With free agency and the NFL draft concluded, the Minnesota Vikings now begin preparing for the 2018 NFL season.
This team was just a game away from playing in the Super Bowl before a massive collapse against the eventual champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings were arguably winners in free agency with their additions before leveling out in the draft.
Over the next few weeks, Full Press Coverage will preview and examine each position on the Vikings roster and where they stand going into training camp.
We’ll start the series at the position that saw the biggest change of the offseason: quarterback.
After cycling through Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, and Case Keenum over the past three seasons, the Vikings decided to end the revolving door at football’s most important position and signed Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84 million deal in March to be the man under center.
Cousins has been among the league’s most productive quarterbacks the past three years while with the Washington Redskins. He’s averaged just under 4,400 yards and 27 touchdown passes a year while completing 67 percent of his throws during that time span.
If Cousins brings one downside, it’s a reputation for turnovers. In each of the past three seasons, his interceptions have ticked upwards. In addition to throwing 13 picks, he also lost 5 of 13 fumbles in 2017.
However, one must also look at the roster he had in 2017 with Washington versus what he’ll inherit in 2018 in Minnesota. When also looking at the coaching staff he’ll also be working with, it’s not far fetched to wonder if Cousins can reach new heights while also being the answer the team has sought for nearly a decade.
Trevor Siemian will assume backup duties behind Cousins after starting the past two years with the Denver Broncos. Despite being in and out of a starting job much of 2017, there’s a strong belief that with the upgrade in talent around him that Siemian can have some success in Minnesota if pressed into duty.
Kyle Sloter and Peter Pujals will compete for the third string duties, assuming the Vikings will carry a third quarterback on the active roster in 2018. Whoever wins, however, is more likely to end up on the practice squad than on the active roster.
With Cousins, the Vikings have someone who’s been on the brink of top-10 for two years. They upgraded skill positions to, hopefully, give him versatile options. They also already sport one of the league’s top defenses.
The Vikings have few roster weaknesses. In theory, Cousins is the missing link between a strong regular season and a Super Bowl run. Unless he gets hurt or simply can’t get on the same page with the rest of the offense, it’s hard not to see him put up a career year.
One thing is certain though. For the first time in two years, the Vikings are on track to go into the season without questions at the NFL’s most important position.
Final Spring Evaluation
The Vikings ended up with one of the better quarterback rooms in the league last season. They’ve worked this offseason to ensure that it continues in 2018.
Even after signing Cousins in free agency, they made the trade for Siemian, a backup with starting experience. Minnesota lucked out with Keenum outperforming expectations last year. The Vikings likely had that in mind when they decided to make the trade.
The Vikings not only upgraded the starting quarterback position, but also made sure to have a quality backup if the worse were to happen. Rick Spielman definitely learned from 2017, and has applied that lesson accordingly.
Current Position Grade: B+