The Minnesota Vikings’ season is far from over with two regular season games left to play, but a Wild Card playoff berth is becoming a more dubious proposition with each slip up.
Unfortunately, the team no longer holds its destiny in its own hands and should the last two weeks of the season fail to break in the Vikings’ favor, major changes could be on the immediate horizon.
At the top of the list of potential turnover are changes in the front office, a new head coach to replace Mike Zimmer and/or a decision to move on from the pricey, and sometimes precarious, signal-caller Kirk Cousins.
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Cousins has been linked to several different franchises, including the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos, as NFL insiders and analysts have projected coming trade proposals that would make sense for all teams involved.
Most recently, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell examined a pair of moves Minnesota could make should they fall short of the playoffs this season — sending Cousins to the Philadelphia Eagles in return for a first-round draft pick in 2022 and bringing back former quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from the Broncos on a one-year deal to serve as a bridge to the team’s future under center.
Vikings Make Moves for the Future as Part of Barnwell Proposal
In his prospective scenario, Barnwell adds the caveat that the proposed moves only make sense should the Vikings fall short of the postseason again this year and decide it’s time to make a firm move toward rebuilding the offense around a new signal-caller.
By trading Cousins, the Vikings would free up $35 million in much-needed cap space. The Eagles have been spry with Jalen Hurts this season, and without any logical quarterback to go after with all three of their first-round picks in a draft that isn’t expected to have superstar QBs — they could opt to try to surround a very good passer with a talented roster. That formula might not seem terribly enticing, but remember that Philly is only a few years removed from winning a Super Bowl with Nick Foles at quarterback.
Under Barnwell’s scenario, Cousins would ink a three-year extension with the Eagles worth $105 million, sending back to the Vikings “the worst of its three first-round picks in 2022.” Minnesota, in turn, would send a 2022 third-round selection to Philadelphia, along with Cousins.
That would leave Minnesota with Kellen Mond as its top in-house quarterback, which Barnwell noted would open up the opportunity for a reunion with a former Vikings starter from the relatively recent past.
Bridgewater Comes Home, Cousins Leaves Town
Bridgewater, currently the starting QB for the Broncos when healthy, was drafted by the Vikings in 2014 out of the University of Louisville. Bridgewater spent four seasons in Minnesota, earning a spot in the Pro Bowl following his second year with the team.
However, a dislocated knee and a torn ACL suffered during practice ahead of the 2016 season knocked Bridgewater out for the next two campaigns.
“The Vikings traded for Sam Bradford and then installed Case Keenum as the starter before Bridgewater left as a free agent. Now, with Minnesota in need of a veteran, a return to town for the 29-year-old would make sense,” wrote Barnwell, adding that the QB would come back to the team on a one-year, $8 million contract.”
“Mond would still get a shot at winning the starting job, but Bridgewater would be a competent option to begin the season for new coach Kellen Moore,” Barnwell continued.
Barnwell’s educated speculation is, of course, contingent on a failed Vikings season, the possible firing of Zimmer and a decision to move on from Cousins regardless of who holds the head coaching position.
Minnesota plays the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 17 before finishing the year at home against the Chicago Bears on January 9. They likely need to win both games, and get help from several other teams, in order to play beyond Week 18.