Predicted Vikings Starting QB Is Underwhelming but Makes Sense

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Crucial decisions will take place in Minnesota in the next few weeks. Kirk Cousins, the starting quarterback since 2018, could exit the franchise after six productive years. It is risky to accept his usual demands of a fully guaranteed contract at age 35 after a torn Achilles that might even accelerate an age-related decline, perhaps too risky for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

Predicted Vikings Starting QB Is Underwhelming but Makes Sense

Predicted Vikings Starting QB Is Underwhelming but Makes Sense
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Other options on the roster are Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall. Mullens is a turnover machine, although a fun one, who can start for a few games but should by no means enter a season as the intended starting signal caller. Hall showed massive deficiencies in his rookie season. The goal is for him to become a reliable backup down the road.

Without Cousins on the roster and the two backups incapable of taking over the full-time starting role, Adofo-Mensah must find a replacement. ESPN’s analyst Seth Walder projected the QB1 for all 32 teams, and his new Viking is Russell Wilson, but with an asterisk.

Let’s call this Wilson plus Oregon’s Bo Nix. Cousins might end up back in Minnesota, but I could see the Vikings balking at giving him a multiyear guaranteed contract. If he’s out of the picture, Wilson is probably the next-best short-term solution. (I’m assuming the Bears wouldn’t deal Justin Fields inside their division.) But don’t be surprised if the Vikings go after multiple players to fill Cousins’ void. If they do, acquiring Wilson and drafting a QB at No. 12 makes the most sense.

the Vikings getting
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Wilson is a fascinating player. Formerly a Super Bowl-winning QB and a nine-time Pro Bowler, now just an afterthought in Denver. The Broncos benched him in 2023, and there is no reason to keep him and his massive contract on the team. They are expected to release the veteran and eat the immense dead cap hit. The connection between Sean Payton and him just didn’t work.

His statistics looked pretty solid last season, but ask any Broncos fan; he still didn’t play well enough, and paying elite QB money for an at-best-average quarterback is a disaster.

There’s a catch, though. Once the Broncos release him, he would still get his salary for the 2024 season from them, as $39 million was guaranteed minus his earnings from the new team because of offset language in the contract. That means he will get $39 million next season regardless of how much he will get paid from a different franchise unless it is more than that, and that scenario is unlikely.

The Vikings could get him for just $1.21 million, the veteran minimum. Wilson is undoubtedly past his prime and isn’t a shiny option like one of the top QB prospects but he surely is a bargain who can operate Kevin O’Connell’s offense until a drafted player is ready.

PFF Has The Same
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix celebrates after running for a touchdown as the Oregon Ducks host Colorado in the Pac-12 opener on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. © Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Enter Bo Nix. Orgon’s passer enjoyed a wonderful season but is still a controversial prospect. He has more experience in college football than anyone else but is still viewed as a project to some extent.

In two seasons at Oregon, Nix threw for 8,101 yards and 74 touchdowns to go along with 20 scores on the ground. He has a good arm and is a big quarterback, built to run over defenders. His physical attributes are exciting and could help him get drafted earlier than he perhaps should be. Oregon’s screen and RPO-focused offense make an evaluation almost impossible.

Nix has some intriguing tools, but after 61 college games at the age of 25, one should wonder how much untapped potential there actually is.

Forced by Broncos
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy celebrates after the 34-13 win over Washington to win the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Regardless of the exact choice, the Vikings are in the market for a quarterback in April’s draft. They currently hold the 11th overall pick, too late for the highly-touted top-of-the-class Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels. Even J.J. McCarthy’s latest buzz indicates that he is far from guaranteed to be available when Adofo-Mensah is on the clock. Trading up for one of them is possible.

The combination of a veteran and a rookie is the most likely outcome if Cousins departs in March. Whether those two guys are Wilson and Nix remains to be seen.

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