Vikings
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There are going to be hundreds of mock drafts discussed over the next seven weeks leading up to the NFL draft. Many of those will have the Vikings drafting a quarterback like Anthony Richardson. However, drafting a quarterback in the first round probably isn’t an option.

The reason for this is that the Vikings do not have a lot of draft capital, have significant needs on the defense side of the ball, and need a wide receiver to go opposite Justin Jefferson. In PFF’s latest mock draft, they have Jordan Addison going to the Vikings with the 23rd overall pick.

If they do not select a QB in the first round, who are their options? After all, Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson, and Will Levis are all projected to be off the board by the time the Vikings are on the clock. Here are a couple of options:

  • Tanner McKee
  • Hendon Hooker

McKee is the best choice out of these two players. He is the prototypical NFL quarterback and has a strong arm. Although, he is projected to be a second-round pick, which the Vikings do not possess at the moment, so they would need to trade up.

While McKee has some things to clean up in his game, such as decision-making and accuracy under pressure, he generally has good accuracy and arm strength. Since McKee will not be expected to start for the Vikings for at least one year, he is an excellent prospect to trade up for and take a chance on.

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Hooker might be more prepared to start in the NFL. The velocity and accuracy of his throws appear to be NFL-worthy. However, he sometimes relies too heavily on his arm strength and loses his mechanics while under pressure. He is also 25 years old and recovering from an ACL injury.

The injury and age will likely drop Hooker down into the third or fourth round. Therefore, the Vikings would not need to trade up to draft him. And just like McKee, he would not need to start right away so he could work on his fundamentals while the Vikings ride out Cousins’ contract situation.

Regardless of the Vikings’ direction, they need to look to the future. They are unlikely to draft up in the first round with limited draft capital. However, going after McKee in the second round is worth it to prepare for a world without Cousins.

Mitch Massman is a lifelong Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3