The Minnesota Vikings cut Jake Browning on Aug. 31 under the intention of signing the third-year quarterback to their practice squad.
Browning found himself floating in free agency over the past week for the first time since going undrafted in 2019. After two seasons in the Vikings organization, Browning was called on for his knowledge of the team’s offense.
The Cincinnati Bengals signed Browning to their practice squad Tuesday, five days before they host the Vikings. Browning will likely be leaned on to help the Bengals’ scout team’s offense in preparation for Sunday’s season opener.
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Browning’s Fall From Grace
Browning started the offseason in high standing with the Vikings.
He was in competition for the backup job behind Cousins. Browning seemed to have a strong grasp on the job after shining in a nationally televised practice where he was the only quarterback available due to COVID-19 protocols.
However, Browning fell out of favor with the team after struggling in the preseason. He completed 13 of 33 pass attempts for 154 yards, no touchdowns and gave up a pick-six against the Indianapolis Colts.
Third-round rookie Kellen Mond showed an opposite trajectory in the preseason and proved his worth in the final preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Mond completed 16 of 23 (69.6%) passes for 196 yards and led the Vikings to their only two offensive touchdowns of the preseason. He also rushed for 40 yards himself.
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Mannion Takes No. 2 QB Role Over Browning & Mond
This season’s fear surrounding Cousins has been less and less about his play and more about his availability. If Cousins landed in COVID-19 protocols again or suffered an injury, the Vikings were not confident in Browning or Mond to be more than an in-game, emergency replacement.
Mannion was signed to the team’s practice squad to ease those worries. Practice-squad players can be activated twice during the regular season. The Vikings have already shown their cards, protecting Mannion and running back Ameer Abdullah from being signed off the practice squad this week.
Mannion completed 33 of 49 pass attempts (67%) for 228 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions with the Seahawks in the preseason and is a proven veteran quarterback with seven years in the league.
Mannion’s placement on the practice squad allows Mond to remain on the active roster and see extra reps, which will be valuable early in the season as he continues his acclimation to the NFL.
Mond has welcomed Mannion and is accepting of battling for the backup quarterback spot.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Mond said, per the Pioneer Press. “For somebody like Sean, who already knows the playbook, although he probably needs just a refresher, I think we have three guys who know the playbook who can play. There’s two veterans, and probably three guys who all think differently, who can all come together and really just help Kirk and help the offense any way possible.”