Vikings Fans Should Sneer at a “Bridge QB”

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Within the next month, Minnesota Vikings fans will learn the outcome of Kirk Cousins’ would-be contract extension. The 35-year-old is not contractually obligated to the Vikings beyond the 2023 season, and if general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah doesn’t pen Cousins to an extension, he’ll test the open market for the first time in six years.

Vikings Fans Should Sneer at a “Bridge QB”

Should Cousins see the light of free agency, teams like the Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, and Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to express interest. Cousins is recovering from an Achilles tear suffered in October at Lambeau Field, but most NFL pundits believe he’ll still fetch a contract at or north of $40 million per season in 2024.

Fans Should Sneer
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Then, if the Vikings do not re-sign Cousins, Minnesota will need a new starting quarterback, either via free agency, the draft, or trade. These are all the realistic options:

  1. Re-sign Kirk Cousins and draft no quarterback
  2. Re-sign Kirk Cousins and draft a quarterback
  3. Trade for a veteran like Justin Fields; Cousins not re-signed
  4. Draft a quarterback and start Nick Mullens as a bridge quarterback
  5. Draft a quarterback and sign a different bridge quarterback
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Adding Cousins back for a year or two might be the likeliest plan, but if the club decides against that path, Vikings fans should be wary of a “bridge quarterback.” Why? Well, if the Vikings’ front office genuinely wants a bridge quarterback, it should just spend the extra dollars on Cousins. It doesn’t make much sense to sign a Russell Wilson for cheap and draft the quarterback-in-waiting.

The proposal is this: if the Vikings, in their heart of hearts, believe they can win a Super Bowl with Cousins, re-sign the man outright. If the answer is no to that question, draft a rookie quarterback in April and start that man on Day One.

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Bridge quarterbacks are homages to the past. It’s how the NFL used to do it, and the Vikings were frequent participants. The Houston Texans didn’t “bridge” C.J. Stroud with Case Keenum or Davis Mills. They let ‘er rip with Stroud, and he won the NFL’s Rookie of the Year trophy five months later.

Meanwhile, the Vikings already have two bridge options at quarterback named Cousins and Nick Mullens. They could even re-sign Joshua Dobbs for cheap if a bridge quarterback were mandatory. They don’t need to spend $30+ million on Baker Mayfield or sign Russell Wilson just to meander through the regular season.

Nick Mullens got his first start as the Minnesota Vikings QB on Saturday at Cincinnati. Minnesota lost 27-24, but Mullens was productive while causing a couple of turnovers. He joined the Vikings in late summer of 2022 and has served as the team’s QB2 since.

A bridge quarterback is just a segue to a season in the ballpark of 6-11 to 9-8. Minnesota shouldn’t live in the zone any longer. The Vikings should convince themselves that Cousins “is the way” to the Promised Land or start taking lumps with the unnamed rookie passer from the draft. Everything else is in-between limbo.

Pick a side: roll with Cousins with the assumption a Super Bowl can be won or start the 1st-Round quarterback in September. Anything else is just lollygagging.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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