Vikings Bow Out of Sweepstakes for 4,000-Yard Playoff QB: Report

Kevin O'Connell, Vikings

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings.

There is plenty of QB drama still in store for the Minnesota Vikings in the coming days, but the team has scratched one name off the list of potential candidates.

That is according to Dianna Russini of The Athletic, who said on the March 7 edition of The Athletic Football Show that rumors of the Vikings’ interest in Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield are erroneous.

“There were some whispers that perhaps Baker would be the option for Minnesota if they lost Kirk [Cousins],” Russini said. “I was told that is not true. He’s not the type of player they’re looking to go after.”

Several NFL Reporters Have Dubbed Baker Mayfield Top Target of Vikings if Kirk Cousins Leaves

Baker Mayfield

GettyQuarterback Baker Mayfield of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Russini’s report directly contradicts several others authored by prominent national and local writers who cover the Vikings.

“While Cousins is undoubtedly the top option should he leave Minnesota, Mayfield is clearly the No. 2 free agent passer,” Jeremy Fowler of ESPN wrote on March 3. “It wouldn’t be a shock if the Vikings got involved should Cousins leave.”

Zack Rosenblatt, Russini’s colleague at The Athletic, reported on the same day of Russini’s podcast hit that Mayfield will be Minnesota’s main free-agent target if Cousins lands elsewhere.

“If the Vikings lose Cousins, their top target will be Mayfield,” Rosenblatt wrote on March 7. “But if Mayfield doesn’t hit free agency, Minnesota might try to take a flier on a young option with some upside.”

On Friday, March 9, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk confirmed that the Bucs will let Mayfield test the waters in free agency and linked him to the Vikings.

While money is a big factor, as it should be, Mayfield could see another attraction or two in Minnesota. One, Justin Jefferson. Two, Mayfield won’t have to worry about losing his offensive coordinator (again) if things go well in 2024. Head coach Kevin O’Connell runs the offense, and he’s going nowhere if things go well.

We’ll see how it plays out. As of noon ET on Monday, the dominos start to fall. For now, it’s possible that Cousins goes to [the Atlanta Falcons] and that the Vikings backfill with [Mayfield].

Baker Mayfield Pricier Option With Less Upside Than Top Rookie QB Prospects in 2024 NFL Draft

Baker Mayfield

GettyQuarterback Baker Mayfield of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Just because Russini’s reporting runs contradictory to that of several other credible sources doesn’t mean it is incorrect. In fact, it tracks with the strategy of securing young talent on rookie contracts at the game’s most important and expensive position.

The Vikings wouldn’t have to sacrifice any draft capital to secure Mayfield in free agency, while trading up in this April’s NFL draft from No. 11 to either the second or third picks would probably cost at least two first-round assets, if not three.

But a franchise rookie QB would afford the Vikings five seasons of cost control, including an initial four-year contract at the best value possible and then a fifth-year team option. The rub is that Minnesota probably has to hit on that specific pick, or both O’Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah might find themselves in the hot seat within a season or two.

Mayfield, on the other hand, is a pricey proposition in terms of a new deal. The former No. 1 overall pick will play the upcoming campaign at the age of 29, and Spotrac projects his market value at $108.5 million over a four-year contract ($27.1 million annually).

Mayfield is coming off of a career-year in which he threw for 4,044 yards, 28 TDs and 10 INTs, per Pro Football Reference. His performance resulted in his first-ever Pro Bowl selection, while the Bucs won the NFC South Division and knocked off the reigning conference champion Philadelphia Eagles on Super Wildcard Weekend.

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