Playing Matchmaker for the Vikings’ 2023 Quarterback

Vikings fans are exhausted. It has been a long, albeit fun, season that got cut short with a painful playoff exit. While there are many different problems the Vikings should focus on in the offseason, the quarterback position may need a new direction soon. Of course the defense and the guard position present more glaring issues, however, the quarterback position is the most important in football and must always be evaluated, unless you are lucky enough to have Mahomes or Burrow leading your team. Good quarterbacks can mask issues on offense and make the job easier for the defense. The Vikings might just need an upgrade at quarterback to refresh their Super Bowl chances.

Note: Quarterbacks are in order from most to least likely
Kirk Cousins
Vikings fans are almost definitely going to see Kirk Cousins take the field in September for his sixth season with the team. One of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s first moves as general manager with the Vikings was to extend Kirk Cousins through 2023 for a fully guaranteed $35 million. That move saved the team $14 million in cap space, allowing a fruitful 13-4 2022 season. Whether or not Kirk Cousins is the best option at quarterback for the Vikings will not matter for the 2023 season, money is the biggest factor now. The Vikings are in a sticky situation with cap space and cannot afford to get rid of Kirk Cousins unless they could find a team willing to pay his contract. By default, Kirk Cousins will be your 2024 Vikings quarterback.

But, is he the right choice? With the ultimate goal being a Super Bowl and the “championship mentality” that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell talked about earlier this week, the answer should be no. Kirk Cousins is a serviceable quarterback that can record top-10 statistics, however, he has not proven the ability to succeed in the postseason, despite plenty of opportunities. He just is not good enough to overcome holes in a team’s roster, and there will always be holes in a team’s roster. With Kirk Cousins at the helm, no matter the offense surrounding him and the defense supporting him, the Vikings will never win a Super Bowl.

Trey Lance
The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this week that the 49ers would not be asking for more than a third-round pick in a trade for their backup quarterback heading into his third year in the NFL. Lance is on his rookie contract still and it would be a manageable salary for the Vikings to take on this season. Though Lance is coming off an injury, he might be worth giving a shot to lead the offense in 2023. The Minnesota native has shown promise in his limited playing time as a mobile quarterback with a strong arm. If the Vikings could trade for Lance with a third or fourth-round pick, he could sit behind Cousins and eventually take the reigns somewhere down the line. Trey Lance would add an element to the offense with his ability to scramble, which Kirk Cousins sorely lacks. Lance’s scrambling ability helps him extend plays, allowing receivers more time to get open. His legs would open up the playbook for O’Connell with another threat in the run game. He would also take some pressure off the offensive line with his scrambling. Fans certainly should be concerned about his injury history, his accuracy issues, and his lack of experience in the NFL. However, at 22 years old, he still has a ton of potential that Kevin O’Connell could tap into, especially if he learns behind Cousins for a year. Overall, Trey Lance might be the Vikings’ best feasible option for a new face at the quarterback position in 2023.

A Rookie
The Vikings own the 23rd and 87th picks in the 2023 NFL Draft as well as picks in the fourth and fifth rounds. Unlike some teams looking to draft a quarterback in the draft this year, the Vikings are perfectly positioned to support a rookie quarterback. With plenty of firepower on offense, a rookie quarterback would be set up for success. I do not think the Vikings should take a huge swing by trading up or taking a quarterback in the first round, however, if they waited until the third or fourth round talents like Hendon Hooker and Max Duggan may still be available. Both quarterbacks had breakout years at their schools and were Heisman candidates. It may be worth a third or fourth-round flyer on a quarterback. Again, the rookie would likely learn behind Cousins for a year or so to take the reigns in 2024.

Lamar Jackson
The Baltimore Ravens are determined to get a deal done with their star quarterback, however, the process has been extremely rocky and it seems as though a long-term deal might not get done. If Lamar Jackson does decide to explore his options, the Vikings would not come close to being able to afford him. Therefore, his scenario is extremely unrealistic, however, it would be fun to see Lamar Jackson in a different shade of purple. He would open the offense wide up, Jackson would finally have a true number-one wide receiver in Jefferson and the running game in Minnesota would be nearly unstoppable. The biggest gripe with Jackson is his injury history, which should not be overlooked, however, he is too big of a talent to be ignored. At 26 years old Lamar Jackson would offer stability and star power at the most important position in football for the Vikings.

The most realistic way for Lamar Jackson to find himself in Minnesota would be if the Ravens signed him to a franchise tag in 2023 and the Vikings offered him a massive contract in 2024 after Kirk Cousins plays out his 2023 extension. Kirk Cousins came to the Vikings in a very similar manner.

Tom Brady
This one is the most unrealistic by far. Brady opted for Tampa Bay last time he was a free agent because of the warm weather. It is hard to believe that he would trade in the beach for the cold, not to mention that the Vikings would not be able to afford him. However, Minnesota does offer a team with plenty of weapons and a team in “win-now” mode. Brady has what Kirk Cousins lacks: the ability to win in the postseason. The intangibles that Brady brings to the table, even at 45, are unparalleled and would elevate the team in every aspect. Watching Tom Brady lead the 2023 Minnesota Vikings on the chase for a Lombardi trophy would be nothing short of special.

Vikings fans are ready for a change at the quarterback position. Kirk Cousins has been a great option for the team for the past five years, however, it feels like the marriage has to end soon. Without much playoff success, it is tough to keep defending Cousins. From a financial perspective, he will likely quarterback the team once again in 2023. The Vikings do have some intriguing options with Trey Lance and the draft. Possible free agents like Lamar Jackson, Tom Brady, and Daniel Jones are far-fetched with the team’s current cap situation but fun to explore nonetheless. Kirk Cousins’ time in Minnesota has an expiration date that seems to be rapidly approaching, it will be intriguing to see how the Vikings address the position this offseason.
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