The Minnesota Vikings would be hurting pretty badly if Kirk Cousins went down, so should they take a chance on Jameis Winston?
It’s been exactly two weeks since NFL teams can make free agent signings official, and Jameis Winston remains available. At this point he’s probably going to have to sign somewhere as a backup, without a clear opportunity to earn a starting job.
The Minnesota Vikings are in a win-now window, which they have theoretically extended two more years, with Kirk Cousins under center. Cousins has never missed a start due to injury in five seasons as a clear-cut starter, so for better or worse there’s stability in that. He’s rarely, if ever, even shown up on the injury report over that span.
But if Cousins were to go down to a significant injury, which can’t be ruled out behind what still looks to be a lackluster offensive line, the Vikings would be in quite a predicament. Sean Mannion will be back as the backup, with two NFL starts and 74 regular season pass attempts on his resume. A drafted rookie, like Jalen Hurts, may not be ready to take over immediately if Cousins were sidelined.
Winston is losing contract leverage literally by the day, so he and his agent may be inclined to take practically any offer that comes. With $12.7 million in cap space right now, the Vikings are operating in the bargain bin over whatever’s left of free agency.
Signing Winston carries decreasing risk, since he won’t be the locked-in Week 1 starter anywhere. So an embrace of the good and bad he brings is increasingly irrelevant, and a change of scenery stands to benefit him.
Winston is still just 26 years old, so after a year as a backup he could become the successor to an older quarterback somewhere. Cousins does not fit into that Ben Roethlisberger or Philip Rivers mold, but the Vikings could find a way to move on via a trade if 2020 doesn’t turn out as hoped.
Winston is probably not on the radar in Minnesota right now. But the longer he remains available the greater the chance a shocking suitor or two emerges, and the Vikings shouldn’t be ruled out as a landing spot.