First-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed Cousins to a one-year contract extension to lighten his cap hit for the upcoming season and give Kevin O’Connell a two-year trial with Cousins — running on the optimism that O’Connell can solve many of the team’s shortcomings with the same roster in place.
But when Cousins is finished with his contract at the age of 34, the new regime, halfway through their four-year contracts with the Vikings, will have to revisit which direction to go at quarterback in 2023.
And there may be a wide-open window of opportunity then that Minnesota could capitalize on by making a trade for the 2019 season’s MVP, Lamar Jackson.
CBS Sports’ Zach Gelb spoke about the growing possibility of Jackson leaving the Baltimore Ravens in the future, which could catapult the Vikings and Jackson into the upper echelon of the NFC.
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Jackson Would Make Vikings a ‘Madden’ Offense
During an August 10 segment on CBS Sports Radio, Zach Gelb pitched a dream scenario that would send the Ravens’ electric quarterback to Minnesota.
But why would Jackson leave Baltimore?
Jackson, playing on a fifth-year option on his rookie deal, has been entrenched in contract negotiations with the franchise for the past two seasons and has yet to strike a deal. The Ravens also haven’t poured investment into the offense and even traded away Jackson’s most explosive weapon in Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Arizona Cardinals.
Jackson would have the strongest supporting cast of his career with Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook currently under contract through the 2024 season and Justin Jefferson, who is expected to strike a lucrative second contract next spring.
“Imagine the creativity if the Ravens can’t get a deal done with Lamar Jackson, and Lamar Jackson doesn’t want to get a deal done with the Baltimore Ravens,” Gelb said. “And you get to just simply see Lamar with Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook. That is a high-octane offense if I’ve ever seen one. That is an offense that you would love to play Madden football in. That would be a whole lot of fun.”
Beyond the Madden fantasy, there’s a serious opportunity ahead for the Vikings to corner the NFC by acquiring an up-and-coming quarterback while the rest of the conference’s elite stars are aging out.
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NFC’s Best QBs are Aging Out
There’s a generational divide between the NFC and AFC quarterbacks, with the NFC boasting the league’s best passers of the past decade and the AFC holding many of the league’s future franchise stars.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, 26, struck a new deal with offseason that puts him under team control until 2028. Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, 24, is looking like a franchise quarterback the Chargers will want to lock down long-term as well — and don’t forget Joe Burrow, 25, Deshaun Watson, 26, and Russell Wilson, 33.
Meanwhile, in the NFC, Tom Brady, 45, has already flirted with retirement, Aaron Rodgers, 39, is in the twilight of his career and likely only has two more seasons before the Green Bay Packers reassess their current contract with the back-to-back league MVP. Matthew Stafford, 34, and the Los Angeles Rams have a couple of years left in their Super Bowl window, while new era youngsters Dak Prescott, 29, and Kyler Murray, 25, remain questionable threats in the league.
If the Ravens and Jackson cannot come to terms on an extension by next March, Baltimore may franchise tag Jackson in the coming seasons, a similar situation Cousins fell into with a Washington team that couldn’t decide whether to make him their future franchise quarterback before he departed for Minnesota.
“I would look at the Vikings, I know they’re bringing back Kirk Cousins for another year, but eventually Kirk Cousins will be out of Minnesota. I hope if it can’t work in Baltimore, I really would like to see Lamar Jackson go be the face of the NFC with the Minnesota Vikings,” Gelb added.