Vikings Viewed as Destination for QB Bust

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It is the central question to answer for Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Will he re-sign Kirk Cousins for a seventh season with the organization or let him walk in free agency? And who will be his successor: a drafted player, a free agent, or both? That decision will shape the franchise in 2024 and beyond and surely indicate the competitiveness in the upcoming campaign. Expectations for the 2024 team are way higher with Cousins than without him.

Vikings Viewed as Destination for QB Bust

Quarterbacks on the market include Jimmy Garappolo, who is expected to be released, and the same can be said about Russell Wilson. Gardner Minshew is an unrestricted free agent just like Sam Darnold and former first-overall pick Baker Mayfield. Adofo-Mensah has also been doing his homework about the draft prospects.

Vikings Viewed as Destination for QB Bust
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) tries to elude the pressure of Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (94) during the first half of an NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Dec. 17, 2023. © Jim Rassol / USA TODAY NETWORK.

A route nobody really wants to go is the acquisition of a draft bust. New York’s Zach Wilson has been permitted to seek a trade, and somehow, Minnesota is viewed as a destination.

Well, the reasons are obvious: The Vikings don’t have a starting quarterback under contract, and the infrastructure is quite wonderful to develop a passer.

The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt wrote: “Kirk Cousins is a free agent, and Minnesota doesn’t have any young quarterbacks on the roster worth developing. In addition, quarterback-friendly coach (Kevin O’Connell) has a proven history of putting his QBs in position to succeed. This is the most intriguing potential destination.”

Build A Wide
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Folks use the same points when calling the Vikings a great spot for rookie passers. Having Justin Jefferson on board, flanked by T.J. Hockenson and Jordan Addison, is a phenomenal receiving corps, providing any signal-caller with exciting targets.

That, combined with Kevin O’Connell as a former quarterback whose scheme has proven to get production out of bad QBs, resulted in an outstanding spot for Wilson. Despite the uncertainty at left guard with Dalton Risner’s pending free agency, the offensive line is also miles ahead of New York’s.

So it makes sense for Wilson, but why would the Vikings acquire someone benched for Trevor Siemian and Tim Boyle just last season? Considering his disastrous first three campaigns in the league, he would be hard to sell as a serious starting quarterback. If the Vikings re-sign Cousins and want a talented project quarterback without breaking the bank in the draft’s first round, he might be an intriguing target.

Zach Wilson Whispers
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In exchange for a late draft choice, the Vikings could acquire a player who was the second overall pick three years ago and has outstanding physical tools that have flashed occasionally. The consistency has been a much bigger problem than the talent. 60-yard off-balance bombs out of a scramble drill can be found on his tape, though those flashes can hardly cover up his 23 touchdowns to 25 interceptions ratio.

Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells also praised Minnesota’s infrastructure for a QB when he mentioned the Vikings as one of three destinations for Wilson, as a backup for Cousins, of course: “Nick Mullens is under contract for another season, but he didn’t really endear himself to the coaching staff last season. The 28-year-old threw six touchdowns and eight interceptions in three starts, all losses. Whatever anyone’s thoughts about Wilson might be, he only had seven interceptions and 368 attempts last season. His career interception rate of 2.5 percent is significantly better than Mullens at 3.9 percent.”

a Pivotal Vikings
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Mullens has a higher interception ratio, and it can be frustrating to watch him play, but he has also delivered outrageous yardage numbers to go ahead with those turnovers. His career average for yards per attempt is an outstanding 8.0. Wilson’s number is a pedestrian 6.3.

If the Vikings hire Wilson for one season, it would be a fantastic opportunity for the 24-year-old, but it doesn’t make much sense for Minnesota to bet on someone with his track record. Taking a big swing at a passer in the draft is a more likely scenario.

Wilson has tabulated 33 starts in 34 games in his career, throwing for 6,293 yards, 23 TDs, and 25 INTs. His passer rating of 73.2 is poor, and he might have to work hard to even get a backup gig in the league without any competition. A franchise believing to be able to fix him would require a ton of faith.

His two selling points are his age, he will turn 25 in August, and the label as the second overall pick from 2021.

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