On Super Bowl Sunday, Vikings Linked to New QB.

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports.

In the next four weeks and perhaps before the end of the month, the Minnesota Vikings are expected to make a final decision on quarterback Kirk Cousins’ free agency, a man who has led the club for six consecutive seasons.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Vikings Linked to New QB.

If Cousins hits the open market, he’s forecasted to fetch $45 million per year via his next contract, although Vikings fans hold out hope he’ll accept a “team-friendly” deal in Minnesota, an arrangement he’s never embraced while with the franchise.

Super Bowl Sunday
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports.

And if Minnesota cuts ties with the 35-year-old, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could pursue former third overall pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, Sam Darnold, who will be the San Francisco 49ers’ QB2 in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s the word from NFL.com on Sunday.

“The Vikings want to re-sign Kirk Cousins, who is set to hit free agency in March for the first since 2018. But Cousins is expected to have a strong market, even coming off a torn Achilles as he enters his age-36 season, and Minnesota is evaluating all options in the event Cousins lands elsewhere,” NFL.com published in an article written by Tom Pelissero, Ian Rapoport, and Mike Garafolo.

Subtract Any
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Teams led by Darnold are 21-35 (.375) in 56 career starts, mostly the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers. In six seasons, he’s banked 63 passing touchdowns and 56 interceptions, with 182.8 passing yards per game.

NFL.com added about the Darnold-to-Minnesota theory, “If the price tag gets too high, the Vikings likely would pursue a more economical veteran and hope that player becomes this year’s Baker Mayfield — current 49ers backup Sam Darnold, among others, would make sense — while also potentially drafting a QB. (Minnesota owns the No. 11 overall pick).”

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

On selecting a rookie quarterback, Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Jayden Daniels (LSU), Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), and Bo Nix (Oregon) are expected to go off the board in Round 1. Minnesota could likely draft Penix Jr., McCarthy, or Nix with its 11th overall pick but would probably have to trade up the board for Williams, Maye, or Daniels.

If the plan were hatched — signing Darnold and drafting a rookie passer — Darnold would reasonably considered a “patchover” quarterback, holding down the fort until the new guy was ready. Few expect Darnold to morph into the QB1 savior or solution for the long haul, but stranger things have happened, like Mayfield, for example, mentioned by NFL.com.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.

Finally, if the NFL.com reporting is correct and the Vikings spring for a quarterback in Round 1, it will be their first time since Teddy Bridgewater in 2014. It’s been 10 years since Minnesota has drafted a quarterback in Round 1 or 2.

The Vikings have also never chosen a quarterback in the Top 10 of a draft — ever.

Darnold will turn 27 in June. His next contract should fetch between $5 million and $10 million per season.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.