The Minnesota Vikings built a house, but they have not insured it. They went out and got Dalvin Tomlinson, Michael Pierce, and Patrick Peterson in free agency the last two years. They drafted Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis. They have a $150 million quarterback and a $63 million running back.
And they have one backup quarterback who doesn’t throw the ball accurately and two who have yet to take a snap in the NFL.
This isn’t a knock on Kellen Mond. I loved the pick. Best-case scenario, he’s the heir apparent to Kirk Cousins, maximizing Justin Jefferson’s potential and freeing up salary cap space so Rick Spielman doesn’t have to make his fifth-round tight end stay on the field on fourth down to punt to save a buck.
Minnesota enters next season with a roster that can compete — née, must compete for Spielman and Mike Zimmer to hang around after this season. They’re not the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Seattle Seahawks, but damn it, they’re expensive. And they don’t need to be the Watusi or Spartans to make a playoff run this year. Every team is going to be cap-strapped this season, and Aaron Rodgers may never leave Maui. As long as they get into the playoffs, say it with me, defense wins championships. They’re underdogs in the NFC, but viable ones at that.
So they can’t let a Cousins injury doom this season.
Listen, I get it. In 2016 our beloved Teddy Bridgewater suffered a life-threatening non-contact knee injury in practice, and Trader Rick tossed a first- and a conditional fourth-round pick at the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire Sam Bradford. Great. That’s not a dependable strategy. Not only do we know what happened to Bradford — who, to be fair, was great when healthy and behind an impervious offensive line — but forcing Spielman to deal away draft picks is picking his pocket.
Every selection in the draft supposedly holds equal value in the eyes of the league. But if draft picks are currency, Trader Rick dominates the exchange rate. Where they may have been yen in Bill O’Brien’s hands, those fun coupons are the Euro in Spielman’s wallet. He turns his NFL take-a-number tabs into Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and Danielle Hunter.
Forcing Spielman to burn draft picks to acquire a veteran quarterback should Cousins go down is blowing money out the window.
I know Cousins wears a life vest underneath his jersey in case Akiem Hicks or Khalil Mack throws him out of the langskip. But Minnesota needs a contingency plan, someone who can step in and keep the wheels on this crumpled van moving.
Roster spots are at a premium, and I get why the Vikings don’t want to use one on a backup quarterback who collects millions of dollars a year to chart Cousins’ throws. Hell, they don’t seem to want to use more than one roster spot on special teams — bless you, Kaare Vedvik and Zach Davidson. But rolling into the season with Mond as the backup is a recipe for disaster.
He may be the quarterback of the future, but he’s not ready to step in now. In case you missed it, the Green Bay Packers traded up for former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love last year. Everybody in Packerland was happy with the move, but he was never put on the active roster last year because he’s a project, so Tim Boyle was designated as Rodgers’ backup last year. And this season, with their QB1 posting on the ‘Gram from Hawai’i while the rest of his teammates boil in the Wisconsin sun, the Pack opted to turn to the trusty Blake Bortles as veteran support.
Mond shouldn’t take a snap this year; it’s a developmental season for him. And while Cousins has been Teflon when it comes to the injury report, even the minuscule risk of him getting hurt isn’t worth an unnecessary gamble with so much at stake this season. Spielman and the front office have built a brownstone with a gabled roof and dual staircases in the entrance. Now they have to bundle their home and auto to save themselves in case of emergency.