Vikings Logical Landing Spot for 9-Time Pro Bowl QB

Russell Wilson, Broncos

Getty Quarterback Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos.

Free agency will bring a handful of serviceable quarterbacks to the market this spring, and the Minnesota Vikings may find themselves in the mix for one of them.

If Minnesota parts with six-year starter Kirk Cousins, their decision on a quarterback will be multi-faceted. The Vikings must measure precisely the age, price and history of each candidate. Also a concern will be each player’s fit with Kevin O’Connell’s offensive scheme.

Ryan Fowler of Bleacher Report on Thursday, January 18, suggested that Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is among the best fits in Minnesota of those players likely to be available this offseason.

At this point in his career, teams shouldn’t ask Wilson to sit back and dissect a defense 35 times per game. However, when you have perimeter targets to pump with passes at a variety of depths, the best of Wilson is put on display.

Similar to his time in Seattle with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, landing in Minnesota to target the superstar talent around him (and playing in a dome 8-9 times per year) could help Wilson’s confidence reemerge. 

Russell Wilson Had Bounce Back Year with Broncos in 2023

Russell Wilson

GettyDenver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.

Critics have at least somewhat exaggerated the extent of Wilson’s demise since he departed Seattle following the 2021 campaign — the last of his nine Pro-Bowl seasons.

Wilson’s first season in Denver under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett resulted in a huge drop off from his previous form. The QB finished the year with a career-low 60.5% completion rate, 3,524 yards and 16 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions, per Pro Football Reference.

He finished the season with a 4-11 record as a starter and a league-leading 55 sacks, a statistic indicative of his diminished ability to escape the pocket and create spontaneously with his legs. While that innate ability, which was aided by Wilson’s elite athleticism, may now be diminished for the remainder of his career, he showed clearly in 2023 that he can still perform as an NFL starter.

The arrival of Sean Payton as head coach helped Wilson turn things around last season. He finished the campaign with 3,070 yards, 26 TDs and 8 INTs across 15 games played. Wilson completed 66.4% of his passes and finished the year 7-8 as the Broncos starting QB before Payton benched him in favor of Jarrett Stidham.

Broncos Intend to Cut Russell Wilson, Make Him Free Agent in 2024

Russell Wilson

GettyDenver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.

Wilson will enter just the third season of a five-year, $243 million contract in 2024, which is far beyond what the Vikings will be willing to trade for/can afford.

However, ESPN’s Dianna Russini has reported on December 27 that the QB expects Denver will cut him ahead of the official opening of the free-agency period on March 13. The Broncos will have to pay an enormous penalty to do so. However, if they go through with it, Wilson will become a free agent with a significantly reduced perception of value around the league.

That collective perception should make him affordable, at which point the Vikings could get into the game for his services — assuming Cousins doesn’t end up returning to Minnesota.

NFL Analysts Advise Vikings to Bring Kirk Cousins Back

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

GettyQuarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings.

Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus on January 17 listed one free agent every team should pursue this spring. His suggestion for the Vikings was Cousins, who has started for Minnesota each of the last six seasons.

Maybe the Vikings will decide it’s time to rebuild, but they only just missed out on the playoffs in 2023 — and that was with Kirk Cousins missing the second half of the season. He has earned a 79.0-plus PFF grade in every season in Minnesota, and while he is unlikely to break into the elite ranks in 2024, he is good enough to get the Vikings back to the playoffs, perhaps even winning the NFC North again.

Getting into the postseason with Cousins and hoping for some luck to fall their way feels like the Vikings’ best option, considering who else is available at the position and where they pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Minnesota holds the No. 11 selection in the first round and will likely need to trade a king’s ransom to get into the top-3 or top-4 and give itself any chance of drafting one of the top QB prospects. A more likely move would be for the Vikings to trade back, draft the fifth or sixth quarterback off the board and let him develop under a free-agent signing for a year or two.

Cousins probably does make the most sense. However, if Minnesota feels otherwise and/or Cousins pursues a job elsewhere, Wilson could also prove a viable option.

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