As the offseason progresses, it's sounding more and more like the Vikings are preparing to let Kirk Cousins leave in free agency. Take note of the way NFL Network's Tom Pelissero — who is based in Minnesota and is often a mouthpiece for the franchise — phrased this report from the Super Bowl.
"With the Vikings' situation, they would like to re-sign Kirk Cousins, who is set to become a free agent in March," Pelissero said. "But my anticipation is Cousins will have a strong market, even at age 35, coming off of a torn Achilles. And Minnesota is examining all options, in the event that Cousins ends up landing elsewhere. If, in fact, the price tag goes too high, the Vikings would likely pursue a more economical veteran ... (and) hope that veteran becomes this year's Baker Mayfield, while also buying them time to maybe develop a rookie quarterback."
Reading between the lines, that sounds like the Vikings know Cousins is going to command $45 million in free agency — and they aren't going to be the ones paying it. Anything can happen, but it feels like there's a monetary line they don't want to cross, so they're bracing for Cousins signing elsewhere.
Pelissero also mentioned an interesting name who could be a potential bridge QB in Minnesota.
"One guy that's a possibility: Sam Darnold, the 49ers' current backup here," he said.
Darnold was the third overall pick by the Jets back in 2018, but he didn't pan out. He went 13-25 in three years with New York, throwing nearly as many interceptions as touchdown passes. Darnold then started 15 games for the Panthers across two seasons before spending 2023 as Brock Purdy's backup in San Francisco.
It wouldn't be particularly inspiring if Darnold was the Vikings' choice as a bridge quarterback, but the options aren't exactly great. He turns 27 this summer and still has the tiniest bit of theoretical upside due to the arm that made him a top-three draft pick six years ago. Maybe Kevin O'Connell would be able to work some magic with Darnold, who would be in an infinitely better situation in Minnesota than the ones he experienced with the Jets and Panthers.
The last thing mentioned by Pelissero is how Justin Jefferson fits into the Vikings' decision at quarterback.
"This is also complicated, because Justin Jefferson (is) also in line for a monster contract extension," he said. "He thinks highly of Cousins (and is) gonna want answers at the quarterback position before he signs on for the long haul."
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