Vikings QB Market Got Considerably More Complicated

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The Minnesota Vikings have reached a crossroads with quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is set to enter the free agency market for the first time since 2018, when he signed with the purple team. Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall are the two passers on the roster, so what will the franchise do at the most important position on the team?

Vikings QB Market Got Considerably More Complicated

Vikings QB Market Got Considerably More Complicated
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As the 2023 Vikings have proven, it is extremely hard to win games with backup quarterback play, and it should be doubted that Hall and Mullens will suddenly exceed that level. Veteran Mullens is a solid backup because he isn’t scared to launch the ball 40 times, and even after three interceptions, he will try to thread the needle. That gunslinger mentality is why he is in the league, but it is also why he shouldn’t start a bunch of games.

Hall, meanwhile, hasn’t shown enough to be considered for the starting gig. The Vikings need a new quarterback, and the draft is undoubtedly the best way to get that quarterback in the future. However, the Vikings draft 11th overall, so they can’t be sure to acquire one of the top prospects and have to protect the franchise in case they can’t land one.

A bridge QB must be acquired if Cousins doesn’t return. Someone with starting experience who can at least keep the ship going, although he would still be a massive downgrade compared to the four-time Pro Bowler.

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But those options are limited, and some of them are already off the board. The Steelers agreed to terms with nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson on Sunday. The veteran is not in his prime anymore, but he was available for the veteran minimum and could’ve been serviceable in purple. He will ride in Pittsburgh in 2024.

Mac Jones is a name that was floated around in recent years as a potential Cousins successor, but he will be the backup in Jacksonville as they acquired him for a sixth-round pick. Besides Cousins, the best available QB, Baker Mayfield, signed a $100 million contract in Tampa Bay.

Who is actually available in the pool of signal-callers who are low-end starters or high-end backups and can get the job done in Minnesota’s high-powered offense?

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) looks for a receiver against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. NFL Indianapolis Colts At Tennessee Titans.

Former Titans QB Ryan Tannehill guided Tennessee’s offense for years but was never asked to carry the team by throwing the ball all game. The luxury of having Derrick Henry under contract. He also hasn’t been any good lately, throwing more INTs than TDs in 2023 before he was benched for rookie Will Levis.

Sam Darnold, a journeyman in the NFL, has been a hot name in the league after sitting a year behind Brock Purdy in San Francisco. He has never been in a stable franchise, and his offensive surroundings have largely been a mess. Regardless, his level of play has always matched that. Darnold will have a bunch of suitors, and it might not be easy to acquire them, but he was named by Ian Rapoport as the potential successor in Minnesota.

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Gardner Minshew is a fan favorite around the league, and he kept the Colts in the playoff race last year. However, his statistics have been average at best. He might be the best option to appease a fan base who wants someone to give them hope.

Jameis Winston was a turnover machine early in his career, but he has improved his ball protection in recent years. Could Kevin O’Connell use the former first-overall selection and his talented arm?

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Jacoby Brissett, also a journeyman in the NFL, has played sneakily well in the last few seasons whenever he has been given the chance. He is a pure pocket passer without any mobility but has the arm to feed the weapons.

Drew Lock, a former second-rounder, had a solid start to his career in Denver but was benched for Teddy Bridgewater, which was the first red flag. After the trade for Russell Wilson, he lost the QB competition to Geno Smith. A third team must try to restore the early success.

None of these players would give the fan base any hope of making a playoff run, but some of them are at least good enough to keep the offense going with elite weaponry. The Vikings must sign one of those guys, but identifying the right one, the player with the most upside, and then actually signing him will be tricky.

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