Cousins, Tua, Wilson? Vikings Linked to a New Veteran QB

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It didn’t take long for Minnesota’s offseason to arrive in the crazy territory of speculation, but that happens when the team underperforms, fails to qualify for the postseason, and doesn’t have a starting quarterback on the roster. The many names associated with the Vikings to take over for Kirk Cousins are quite interesting, and it won’t change until the franchise extends the veteran’s deal or signs or drafts someone else.

Cousins, Tua, Wilson? Vikings Linked to a New Veteran QB

Cousins, Tua, Wilson? Vikings Linked to a New Veteran QB
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Cousins has been with the franchise for six years, but it is his first offseason without a guaranteed deal for the upcoming year since he entered free agency in 2018 before moving to Minnesota. One hundred seventy-one passing touchdowns and 23,265 passing yards later, he is once again scheduled to be a free agent.

Coming off a torn Achilles at age 35 (36 when the season begins), there is some risk for the Vikings to keep him or another franchise to acquire the four-time Pro Bowler, regardless of his excellent play in 2023.

Some voices in Minnesota want to move on from the veteran and find his successor in the draft. But without a top pick that guarantees an elite draft prospect like Caleb Williams or even Drake Maye, that rookie perhaps isn’t ready to start in his debut season, making it necessary to sit behind a veteran.

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That veteran could be Cousins, but cheaper alternatives like Russell Wilson or Ryan Tannehill are possible. While those two guys come off a disappointing season that ended with them watching games on the bench, one other free agent had a wonderful year, and it started with a victory over the Vikings.

Baker Mayfield is still playing on a one-year $4 million deal, and he will be an unrestricted free agent in March unless the Tampa Bay Buccaneers extend his contract. Bleacher Report’s Ryan Fowler views the purple team as a great fit for the former first-overall pick:

Who wouldn’t want to throw to Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison? T.J. Hockenson, too? Mayfield would likely love to make his way north to lead the Vikings for a roster that is entering put-up-or-shut-up time under head coach Kevin O’Connell.

The Vikings spent a fifth-round pick on Jaren Hall last season as a potential successor to Kirk Cousins, but that ship might have already sailed. They’ll need an upgrade if Cousins does walk in free agency.

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The surroundings in Minnesota, indeed, are wonderful for a quarterback to prosper. Throwing the ball to a plethora of weapons, including arguably the best wideout in the NFL and emerging rookie Jordan Addison, while also having tight end T.J. Hockenson working in the middle of the field.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah currently has two passers under contract for the upcoming season: Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall.

Mullens proved that he is a solid backup who gives his weapons chances and can put up big numbers, but the lack of arm talent and his absurd interception numbers also indicate that he isn’t more than that. Hall, meanwhile, shouldn’t be written off after playing roughly three quarters in his rookie season, but it would be a longshot to expect him to turn into a starter in the NFL.

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Mayfield has revived his career, which was derailed when the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson. He went from battling Kyle Trask for the starting role to guiding the Buccaneers into the postseason and to a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. A marvelous story.

In 2023, he produced career-high numbers of 4,044 passing yards and 28 passing touchdowns and certainly is capable of leading the Vikings for a year. The problem, however, is that he has done enough to earn a contract from Tampa Bay and is unlikely to be the cheap one-year stop-gap the Vikes need in case the rookie isn’t ready to start right away.

a Pivotal Vikings
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So signing him only makes sense if Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell envision him as the solution for two or three years. And that is unlikely. If the Vikings want to be a veteran for a few more years instead of bringing in a young player, they would just keep Cousins.

It is an interesting thought because Mayfield is probably the best passer on the market outside of Cousins, but it is highly unlikely that he will wear the purple jersey in 2024.

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