Minnesota Vikings fans know all too well what a disaster the team’s quarterback situation was in the last half of the season. The roller coaster that was Jaren Hall to Josh Dobbs to Nick Mullens, back to Hall, and finally Mullens again was dizzying. The Vikings and their fans fully realized how much they missed the talent, consistency, and durability of long-time starter Kirk Cousins.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) January 21, 2024
And there are plenty of unknowns at the position as the Vikings plan for the 2024 season. Do they bring Cousins back to bring some stability to the position? Or do they enter free agency and turn the reins over to a Baker Mayfield or a Ryan Tannehill?
Do they throw the dice and draft one of the of the talented quarterbacks, like Bo Nix or Michael Penix and weather the storm that comes with handing the ball to a rookie quarterback? Or do they opt to go with a combination of some of these scenarios? And what are the short and long-term consequences of these various decisions.
We’ll take a look at the various options that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, coach Kevin O’Connell, and the rest of the Vikings brass have before them. And we will try to predict the consequences of all these decisions. Hang on, cuz it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Vikings Resign Kirk Cousins
This is the most straight forward option but one that is not risk free. The Vikings know what to expect with Cousins under center. A durable, consistent performer who shows flashes of brilliance. His record in big games is somewhat suspect, but some of that is related to the teams he was associated with.
The risks? Kirk will be looking for a three-year deal. The Vikings would like to make it a two-year pact, but Cousins is aware this might his last contract as an NFL player. The price will be steep but the if the Vikings go this route, you will see a lot of deferred money in the contract.
And Cousins will be a 36-year quarterback coming off a serious Achilles injury. How quickly and how fully he recovers are unknowns until he gets back on the field. But this remains one of the most probable scenarios that the team could exercise.
Sign a Veteran Quarterback
If the Vikings decide to let Cousins walk, they could opt to sign another veteran quarterback as a short-term solution. The names that are most bandied about are free agents Mayfield and Tannehill. Also in the conversation is disgruntled Denver quarterback Russell Wilson.
All of these quarterbacks could do a serviceable job for the team, and they would probably come with lower price tag than Cousins. But they would all have to learn O’Connell’s intricate offense in short order which is no small feat.
Going this route would also mean that the Vikings expect to be a competitive team in 2024. But I still believe that this is not the top option on the team’s list.
Vikings Draft a Rookie Starter
This one might be the sexiest option but also the one most fraught with danger. Because for every C.J. Stroud success story, there are ten Zach Wilsons who blew up in teams faces. If your goal is to be competitive in the coming season. this is not the route to go.
It is more than likely if the Vikings choose this path, that they are resigning themselves to a non-competitive rebuild. This is not the route that I think owners Zygi and Mark Wilf want to take.
The Hybrid Solution
This is the option that I believe the Vikings will choose. They will sign Cousins to a two or three-year deferred contract. This accomplishes two goals. First it brings stability back to this key position. Second, it will placate Justin Jefferson as they attempt to sign him to a long-term contract.
The draft end of this solution is a little trickier. By the time the Vikings make their initial draft pick at number 11 of the first round, the three premier rookie quarterbacks will be off the board. It is a given that neither USC’s Caleb Williams nor North Carolina’s Drake Maye will make it out of the top ten picks. It is also improbable that LSU’s Jayden Daniels will be available when the Vikings make their first selection.
That would mean that Vikings would more than likely pick one of the second-tier quarterbacks to be their leader of the future. This group includes Oregon’s Bo Nix, Washington’s Michael Penix and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.
So, the question then would be, do they reach for one of those three with the 11th pick or do they trade down and draft one of them later in the first round, while also securing another high draft pick? My guess is that they draft down and choose the most pro ready of the trio, Bo Nix.
Am I in the ballpark with my predictions? Maybe you think I am off my crazy rocker? Or am I somewhere in between? I would love to hear your comments on my predictions and also your predictions for solving the Vikings quarterback conundrum.