The Minnesota Vikings will be running it back with Kirk Cousins next season, but they need to get a quarterback of the future in the 2021 draft.
The Minnesota Vikings ponied up on a three-year, $84 million deal for Kirk Cousins in March of 2018, and they’ve gotten a 25-22-1 regular season record and one playoff appearance for the trouble. Via an extension last March, Cousins is under contract for two more years.
It’s possible, but not necessarily likely, that the Vikings can move off of Cousins this offseason. A trade is the only viable path, but it’s far more likely general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer dig their heels in and run it back pretty much as is next season.
At this point, Cousins is what he is and he is not the Vikings’ biggest problem going forward. Yes, his salary cap hit ($31 million for 2021) makes it hard to do anything notable to bolster the roster in free agency, but there are bigger philosophical issues in play.
The Vikings should secure a QB of the future in the 2021 draft
The Vikings have the 14th overall pick in April’s draft. They have more urgent needs to address (offensive line, defensive end), but there’s a case to take a quarterback of the future with that pick.
Looking to 2022, moving on from Cousins gets a lot easier. Via Over The Cap, cutting him (pre-June 1) clears $35 million of his $45 million cap hit, leaving a $10 million dead money hit. A trade has the same implications.
Looking at the incoming quarterback class, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance are widely lined up to go somewhere in the top-10. Maybe one falls, but there’s a more realistic option in play for the Vikings as they look for someone to follow Cousins.
Once Monday night’s national title game is done, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is all but certain to declare for April’s draft. After a breakout season in his first season as the starter (4,036 yards, 36 touchdowns, four interceptions entering the game against Ohio State), his stock can’t get higher.
Outside the top-10, only the San Francisco 49ers at No. 12 are lined up to consider a quarterback before the Vikings go on the clock. So Jones may fall into their laps.
Zimmer will surely protest that he needs defensive help, but Spielman should secure the quarterback of the future if there’s a clear opportunity. Jones (or anyone else) would sit behind Cousins for a year, but that’s fine.