Vikings Preparing to Draft Top QB Prospect to Succeed Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins, Vikings

Getty Quarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings after losing to the New York Giants in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 15, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings are doing their homework on the upcoming draft class’s quarterbacks with the possibility of needing to replace Kirk Cousins by next season.

KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported on March 2 that the Vikings formally met with Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, who has impressed in interviews at the combine.

“The buzz on Richardson… he has interviewed well. I hear he has been impressive,” Wolfson said, adding that Kevin O’Connell is a “big fan” of Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, a projected top-10 pick.

Minnesota has also met with UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, per Cowboys Report’s Tom Downey.

The recent interviews come in the wake of a report by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that Cousins is not interested in a short-term extension despite approaching the cliff of productive quarterback play at the age of 35.

Meanwhile, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah revealed a rift in contract talks, saying Cousins would like a guaranteed deal, while the Vikings would prefer more flexibility.

“From Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell’s perspective, it’s hard to see them tying to themselves to a 35-year-old quarterback long term and resting their jobs on whether he continues to play at a high level into the danger zone of the quarterback age curve,” Purple Insider’s Matthew Coller wrote.

Wolfson added that Cousins was seen at a local fundraising event, and when questions rose about his future beyond the 2023 season, the final year of his contract, he was “unsettled.”

“Kirk came across as very unsettled. There was a lot of uncertainty in a lot of his responses. Knowing changes are coming — maybe not with him but this roster is going to look different in the next few weeks — but also some uncertainty of his future,” Wolfson said. “That points to maybe an extension isn’t coming. Maybe the Vikings are going to let this thing play out and he enters unrestricted free agency a year from now.”

Vikings’ Plan for Next QB Must Begin Now If Kirk Cousins is Not Extended

If Cousins does not agree to a short-term extension or a deal that could allow Minnesota more control in moving on by release or trade, the development plan for his successor must begin this season.

O’Connell revealed the importance of developing a young quarterback, which would likely involve a redshirt year ideally.

“A lot of guys come here and say they want to start in the NFL day one,” O’Connell said in a media conference at the combine. “They want to start every game, lead their team to the playoffs, win a Super Bowl. A lot goes into what it takes to do that and the type of environment that you can put around that young player is huge, especially early and what is it going to look like moving forward for that player is very important.”

 Vikings GM Doesn’t Want Any Tension With Kirk Cousins

The succession plan after Cousins is not only the biggest question facing the new regime that saw their predecessors lose their jobs after falling short with Cousins at quarterback.

While the Vikings are currently apart on what they want and what Cousins is looking for in his next contract, Adofo-Mensah has not welcomed any possible tension to surface with the veteran quarterback.

“When you talk about alignment between the head coach and GM, it’s that third part, I treat [the quarterback] on my level,” Adofo-Mensah said in a side session with reporters at the combine, per Purple Insider’s Matthew Coller. “I don’t care if that makes me sound whatever, but [the quarterback] has as much importance to this organization and maybe more than I do, so we all have to be on the same page and make sure that relationship works.”

However, he’s also put some thought into the possibility of not reaching an agreement and allowing Cousins’ contract to run its course.

“If the solutions don’t work out for either side, that is what it is, but we love what we’ve done so far with him and we obviously want to continue it,” Adofo-Mensah added.