But after crashing back down to earth, turning the ball over six times in two straight losses before the Vikings’ Week 13 bye, Dobbs’ decline has led Minnesota back to warming up to exploring other options, including re-signing Kirk Cousins.
ESPN insiders Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano discussed the Vikings’ quarterback situation after Kevin O’Connell said he is considering benching Dobbs after he threw four interceptions in a 12-10 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday, November 27.
“That’s absolutely on the table. Cousins likes it in Minnesota, and the Vikings won’t have a high enough draft pick to take one of the truly elite prospects,” Graziano answered, considering Minnesota has shown the intention to compete even after playing much of the season without Cousins or Justin Jefferson, who will return in Week 14.
“Plus, coach Kevin O’Connell’s first two seasons in Minnesota indicate the Vikings can and do expect to contend, rather than rebuild. I was wrong on them. I thought this season would be about figuring out who was and wasn’t part of the future, but they have managed to weather the losses of Cousins and Justin Jefferson to injury and stay in the race. Kudos to them,” Graziano added.
A developing defense under Brian Flores and a competent offensive front has filled in some of the deficiencies that Cousins had to carry the Vikings through for the past three seasons.
Graziano isn’t ready to rule out the Vikings re-signing Cousins considering their roster appears closer to contention than previously thought at the beginning of the 2023 season.
“They have a large menu of QB options next offseason, and it’s certainly possible they pivot away from Cousins to a different one,” Graziano said. “But he and the team do like each other a lot, and I wouldn’t rule out a return. You just know he isn’t going to come cheap!”
Kirk Cousins Could Take Team-Friendly Deal With Vikings
Throughout the new Vikings regime’s two seasons in Minnesota, they’ve drawn a hard line of how much they’re willing to spend for veteran talent.
The Vikings also proved to be shrewd negotiators, declining to extend Danielle Hunter and Cousins. They’re two of the most expensive players on the team’s payroll who received restructured deals instead of long-term investment as the new regime continues to navigate its “competitive rebuild.”
Hunter is having a career year, leading the NFL with 13.5 sacks in 12 games this season, while Cousins was playing at an MVP caliber had his team’s record reflected his success through the first six weeks.
Cousins’ season-ending Achilles injury on October 29 complicates his free agency, which he said he intends to reach after the Vikings and his camp couldn’t agree on an extension in the offseason.
It’s unlikely Cousins will pass a physical with flying colors by the time free agency opens in March — and that could make potential suitors elsewhere in the NFL skeptical to pay him a lucrative contract.
After the Dobbs trade, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah maintained that his offer remains on the table for Cousins to return — but it’s a matter of whether Cousins will accept the terms, likely a cheaper, short-term deal that offers the Vikings flexibility for the future.
Vikings Could Keep Cousins and Draft 1st-Round Rookie QB
The terms of Cousins accepting a short-term contract likely include his acceptance that the team will draft a first-round quarterback who can develop behind him for at least a year.
Cousins’ high floor has always kept his teams from landing a top-five draft pick, which has led to virtually no competition in the quarterback room.
It would be a change for Cousins, but his embrace of a younger quarterback to help develop while also helping the team compete in 2024 would be fitting for the “competitive rebuild.”
According to KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, Minnesota has already put in plenty of early leg work on scouting middle first-round quarterback prospects like J.J. McCarthy and Jayden Daniels — a sign that the Vikings are open to taking the middle road that leaves the possibility of Cousins re-signing on the table.