The Philadelphia Eagles came into the offseason with major questions at the quarterback position. With Jalen Hurts ability as an NFL starter in question, the Eagles looked to find a solid contingency plan behind him. Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens were brought in but their preseason performance did nothing to win the backup quarterback job.
The Eagles could have gone into the season blindly hoping that Hurts would be sufficient but instead, they swung a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars to acquire Gardner Minshew for a conditional sixth-round pick.
Sound familiar? Stuck in the same situation, the Vikings have yet to make a decision on their backup quarterback, making them massive losers in this trade.
The Vikings have a leg up at the quarterback position thanks to the presence of Kirk Cousins. While he has his detractors, Cousins has been a top-10 quarterback statistically since coming to Minnesota. But this isn’t about Cousins and his play on the field, it’s who’s playing behind him.
Jake Browning came into training camp as the backup quarterback but has done everything he can to lose that job. In three preseason games, Browning completed 13-of-33 passes for 154 yards and an interception. While Browning didn’t have the chance to play with Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson or any of the starting offensive line, a 41.7 quarterback rating is unacceptable no matter who is playing around him.
The same goes for Kellen Mond. Mond missed plenty of practice time after testing positive for COVID-19 and it showed with an uneven preseason performance. While there were some redeeming throws, too many sailed over the head or well short of his intended receivers. His preseason wasn’t a death sentence for his career but he’s not ready to play in a NFL game.
With Cousins’ normal risk of injury combined with his unwillingness to get vaccinated, the Vikings are dipping their hand in honey in front of a rabid wolverine when it comes to the quarterback position. That’s why it made sense to go after Minshew.
Minshew will never make his way to Canton but he also won’t look like a deer in headlights if he has to start. In 23 games, Minshew has thrown for 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions (20 starts).
With an $850,000 cap hit, Minshew would have tucked easily below the Vikings’ salary cap woes. Instead, the Vikings presumably didn’t see any value in Minshew as a player or didn’t believe security at the backup position was worth a six round pick.
Much has been made about Rick Spielman’s ability to find late-round gems but that is a bit of a myth. Since 2015, the Vikings have taken several swings in the sixth round to find “the next Danielle Hunter” or “the next Stefon Diggs” only to realize they aren’t anywhere close.
Year after year, Spielman hoards late-round picks like an 60-year-old collects cats only to realize they have no actual value. It’s why the Eagles beat the Vikings to the punch when acquiring Minshew.
All of this happens in a year where Spielman, Zimmer and the rest of the Vikings front office are fighting for their jobs. They need to make the playoffs and if they have to start Jake Browning or Kellen Mond, that’s not going to happen.
Sure, the Vikings could tap into the waiver wire and come up with Blake Bortles or C.J. Beathard but both options don’t carry Minshew’s upside and cost twice as much money. Instead, the Vikings are comfortable letting the balance of their season hang on a sixth-round pick.