Like many other teams, the Vikings are finishing player evaluations and preparing for free agency and the draft. Unlike 24 other teams, the Vikings are without any semblance of a quarterback room. The only quarterback on roster is Kyle Sloter, who was poached away from the Broncos after last year’s training camp. Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum and Sam Bradford are all free agents and apparently seeking starting roles.
Recent news on all three suggest none of them are in Minnesota’s long-term plans. There have been reports that Bradford is the most likely candidate for re-signing, however. The Vikings will not franchise Keenum nor will they seek to ensure Bridgewater’s contract tolls. Some sources have said that Bridgewater feels the Vikings disrespected him by not fighting for the toll.
This sets up Minnesota to go all-in on Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. The interest seems to be mutual as Cousins was on hand in Minnesota during the Super Bowl and let his interest slip. But here is where the water gets muddy. If the Vikings focus on Cousins and fail to sign him, the cupboard gets pretty bare. Losing out on Cousins would leave them with A.J. McCarron, E.J. Manuel and Josh McCown or finding someone in the draft.
Faced with this scenario, the Vikings’ plan B should be to make a push for McCarron. Signing him to a $10-12 million a year deal would allow Minnesota to re-sign Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter and Trae Waynes. It would also leave the Vikings in a position with significant cap space to fill other roster holes. That would include improving the offensive and defensive lines as well as secondary and receiver depth. Then in the draft, if a top quarterback prospect drops to them at 30, realistically Lamar Jackson, they could pull the trigger.
However, if the Vikings do sign Cousins, there is still a issue. The only backup on the roster is a promising practice squad player. This leaves Minnesota still scouring the free agent market or looking towards the draft. As such, the Vikings need to learn from the Redskins and Broncos. That is, if Minnesota is to draft a quarterback who is either a project or a backup, it should be in the later rounds. Drafting Cousins’ competition in the first few rounds, could have some detrimental effects. Look at the current situation with Bridgewater to see just how fragile the quarterback psyche can be sometimes. Another example would be Cousins own former team: The Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III and Cousins in the same draft. As a result, Griffin was looking over his shoulder his entire Redskins career.
The Vikings need to tread very carefully on finding their number two quarterback if they are able to sign Kirk Cousins. Recent reports have one or two first round quarterback talents falling to Minnesota at pick 30, most likely Jackson. That would leave the Vikings in a precarious spot. It may be difficult to resist drafting a first round quarterback talent if they are available. But the potential friction that could follow in the locker room as a result begs for the Vikings to hold course and pass in this situation. Hopefully they have learned from other teams’ drafts and are not doomed to repeat.