The Minnesota Vikings have made it clear that they are all-in on winning next year. With a free-agency period dominated by defense and a head coach that has completely ignored the offensive side of the ball, their plan is not to build for the future but challenge for the final spot in the NFC playoffs.
To their credit, the Vikings have crossed most of the needs off their offseason grocery list. They added a top cornerback in Patrick Peterson. They picked up a replacement for Anthony Harris in Xavier Woods. They also added more beef in the middle of their offensive line to stop the run.
All of this is great, but it doesn’t mean anything if the Vikings don’t have a contingency plan at quarterback.
They are planning on entering the season with either Sean Mannion, Nate Stanley, or Jake Browning as their backup quarterback. After five seasons in the NFL, Mannion, the veteran of the group, has yet to throw his first touchdown pass. He also has never won a game in which he started. And that somehow that looks like meaningful experience compared to Stanley and Browning.
Kirk Cousins has never missed a game due to injury, so it makes sense that the Vikings would feel comfortable with their backup quarterback situation. But if they are serious about covering every hole to contend in 2021, then it’s time to get serious about QB 2.
The Vikings should absolutely consider a trade for Gardner Minshew.
There are plenty of reasons not to trade for Minshew, but many of those are because of his outside opinion. Minshew looks like a stunt-double for David Arquette in “Ready to Rumble,” but he also has shown a better NFL track record in two seasons than Mannion has in six.
In 23 games, Minshew has thrown for 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions (20 starts). He did that while playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose owners are more interested in running world-class soccer teams and professional wrestling promotions than a marketable professional football team.
During Minshew’s time in Jacksonville, he has played for a head coach (Doug Marrone) who has been obsessed with running the ball and doing things the Bill Parcells way. He also played with a supporting cast that included D.J. Chark and basically nobody else in the passing game.
Despite this, the Jaguars opted to bench Minshew in favor of Mike Glennon. This wasn’t a move based on performance but rather to secure the services of Trevor Lawrence. With the most complete quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck falling into their laps, it didn’t make sense for the Jaguars to win games.
But it could make sense for the Vikings.
In 2016, they were in a similar situation with their quarterback. With Teddy Bridgewater looking like the next franchise savior, there wasn’t a glaring need to address his backup. That changed during a random practice when Bridgewater dropped back, and his knee buckled, altering the Vikings’ plans.
Faced with a team that was built to win, the Vikings got desperate and hurled a first-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Sam Bradford. The former No. 1 overall pick was fine during the 2016 season, but his bad knees gave in a year later, and he missed the final 15 games of the 2017 season.
While the Vikings were trying to find a way to get Bradford on the field, the Eagles cashed in. After selecting Derek Barnett with the draft pick acquired in that trade, Barnett strip-sacked Case Keenum in the 2017 NFC Championship and turned what could have been a close game into a 38-7 blowout.
Of course, Zimmer doesn’t think much about his offense, so it might be better to put things in a defensive perspective.
Last offseason, the Vikings acted like their defense was fine despite losing five starters. Mike Zimmer boasted he had never had a bad defense, but the unit fell apart when Danielle Hunter went down with an injury before the team’s first full practice.
When Hunter’s neck injury was deemed more severe than a “tweak,” the Vikings got desperate again. The result was a second-round pick burned on Yannick Ngakoue, who played six games in Minnesota before being traded to the Baltimore Ravens. The Vikings are currently looking to recoup that second-round pick. But the situation could have been avoided if they had gotten ahead of their lack of depth.
The same scenario could play out at the quarterback position. Cousins has never missed a start during his nine-year career, but it doesn’t matter if he were to get injured behind his poor offensive line.
Zimmer and Rick Spielman are in contract years, and the Vikings could hit the trade market again. With the Jaguars possibly having more suitors toward the regular season, the price for Minshew (or any other quarterback) would go up, creating a situation where the Vikings overpay for an upgrade on Mannion.
Trading for Minshew would provide peace of mind for the Vikings. As long as Jacksonville is not asking for a first- or second-round pick, the Vikings should use one of their four fourth-round picks to try and acquire him. Even if they had to give up multiple picks, the cost would be worth it not to be one Cousins’ sprained ankle away from a 7-10 season.