The Minnesota Vikings have a number of questions regarding their roster heading into the 2023 offseason. Despite Kirk Cousins more than likely remaining the starting QB next season, the quarterback spot remains a topic of hot debate as the offseason gets underway. Minnesota also has a number of different options towards filling their quarterback spot in 2023 and into the future. Here is a basic synopsis of the 5 ways the Vikings can approach their QB position this offseason.
Run It Back
The Minnesota Vikings had the most complete QB room that they’ve had since bringing Kirk Cousins into the organization. After years of running out backups like Sean Mannion who had limited playing experience, Minnesota made a move to bring in a quality backup behind Cousins in Nick Mullens.
With Cousins having a no-trade clause going into the final year of his contract, it’s extremely unlikely that he won’t be the starting quarterback during the 2023 season, barring injuries. Meanwhile, Mullens is set to hit free agency this offseason after his contract expires.
That being said, it should be fairly easy to retain Mullens in Minnesota if they want him to remain a Viking into 2023. Mullens made over $1 million for the first time in 2022, so the cap space that will needed to be dedicated to him shouldn’t be insanely high.
On top of that, Mullens played decent football in the few chances that he got during the regular season. Granted, he only played in games where the Vikings were getting blown out, or Week 18 against the tanking Bears, but he remains a very quality backup QB in this league who could even be part of the plan post-Cousins in Minnesota.
This is going to be a hotly contested topic throughout the offseason, but the Vikings could opt to offer yet another contract extension to Kirk Cousins. The first year of Cousins paired with new head coach Kevin O’Connell ended in one of the best overall seasons we’ve seen from the Vikings QB1, helping Minnesota to a 13-4 record.
Cousins is entering his age-35 season, so it would be wise for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell to seriously consider life after Kirk this offseason. However, maybe they aren’t convinced on a pathway to finding their next QB in this draft, or they may not want to throw a rookie into the fire during 2024.
If that ends up being the case, we can’t rule out another extension being offered to Cousins as he enters what is currently the final year of his contract. Additionally, said extension could help free up immediate cap space to bring in free agent help on the defensive side of the ball.
Intriguing Backup Options in Free Agency
Even if Minnesota wants to bring back Mullens for 2023, there’s a real chance that other teams will be looking at the backup QB with a keen eye. Because of that, the Vikings front office will have to pay attention to the free agency market in order to fill the backup QB role.
There are a few intriguing options in this department. Here are a few of the QBs set to hit free agency this offseason that could come at a cheap price tag for Minnesota (cheap being $5 million or less):
- Andy Dalton
- Sam Darnold
- Case Keenum
- Drew Lock
- Gardner Minshew
Granted, someone like Andy Dalton doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence for life after Cousins, and frankly, none of the players on this list fit the bill of “future franchise QB” based on what we’ve seen so far. Of the guys with the most potential here, it’s certainly Minshew.
Obviously, the majority of Vikings fans discussing this possibility have been talking about Trey Lance. The San Francisco 49ers traded up to the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft in order to select Lance, and after sitting behind Jimmy Garoppolo for the 2021 season, a broken ankle ended his 2022 season.
In all, Lance has started just four games in his first two NFL seasons, and now with Brock Purdy helping the Niners reach the NFC Championship Game, Lance’s future in San Francisco is entirely uncertain. Perhaps if the price is right, Minnesota could swing a trade to acquire the young QB.
2023 NFL Draft
Some folks have inquired about the Vikings taking Anthony Richardson with the 23rd pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, but that would require a lot of QB-needy teams passing up on the Florida product and his ridiculous potential.
Despite some doubt that the Vikings will go QB in the first round, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to take another chance on a QB later on in the draft, especially if they swing a couple trades to acquire more picks. Here are a few prospects to consider:
- Max Duggan (TCU)
- Jake Haener (Fresno State)
- Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)
- Tanner McKee (Stanford)
- Clayton Tune (Kansas)
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.