In a Few Months, The Vikings Should Strongly Consider Drafting a QB…While Also Re-Signing Kirk Cousins

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Since taking over as the Vikings’ GM, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has made it his personal mission to destroy false dichotomies. Or, at the very least, he has articulated his disdain for them as he pushes his squad through an intentionally murky competitive rebuild.

One wonders, then, what the young executive thinks of the broader discussion surrounding what the Vikings should do at quarterback in a few months.

Our divided world has given way to at least two large factions within Vikings fandom. The pro-draft crowd thinks that sinking a high selection into a QB makes sense since it’ll give Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell their young franchise quarterback to build around (while liberating plenty of cap room to accommodate the other stars). On the other side is a group that has been impressed by Cousins’ ongoing commitment to improving his craft and then his ever-increasing clutch factor. Had there been no injury, Cousins was careening toward an All Pro nod and maybe even a deep playoff run following the 2023 season.

The Vikings Should Consider All Options at QB (Including the Third Way)

Admittedly, things could get crowded quick.

The Vikings genuinely do think highly of both Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall. The veteran has a ton of confidence on the field and the arm talent to get the ball to his playmakers. He prepares well and is well-liked by his teammates. Put differently, he is the perfect backup.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) changes the play at the line of scrimmage prior to a snap in the first quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Hall has been impressive, too. Sure, his ability to run the football is exciting and he has some decent zip on his ball, but it’s what’s between his ears that is most impressive. The rookie QB is smart, a necessary attribute for a Kevin O’Connell quarterback. Plus, he comes across as being even-keeled and mature. Playing QB in the NFL isn’t for the faint of heart, so Hall seems well-suited for the task.

Bringing Cousins back into the mix would instantly give the Vikings a full QB room that has a clearly-defined hierarchy (and that’s not even accounting for Joshua Dobbs, who seems very unlikely to return to Minnesota).

Nov 27, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) warms up before the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The point, of course, is simply that tossing a 1st- or 2nd-round QB into the mix wouldn’t be without some complications.

In that scenario, the QB position would swell to four players and there wouldn’t necessarily be an easy fix. Cutting Mullens or Hall would be a possibility but both are strong players whom the team wants to keep around. A trade could occur but the downside is simply that the Vikings would be saying goodbye to someone they think highly of. These downsides will need to be factored into the equation when going into free agency and the NFL draft.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell (left) and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah react during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The upside, though, is that retaining Cousins and acquiring a highly-regarded rookie would allow the Vikings to continue travelling within their binary-defying philosophy.

In the short term, Cousins would be in charge of keeping things competitive. The ultra-brainy and consistent Cousins has proven to be a nice fit with O’Connell. The veteran’s smarts and accuracy go hand-in-glove with what O’Connell wants out of the game’s most important position. Yes, there is the Achilles injury to worry about, but the recovery seems to be going well and plenty of people have come back from the injury to do have great careers (as Cousins understands).

The upside rookie — J.J. McCarthy, Michael Penix, Bo Nix, someone else? — could marinate on the bench while working within a QB room that’s loaded with brainy talent and while under the tutelage of a head coach who played the position in the NFL. In two or three years, the youngster could take the reins with tremendous on-the-job training in tow.

Dec 5, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) yells out before the snap during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

Going into 2024, the Vikings should be very hesitant to jettison Cousins. The offense is loaded with skill and the defense (with the right coaching) is capable of playing at a high level. The surest way to sink that kind of roster is to insert subpar QB play. In other words, don’t be too quick to move on from someone who has proven to be capable of top-10 play at quarterback.

And yet there should also be some reluctance to completely overlook a draft class that has some impressive talent at QB. Being a successful NFL team on a yearly basis — Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s goal — is supremely difficult if there isn’t consistent excellence at quarterback. Snagging a young fella and rallying around him for years is the best way of doing so.

Smash these two thoughts together and one wonders if we’ll see the GM once again prove that he won’t be bound by the false dichotomies that sometimes cling onto NFL decision makers. Opting for a QB high in the draft while also re-signing Kirk Cousins is the third way option that isn’t unlikely for the Minnesota Vikings.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.