If Vikings Want to Copy Packers, This Is the Year to Do It

the Panic Button
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

In the last three decades, or since Brett Favre arrived in Green Bay, the Packers have been the favorite to win the NFC North in most seasons, with the exception of a few years in which the Vikings had strong teams. Aaron Rodgers followed Favre, leading the green rivals to a bunch of division titles. In the first season of Jordan Love’s reign, it sure looks like they have done it again.

If Vikings Want to Copy Packers, This Is the Year to Do It

Vikings fans might think it is unfair that Green Bay always has great quarterback play, and their organization can’t find any sustainable QB play, but the Packers have a unique approach to drafting and developing quarterbacks. That method is unusual in the NFL, and for some reason, nobody copies it.

If Vikings Want to Copy Packers, This Is the Year to Do It
Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) participate in training camp on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. © Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Rodgers’ and Love’s timelines couldn’t be more similar. They were drafted when the franchise still had a Hall of Fame quarterback under center, and neither was selected in the top 20 of their respective drafts. And then, because their predecessor had still been on the team, they were in the rare situation to just sit and learn behind them.

While other franchises throw their young and often unprepared passers into the fire, Green Bay stays patient, keeping the costly investment on the bench for not just one but three seasons.

When general managers draft a quarterback, they want to see what they have. Fans want to see the new guy perform, regardless of if he’s ready or not. Impatience is a killer for QB prospects and ruins them, although it can never be proven.

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.

Would Sam Darnold have worked out if he sat behind a veteran for three seasons? Or Zach Wilson? Christian Ponder? Regardless of the timeline and situation, they might not have worked out, but we will never know. It is obvious, though, that they were not ready, and it may have ruined their careers.

The good news is that Minnesota can recreate that situation if they want to. Kirk Cousins is scheduled to enter free agency in March, barring a contract extension. Everyone involved, the Vikings and Cousins, have stated their desire to keep their run alive, and if the franchise wants to go the Packers’ way, it would mean re-signing Cousins for three seasons. Well, he has mentioned that money isn’t as important as the contract structure in this negotiation round, so a three-year deal is likely a huge step in the right direction.

Of course, the franchise must be sure he can play at a decent level for another three seasons, which is quite the risk considering his age and the catastrophic injury he is coming off.

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.

In addition to re-signing the veteran, GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must start the Love-clock, pull the trigger in the draft, and find a passer. Now, he shouldn’t just draft someone to have a player in the building; he must make sure to identify the right guy, the signal-caller who can develop into a star.

And preferably, that prospect shouldn’t be 23 or 24 years old as he is planned to sit for three seasons. That player could be J.J. McCarthy, Michigan’s national champion, who will not turn 21 before January 20. An expensive trade would probably be required for Drake Maye, who is regarded as the second-best quarterback in the draft and is 21, for another seven months.

a Pivotal Vikings
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The three options are re-signing Cousins and drafting his successor, re-signing Cousins and addressing the defense in the draft, leaving a bleak succession plan for the passer, and the final option is to throw the rookie into the fire.

Considering Green Bay’s success and Minnesota’s struggles, it might be worth a shot to replicate the approach of the rivals.

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