Vikings Prepared for Blockbuster Trade to Replace Cousins, Insider Reveals

Dalvin Cook, Vikings

Getty Quarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings.

Minnesota Vikings fans still feeling snakebitten by the idea of a rookie quarterback after the Christian Ponder experiment should fret no more: The Vikings intend to trade up in the 2024 draft and secure a blue-chip quarterback prospect if they truly plan to move on from Kirk Cousins.

Star Tribune reporter Ben Goessling revealed that the new Vikings regime under Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is inclined to take a swing at a top quarterback prospect by trading up instead of settling for whichever prospect falls to them at No. 11.

“If they’re going to take one, it’s going to be someone [they] love or [they’re] not doing it,” Goessling told KFAN’s Paul Allen on January 23. “If you have to give up a couple first-round picks for future years, I don’t think they’d bat an eye at that.”

Vikings Have Never Drafted a QB Inside the Top 10

Daunte Culpepper (11), Christian Ponder (7) and Teddy Bridgewater (5)

GettyDaunte Culpepper (11), Christian Ponder (7) and Teddy Bridgewater (5) are the only quarterbacks the Vikings have selected in the first round since 1977.

The NFL has shown that not all first-round quarterback prospects are equal. There is a first tier worthy of a top-five pick, followed by a slide later in the first round.

The Vikings’ history of drafting quarterbacks in the first round hasn’t proved to bring the team a true franchise player who sticks around for a decade.

Ponder, the fourth quarterback taken in the 2011 draft, at No. 12 overall, did not receive a second contract in Minnesota. Teddy Bridgewater, selected 32nd overall in 2014, had his development foiled by a devastating leg injury that led to his release. Daunte Culpepper, drafted No. 11 overall in 1999, is the only other quarterback taken in the first round since 1977.

Cousins was signed in 2018 as the final piece to a playoff-ready roster. But after years of atrophy, Minnesota needs reinforcements at numerous spots, and a quarterback on a rookie-scale deal would provide cap relief needed to make valuable veteran free agent signings.

“They have certainly looked at this as ‘we need to get the guy that we can plant our flag with for the next 10 years and if it costs a lot to do that, so be it,’ ” Goessling added. “I don’t think they’re going to limp in on this, so to speak, and be like, ‘Well, if it’s QB5 and we’re kind of OK with him let’s take him anyway.’ ”

If the Vikings front office convinces itself the team is close to competing, the likely outcome would be extending Cousins. However, even after a 13-win season in 2022, the Vikings considered finding their future quarterback.

“They looked at it last year. They probably didn’t have quite enough capital to get up to three or four [to get Anthony Richardson]. Richardson, Stroud, Young, they liked all three of them,” Goessling said.

Vikings Have Already Opened the Door for Cousins’ Departure

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota Vikings

GettyGeneral manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

Cousins’ six seasons in Minnesota have been marked with stability at quarterback and a 50-37-1 regular season record.

But as the final piece of a roster ready to win, all the Vikings could muster was a wild-card win over the New Orleans Saints in 2020. Since then, Cousins’ extensions have been merely a grasp at keeping the competitive window open while the roster has atrophied due to poor drafting and a lack of cap space.

The Vikings have only nine players in their prime, at 27 years old or younger, to build around as regular contributors. The 2022 draft class has not contributed as expected, and the lack of depth was evident late in the season.

While giving up on Cousins — a path the Vikings opened by declining to extend him to a discounted deal last offseason — may feel like a step backward, Adofo-Mensah said in his end-of-year news conference that taking a step back doesn’t matter when the ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl.

“Taking a step back in the short term isn’t a big deal if you don’t think you’re actually close,” Adofo-Mensah said, per The Athletic.

Moving off Cousins would allow the Vikings to get from under a veteran quarterback contract and reload the roster with prized free agents with the added financial flexibility — something Adofo-Mensah has advocated for on the Vikings’ behalf during past negotiations with Cousins.

Whether the Vikings follow through with a blockbuster deal will likely be determined as soon as March when free agency opens and Cousins is free to sign with another team.