Analyst Provides Intriguing QB Scenario for 2024 Vikings

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With Kirk Cousins set to enter free agency in March, the Vikings only have veteran backup Nick Mullens and 2023 rookie Jaren Hall under contract at the most important position, and we have all seen that neither of those two should be the starting passer of a serious football team that wants to compete for a playoff ticket.

Analyst Provides Intriguing QB Scenario for 2024 Vikings

Analyst Provides Intriguing QB Scenario for 2024 Vikings
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So, there are three options for how the Vikings could fill the spot of the signal-caller. They can extend Cousins’ deal, preferably on a team-friendly deal, as he will turn 36 in August and is coming off a torn Achilles, although getting the most possible money out of a contract negotiation has always been his priority.

The Vikes could also opt for a different veteran to steer the team. Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield are perhaps the biggest names in the pool, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensha could finally try to find the future franchise quarterback in the draft.

Vikings QB Situation
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Those are the three ways a franchise can fill the QB spot. But there’s a fourth. They could opt to re-sign Cousins while still drafting his successor. CBS Sports analyst Cody Benjamin projects that. He thinks the Vikings will hand Cousins a two-year contract for $76 million.

Before 2023, Cousins was widely considered a good, serviceable starter — nothing more, nothing less. Then, in a contract year, he went on a tear before suffering the first serious injury of his career, and Minnesota’s slew of turnover-happy replacements underscored his steady hand. The Vikings would be smart not to overcompensate for his loss, overlooking longer-term upside for the sake of yet another reunion. But they have the flexibility to bring him back while also throwing a dart elsewhere. And while Cousins has capitalized on free agency before, he likes Minnesota and could prioritize familiarity at 35.

Cousins indeed played the best football of his career in the seven quarters before getting injured. He was on pace for a career-high in passing touchdowns after just dismantling the 49ers in primetime, and the division rivals Packers. He looked more comfortable than he ever had.

The franchise passer was taken for granted for a long time, but folks are starting to realize that life without him isn’t that great. Of course, his future replacements shouldn’t be a career backup and late-round rookie, but it is still scary how a team without a quarterback is held back. The poor QB play probably helps him get a new deal from the Vikings for another year or two. But considering he is getting up in age and coming off a devastating injury, the Vikings shouldn’t be making any long-term commitments in case of a potential decline, so the two-year contract would make sense.

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy looks to pass against Iowa during the first half of the Big Ten championship game at Luca Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

In addition to keeping Cousins, Benjamin views Minnesota as a wonderful spot for Michigan’s QB J.J. McCarthy.

If there’s a QB prospect destined to rise late in the draft process, it might be McCarthy, whose pocket presence and accuracy as both a tight-window and play-action thrower could give him a relatively high floor in the NFL. CBS Sports draft expert Ryan Wilson believes he’s comparable to Ryan Tannehill when the Titans QB was coming out of Texas A&M.

Tannehill is not the pro comparison a team wants the future franchise quarterback to have, but it makes sense, as the veteran has always had underrated athleticism and a solid arm. McCarthy also has excellent timing and is an accurate passer, making him an intriguing player for Kevin O’Connell’s offense, especially with two years of learning behind Cousins without any pressure.

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Michigan’s QB turns 21 in January, so sitting for a couple of seasons is reasonable. Benjamin thinks the Vikings could get him in the second round, but it should be noted that most regard him as a first-round prospect.

The QB tandem Cousins/McCarthy would be perfect for the competitive rebuild, as Adofo-Mensah calls it. Having Cousins under contract ensures two years of at least playoff contention until the end of the season, barring injuries or a steep decline, and then McCarthy would embody the rebuilding phase, but with two years in the offense, he would be ready in year three, hopefully able to keep the franchise in the competitive stage.

The offseason will be fascinating as the Vikings can go in many different directions at the quarterback position. With the additional need to strengthen the defense, Adofo-Mensah must allocate his resources — draft picks and salary cap – -in the right spot.

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