The Vikings’ QB Strategy May Hinge on a Single Team

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As February inches ever closer to March, basically anything seems possible when it comes to the Vikings’ QB strategy.

Kirk Cousins may be back but he has a good shot at playing elsewhere. The well-paid veteran enjoys being well paid, so his purple future is uncertain. Making a bold move to climb up in the draft is possible and yet we can’t discount the possibility of hopping to the end of the 1st.

Buyer Beware
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And then Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall are still on the roster; will either be entrusted with major snaps in 2024? Even a trade — Justin Fields? — can’t be outright dismissed. Kevin O’Connell has unique knowledge since he was an NFL QB before becoming an NFL head coach, but the situation he’s navigating is complex.

And lingering behind all of this uncertainty is the Atlanta Falcons, an NFC rival capable of throwing a wrench into Minnesota’s plans in both free agency and the draft.

The Vikings’ QB Strategy and The Falcons Circling Overhead

Atlanta has long been in the rumors for Mr. Cousins.

Take a look at how Dustin Baker explains things: “And Cousins would fit wonderfully in Atlanta. The Falcons possess offensive weapons itching for full deployment, a tactic inexplicably held back by former head coach Arthur Smith. Put simply, Cousins could feed Kyle Pitts, Bijan Robinson, and Drake London all day on Sundays — every Sunday. Some considered it a crime, mainly fantasy football managers, for Smith to blatantly ignore his playmakers as a habit.”

Have the Vikings Paid Kirk
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No doubt, the Falcons make a pile of sense, and yet the free agency route is merely half of the story.

Go ahead and look at the draft order. Where’s Atlanta? With the No. 8 pick, the Falcons are in a nice spot to snag a tumbling quarterback. The recent draft conversation has uplifted J.J. McCarthy as another QB who is going to be chosen very high. Do the Falcons at 8 make sense?

Nov 25, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws during the second half of the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State lost 30-24. © Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Vikings are sitting at 11th, meaning that a trade up may be necessary to undercut what Atlanta is capable of doing. If, for instance, the Vikings really are in love with McCarthy, then a trade up to 7th — owned by the Tennessee Titans and Ran Carthon, a friend of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah — may be required.

But then one thinks of a different scenario. Let’s say Minnesota can’t pull off a trade up, instead deciding to sit in their assigned draft slot. The Falcons then snatch a quarterback at 8th. Do the Vikings stick-and-pick a defender? Opt for Bo Nix or Michael Penix Jr.? Do they trade back?

These are the scenarios that Minnesota’s GM is running through as he preps for what’s to come in March and April.

Have a New Draft
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Truth be told, the events that are about to unfold in the coming weeks are impossible to predict. Dots can be connected and rumors will be leaked, but free agency needs to fully arrive and so does the draft. Those events are what’s going to bring clarity to the Vikings’ QB strategy.

The current vantage point, though, suggests that a single team — the Atlanta Falcons — possesses an unusual amount of power in how the Vikings are going to operate at the game’s most important position. Atlanta has a legitimate chance to steal away Minnesota’s veteran passer and/or draft the young passer Minnesota covets.

Free agency gets going on March 11th (legal tampering). On April 25th, the 2024 NFL Draft will begin. The Vikings, like the Falcons, will have some firm clarity about where things are headed at quarterback before May hits the calendar.

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K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.