The Vikings’ Most Likely Outcome at QB This Offseason

One Thing Separates Vikings from Elite Tier
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Among numerous items, the Minnesota Vikings offseason chatter is dominated at the moment by Kirk Cousins’ fate in purple.

Whether he returns or hits free agency totally and undeniably sets the tone for the remainder of general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s competitive rebuild.

The Vikings’ Most Likely Outcome at QB This Offseason

If Minnesota and Cousins can’t meet in the middle on an extension, Cousins will hit free agency and quarterback a team in 2024 like the Atlanta Falcons or New England Patriots, for example. Then, the Vikings would be close to a shoo-in to draft a quarterback in Round 1 of April’s draft, and that would be that.

Outcome at QB
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On the whole, the Vikings have four options at quarterback for 2024 and beyond:

  1. Retain Cousins and Draft No Rookie
  2. Let Cousins Leave and Draft a Rookie
  3. Retain Cousins and Draft a Rookie
  4. Trade for a High-Profile Veteran QB

Those are the options, barring a Hail Mary alternative such as, “We’ll just start Jaren Hall or Nick Mullens in 2024.”

And while all the choices have pros and cons, the likeliest outcome is No. 3 — re-signing Cousins for a year or two and drafting a quarterback of the future.

Completely Turn
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The Vikings watched in living color as the Green Bay Packers’ longstanding plan came to fruition last weekend. Quarterback Jordan Love was forced to watch and learn for three seasons behind Aaron Rodgers before taking the keys to the franchise in 2023. At least during the second half of the regular season and one dazzling playoff game, the plan worked. The Packers flogged the Cowboys in the Wildcard Round.

The Kansas City Chiefs also employed this strategy in 2017 and 2018 with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes. The plan worked.

Have a New Draft
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Now, Minnesota has a golden opportunity to become a copycat. That is — do what the Packers and Chiefs have done in recent history by employing decent or great starters, with the “the other guy” waiting to take over.

“You guys know how I feel about Kirk. Kirk knows how I feel about Kirk. I think he was playing as well as anybody in the National Football League,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said about Cousins on Halloween after Cousins was lost for the season to an Achilles tear.

“Kirk Cousins is going to be healthy again. I know he’s going to be a free agent after this season, but Kirk knows how I feel about him, and that will be something, you know, that hopefully will work itself out.”

Then, one week ago, Adofo-Mensah invoked a similar opinion regarding Cousins, “Yeah. I’ve been pretty consistent with that. Kirk the player is somebody that, as we saw what he does to this team, I thought we were playing really good football before he got injured. It’s the most important position in sports. It ultimately always comes down to can you find an agreement that works for both sides and all those things, but as a player it’s certainly my intention to have him back here.”

December 31, 2022; Glendale, Ariz; USA; Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy (9) throws a pass during the pregame before the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Ncaa Fiesta Bowl Game

He added, “These aren’t new conversations that are happening. Each side kind of understands the other, and we’re going to go have those conversations and see where we end up.”

The leadership duo has point-blank announced its intentions, and through two years of sample size, Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell don’t really lie or bloviate. They want Cousins back if the price is reasonable.

Thereafter, Minnesota owns its fanciest draft capital prize since 2015. Adofo-Mensah will pick 11th in the 2024 NFL Draft — 99 days away — and he can satisfy both quarterback options, a veteran and a promising youngster. The young executive also hinted last week that dropping “rebuild” from “competitive rebuild” is near, and drafting a quarterback with another waiting in the wings is the very definition of a competitive rebuild.

Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Jayden Daniels (LSU), Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), and Bo Nix (Oregon) are expected to go off the draftboard in Round 1. The Vikings would have to trade up for Williams, Maye, or Daniels. Penix Jr., McCarthy, and Nix should be available at No. 11.

But the time is now: The Vikings can have it both ways, a scenario uncommon in North Star State but routine in The Badger State.

Anything can happen in the next 14 weeks. Yet, the Vikings will likely hedge the bet — re-up with Cousins and draft the next guy. It’s the wisest choice if winning at all times is the constant priority.

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).

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