The Minnesota Vikings have only drafted two quarterbacks since hiring Mike Zimmer in 2014: Teddy Bridgewater and Nate Stanley. Bridgewater was taken in the first round, Stanley in the seventh — a miniscule amount of draft capital spent on the most important position in football.
The Vikings have gotten almost all of their Zimmer-era quarterbacks from other teams’ systems, namely Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, and Kirk Cousins. Only Cousins has stuck, and he’s the team’s most polarizing player.
It can be hard to justify using precious draft capital or trading away assets for someone to just sit behind Cousins. He’s been an iron man since his arrival, and the Vikings have so many other holes to fill. But there are many reasons a team needs to invest in the quarterback position.
The New England Patriots flipped both Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo into assets. The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles when Carson Wentz went down on a borderline MVP season. Do you think the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks knew they drafted their quarterbacks of the future in the fourth and third rounds?
By no means is drafting a quarterback a waste of capital when the league is as quarterback-needy as it is right now.
The NFL is experiencing a QB carousel right now. This offseason could potentially see more quarterback moves than ever before, with crazy trades involving high-end passers. Detroit Lions fans have already seen the greatest quarterback in their franchise history get traded for Jared Goff,, a third-rounder, and two firsts.
Deshaun Watson could be moved in the coming weeks. A young quarterback forcing his way out of a franchise was previously unheard of. What is this, the NBA?
“My Over/Under of teams changing QBs this off-season is 18. I’ll go with the over,” Adam Schefter tweeted on Jan. 25. Three of his predictions have already come true.
The Vikings need to take part in this quarterback frenzy — and not to replace Cousins.
The last exciting developmental quarterback the Vikings had was Taylor Heinicke, who made headlines in the NFC wild card game this year. That excitement was extinguished quickly after he reportedly kicked in a door and got cut from the team due to injury, but the few preseason games Heinicke played were electric.
Now look at him. He competed on a playoff team against the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That may come off as sarcastic, and it kind of is, but the guy balled out and earned a real contract as a backup. Had the Vikings held on to Heinicke, they may have been able to get something for him. Same thing with Kyle Sloter, who just sat on the Vikings’ practice squad too long.
Why won’t they take flyers on more late-round project quarterbacks? Especially since Cousins may not be the guy in Minnesota for too much longer, barring another contract extension.
Yes, the Vikings have Sean Mannion. But I can’t remember one “Mannion moment,” let alone think he has the potential to be a quarterback of the future.
I don’t think the Vikings want to go through another Sam Bradford emergency trade ever again. That’s another simple reason even the backup quarterback is an important position.
That being said, I’m not falling for the rumors of Bridgewater returning home for anything more than a backup job. Or a blockbuster trade sending Watson to the Vikings, for that matter. They are more likely to select someone on Day 2 or 3 of the 2021 draft or find someone in free agency.
The best move would be for the Vikings to sign a bona fide backup who could become a starter like Brissett or Kyle Allen to make sure they at least have a bridge quarterback when they finally decide to draft a quarterback of the future a la Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. This is easier said than done, but has proven to work under the right circumstances.