Vikings Predicted to Start 9-Time Pro Bowl Quarterback in 2024

Nov 13, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) rolls out looking to pass the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

With the Vikings predicted to be interested in the 2024 QB sweepstakes, might a twofold approach be in order? The Minnesota Vikings could cook up a new plan on offense for 2024 with 9-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson if ESPN writer Seth Walder’s prediction falls into place.

Actually, Walder has two QBs in mind for the Vikings if the team moves on from Kirk Cousins. Walder notably predicts that Cousins will leave in free agency and sign with the Atlanta Falcons.

“Let’s call this Wilson plus Oregon’s Bo Nix,” Walder wrote. “Cousins might end up back in Minnesota, but I could see the Vikings balking at giving him a multiyear guaranteed contract. If he’s out of the picture, Wilson is probably the next-best short-term solution.”

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers linebacker Brian Burns (0) tries to get past Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O’Neill (75) to sack quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Walder presumes the Vikings can’t work a deal for Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields (the NFC North rival owns the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft). Teams generally don’t make major trades within the division, so Walder tabbed Fields for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting job as the Bears will draft and start former USC star QB Caleb Williams.

“But don’t be surprised if the Vikings go after multiple players to fill Cousins’ void. If they do, acquiring Wilson and drafting a QB at No. 11 makes the most sense,” Walder wrote.

Starting with Wilson, the Vikings could get an older star QB, 35, who has something left. Wilson completed 66.4% of his passes for 3,070 yards and 26 TDs versus eight interceptions for a 98.0 QB rating with the Denver Broncos in 2023.

Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson
Aug 24, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) meet after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

That resembled his Seattle Seahawks days versus his subpar 2022 season in Denver where he completed 60.5% of his passes for 3,524 yards and 16 TDs versus 11 picks amid an 84.4 QB rating. Nonetheless, second-year Broncos head coach Sean Payton could move on from Wilson this offseason, who recently spoke about his QB.

“There are several factors here. The cap projections came out, we’re further down the road with the draft class, obviously the pro free agents, so I would anticipate it within the next two weeks,” Payton said when discussing the Wilson decision (as relayed by ESPN’s Jeff Legwold on Wednesday).

Vikings Predicted to Pounce when Broncos Release Russell Wilson

Wilson has a 5-year, $242.58 million contract with the Broncos, and the team will take a $35.4 million salary cap hit from Wilson’s deal in 2024. It gets worse for the Broncos on March 17 with another $37 million becoming fully guaranteed for the 2025 season.

His contract plus his late-season benching and the Broncos missing the playoffs point to a parting of ways in the eyes of many NFL pundits.

NFL: Denver Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton Introductory Press Conference
Feb 6, 2023; Englewood, CO, USA; General manager George Paton speaks during a press conference at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Vikings, none of Wilson’s contract would follow him to Minnesota if the Broncos release him. It would give the Vikings a chance to sign a proven veteran and former Super Bowl winner but save money with Cousins out the door.

Cousins could cost the Vikings $39.3 million annually, per Spotrac. For a team with roughly $41 million in salary cap space with many solid players at key positions, it behooves the Vikings to spend moderately on a QB in 2024.

Especially if the Vikings can get two potential starters, as Walder suggested. That’s where Nix comes in as the predicted first-round draft pick.

Bo Nix Gives Vikings a Critical Second Option

Nix shined with the Ducks last season as he completed 77.4% of his passes for 45 TDs versus three interceptions for a 188.3 QB rating. He can be a running threat, too, amid his 744 yards rushing and 20 TDs on 143 carries in the past two seasons.

Jan 1, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) celebrates against the Liberty Flames during the 2024 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota could start Nix eventually if Wilson gets injured or regresses significantly from his 2023 performance. The Vikings have receiving threats in Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison to make Nix’s job easier right off the bat.

If the Vikings don’t need to start Nix in 2024, even better. Minnesota could develop him, and Nix could learn from Wilson and become the starter and franchise QB in a year or two.