April 19, 2024

Vikings ownership pushing for long-term QB move?

It certainly is no longer a secret the Vikings are interested in moving up for a quarterback. Linked to such a climb before their pivotal trade with the Texans, that deal made other QB-needy teams well aware the Vikes are serious about replacing Kirk Cousins with a potential first in franchise history.

From Fran Tarkenton to Tommy Kramer to Daunte Culpepper to Christian Ponder, the Vikings have never used a top-10 pick on a quarterback (though, Culpepper and Ponder were each top-12 choices). This year may well bring that elusive investment. Vikings ownership may have a hand in this as well.

Although GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is running point on this operation, the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora notes ownership has “made it clear” a long-term quarterback solution — after the first two years of the Adofo-Mensah era featured short-term Cousins-based fixes — will be sought. The Vikings hold the Nos. 11 and 23 overall picks. While a passer like Michael Penix Jr. or Bo Nix could potentially be available at 23, the Vikings are probably setting their sights higher.

The Vikings sent their 2024 and 2025 second-rounders — the latter of which the Texans just dealt to the Bills for Stefon Diggs — and a 2024 sixth to move up to No. 23. The expectation around the league is for Minnesota to trade up for a quarterback. Many around the NFL have mentionedJ.J. McCarthy as Minnesota’s most likely target. With the Michigan alum in play to go No. 2 overall to the Commanders — after an impressive pro day — the Vikings may need to set their sights on another passer. Considering the prospect statuses of Drake Maye and Jayden Danielscompared to McCarthy entering 2024, it would be strange if the Vikes had a chance at one of them while the once-lower-regarded QB was unavailable.

Daniels has since come up as a Vikings target, with the Raiders’ interest in reuniting the 2023 Heisman winner with one of his ex-college coaches (Antonio Pierce) not a secret. It could require the Vikings to part with two first-round picks and change to move from No. 11 into the top four. But the Patriots, Cardinals and Chargers — particularly the latter two clubs — have been connected to a willingness to trade down. It cost the 49ers two future firsts to climb from No. 12 to No. 3 for Trey Lance. New England, Arizona and Los Angeles will likely seek a similar haul. The Vikings having a second first-round pick this year might change the equation slightly, but it will still be quite costly to climb up that far.

Sam Darnold is in place as a stopgap option, and while the former top-three pick has an interesting opportunity ahead due to the skill-position cadre the Vikings possess, owner Zygi Wilf desiring a long-term QB be desired this year would solidify Darnold’s role as a placeholder. Additionally, La Canfora suggests Adofo-Mensah may be feeling some heat going into his third season.

Minnesota’s GM being on the hot seat already would be quite the development, considering the team’s 13-4 season in 2022. While that season did bring the worst point differential in NFL history for a 13-win team, the Vikings were not expected to finish in that realm that year. Minnesota took a step back last season, with Cousins’ injury derailing a nice midseason stretch. But the team did not implode without its starting passer. Adofo-Mensah ultimately opting to move on from a QB Kevin O’Connellendorsed many times over, bringing a $28.5M dead money bill due to a 2023 void years decision, could confirm rumblings of friction between the team’s top two decision-makers.

For now, the two power brokers are working together to land a Cousins replacement. Armed with Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, Aaron Jones and T.J. Hockenson (along with young left tackle Christian Darrisaw), Minnesota represents a solid destination for a young passer. It will be interesting to see which one the Vikes end up with, as it seems highly improbable they will leave the first round without their hopeful long-term option.