May 24, 2024

Shifting from one high-priced veteran quarterback to another might not initially appear to be a viable strategy for the Minnesota Vikings. Nevertheless, numerous sources within the league perceive the idea of the Vikings exchanging Kirk Cousins for Russell Wilson as a “logical fit” for Minnesota.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler’s report on January 16, Wilson, anticipated to be released by the Denver Broncos just two seasons into his five-year, $242.6 million extension, is reportedly “intrigued” by the prospect of joining the Vikings.

Fowler stated, “League sources see several logical fits for Wilson, who could thrive in an offense that schemes clearly defined throws off play-action and the running game.”

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He continued, “Don’t be surprised if Wilson, should he become a free agent, is intrigued by Minnesota, assuming Kirk Cousins doesn’t re-sign with the Vikings (a big if). Kevin O’Connell comes from the Sean McVay passing tree that maximizes quarterback efficiency. Wilson would have plenty of weapons in a group that includes Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and Jordan Addison.”

Despite Fowler’s emphasis on the Vikings as a suitable destination for Wilson, there are several reasons casting doubt on the validity of his information.

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Russell Wilson

In conversations with NFL talent evaluators, Jeremy Fowler discovered that Russell Wilson’s decline in performance in Denver was attributed partly to his physical regression at the age of 35 and also to the Broncos’ failure to leverage his mobility and ability to make plays off-script. Wilson’s hefty contract has posed challenges for Denver in building a competitive team, and the situation was exacerbated by having two different head coaches in as many years, neither of whom utilized his skill set that previously led him to a Super Bowl victory with the Seattle Seahawks.

Sean Payton played a role in a more efficient 2023 season for Wilson, who managed to rejuvenate his value in the NFL by throwing for 3,070 yards, 28 touchdowns, and six interceptions. However, Wilson’s peak performance was characterized by MVP-caliber throwing, excelling outside the pocket, and creating explosive downfield plays through improvisation.

Despite this, Payton appeared to limit Wilson to his system, a constraint that Kevin O’Connell faced when attempting to integrate Josh Dobbs into his own system. An NFC executive suggested that the decision to bench Wilson seemed more rooted in football considerations rather than business motives, emphasizing a mismatch in styles between Wilson and Payton, describing them as “oil and water.”

An AFC executive added, “I think ultimately Sean wanted his own guy at QB. His system is very extensive and usually takes years before a QB is truly comfortable.”

The question remains whether Wilson still possesses the physical ability to return to his gunslinger style of play in Seattle. However, his stint in Denver seemed to deny him the opportunity to showcase that, and unless O’Connell reevaluates his approach in the offseason, it seems unlikely that he would relinquish control to Wilson.

Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Would Likely Rather Keep Kirk Cousins Than Roll the Dice With Wilson

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Given the array of playmakers on the Vikings’ offensive roster, Kevin O’Connell leans towards having a quarterback who can remain poised in the pocket and deliver precise throws. The importance of timing and rhythm in the passing game was evident in the performances of all four quarterbacks who started for the Vikings under O’Connell in 2023.

Few quarterbacks in the NFL excel at this style of play better than Kirk Cousins, whose two years in O’Connell’s system provide him with a distinct advantage over other impending free-agent veteran quarterbacks.

Considering the substantial financial investment that acquiring Russell Wilson would entail, the Vikings are more likely to lean towards either re-signing Cousins or opting for a rookie quarterback in the draft, with the intention of developing them over the next few seasons, rather than committing fully to a high-cost move for Wilson.

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