Vikings Offseason Is All about Risk Management

Cousins Situation Changed
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The 2024 edition will be the most important offseason in Minnesota in quite a while as the organization is confronted with the departure of its franchise quarterback. Kirk Cousins played on an expiring contract in 2023, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must decide on his future with the Vikings and either re-sign him or initiate his succession plan.

Vikings Offseason Is All about Risk Management

Vikings Offseason Is All about Risk Management
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Taking risks is nothing new for the former Wall Street trader, who has also made a bunch of bold moves since taking over the Vikings in January 2022, facilitating a plethora of moves within the division and parting ways with beloved veterans. Some moves have worked out, others haven’t. That’s the life of an NFL GM.

And that risk tolerance will once again be tested in the upcoming months. Cousins is 35 years old and currently rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon. Extending his contract for multiple seasons, perhaps fully guaranteed like all arrangements with Cousins, for at least $35 million per season is a gigantic risk. He will eventually fall off a cliff just like every player does, and this is the age when most passers start to encounter diminishing arm talent. The injury only adds to the uncertainty.

Return to Familiar but Unkind
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Cousins has never been in a tier with Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, but he provided stability by throwing for 30 touchdowns a season, guaranteeing the team to be in the playoff race until the very end of the season. If he declines, that advantage of employing Cousins is gone.

While he might have another year or two, or even three left in the tank, possibly continuing to play at Pro Bowl level, there is a chance that he doesn’t have a single season left and will start his downfall like Matt Ryan, whose touchdown numbers dipped from 26 to 20 in his age-36 season despite playing an extra game. That risk must be considered, and Adofo-Mensah must prevent the organization from signing that potential risk to a multi-year deal.

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Because there are no great quarterbacks available, the draft is the obvious alternative to find a new passer. However, that is also risky. Spending big draft capital on a quarterback could lead to Mitchell Trubisky, Josh Rosen, or Zach Wilson. Getting another Christian Ponder is always possible.

Unlike re-signing the veteran, there is more upside. While not quite as likely as finding a bust, a team can end up with Mahomes or Allen, which changes the franchise’s fortune. Adofo-Mensah holds the 11th overall pick, the highest the franchise has had in almost a decade.

And the quarterback class is stacked, especially at the top with Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. Heisman winner Jayden Daniels is also a talented prospect. The problem for the GM is that they are unlikely to be available when he is on the clock, requiring a trade unless he is happy with one of J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix, and Michael Penix. The big swing (that doesn’t guarantee a better player) would be a costly trade for one of those guys.

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Well, that’s another risk. The 49ers put a bunch of assets on the table to get their hands on Trey Lance, and he lasted for only two seasons with the franchise before they shipped him to Dallas for a fourth-round pick.

The final option is to do a mix of all of that, probably the least risky way. Re-signing Cousins to a short contract and drafting one of those second-tier QB prospects is the safe choice, but that isn’t Adofo-Mensah’s DNA. In addition, it can be doubted that Cousins is willing to accept that offer.

Outcome at QB
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At some point, the regime of Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell must take a chance on a passer early in the draft, and this is the year to strongly consider it as all options are risky, but acquiring a rookie has more upside.

Risk management is the buzzword, and having a Wall Street trader at the helm might be just perfect to steer the organization through the following months.

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