EAGAN, Minn. – It is unclear how the Vikings will handle their quarterback situation this offseason.
They may choose to re-sign Kirk Cousins, or they could opt to pursue a rookie through the NFL Draft or bring in another free agent – or any combination of the three. Gavin Dorsey of the Star Tribune recently outlined five potential options for Minnesota.
One of the options Dorsey presented is trading up to the No. 7 pick (Minnesota is currently slated to pick at No. 11) and draft LSU's Jayden Daniels. Dorsey wrote:
Given how many QB-needy teams there are, it might be far too difficult to trade into the top three for USC's Caleb Williams or North Carolina's Drake Maye. Daniels is a fast-rising prospect, but the Vikings might be able to snag him without giving up too much to jump in front of a team such as the Falcons at No. 8. Daniels, the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner, is dynamic with both his arm and his legs, combining for 50 scores to only five turnovers, and got better as the season went on.
Three of Dorsey's options involve drafting a first-round quarterback. Another example included trading back and tabbing Michigan's J.J. McCarthy.
It's hard to find a quarterback whose stock has risen higher from handing off the ball than McCarthy. The junior passer led a Michigan team that ran the ball more than every Power Five team but West Virginia to a national championship, and because of the Wolverines tendency to run the ball almost 40 times per game, McCarthy hasn't truly gotten the chance to showcase what he can do in an NFL-style offense. However, he has shown flashes, and his athleticism allows him to succeed on off-balance and off-center throws.
Dorsey noted that it's "hard to know where McCarthy's potential lies without a high quantity of passes" but said he can fit into Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell's system. Dorsey proposed the following trade package: Vikings receive picks 25, 57, 170 and a 2025 second-rounder; Eagles receive 11th pick.
One of Dorsey's scenarios includes not drafting a quarterback. Instead, Dorsey opined why signing a "bridge quarterback" could work best.
If the Vikings don't see any of the 2024 options as their quarterback of the future, they could look ahead to 2025 and sign a veteran free agent to help them through the season at a low cost. Players such as Sam Darnold, Jameis Winston and Jake Browning are expected to be available and could set up the Vikings for a 2025 quarterback with a higher draft pick, such as Texas' Quinn Ewers, Georgia's Carson Beck or Colorado's Shedeur Sanders.
As they did with Jaren Hall, the Vikings could also take a flyer on a 2024 late-round quarterback such as Florida State's Jordan Travis (who was stellar before injuring his lower leg in November) or Tulane's Michael Pratt.
Dorsey did note that "none of these options rule out Cousins' return" to Minnesota.
Click here to read all five of the Vikings offseason options from Dorsey.
ESPN shares key re-signing decisions for all 32 teams
With just the Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl remaining, the 2024 NFL offseason is quickly approaching.
ESPN had its NFL Nation writers pick one player from each of their respective teams whose contract could shape that franchise's offseason.
Vikings beat reporter Kevin Seifert pointed to Cousins and wrote the following:
*Cousins' contract will void March 13, preventing the Vikings from using their franchise tag on him and guaranteeing him a path to the free agent market if he wants it. The team's key decision-makers are on record saying they will try to get Cousins re-signed, and the quarterback has said he wants to finish his career in Minnesota. The outcome likely will hinge on whether the Vikings are willing to give Cousins, who turns 36 in the summer, multiple fully guaranteed years in his new deal. That seems a 50-50 proposition at best. *
We'll stay in the NFC North, starting with the Bears. Chicago beat writer Courtney Cronin shared why cornerback Jaylon Johnson is pivotal to Chicago's offseason, saying Bears General Manager Ryan Poles "left little doubt" that re-signing Johnson is a top priority.
"Jaylon's not going to go anywhere, and we'll work through it to get something done," Poles said on Jan. 10. Johnson earned second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors, as he nabbed a career-high four interceptions and allowed a 50.9 passer rating into his coverage, which was the lowest of the four All-Pro cornerbacks.
Johnson said he wants to remain in Chicago even after extension talks stalled last fall and said recently on a podcast that he's "definitely deserving of [being] the highest paid [at the] position."
For the Packers, much of their young talent is still under contract. ESPN's Rob Demovsky believes safety Darnell Savage could return.
*The youthful Packers don't have a lot of must-sign free agents; running back AJ Dillon and guard Jon Runyan probably will have to seek jobs elsewhere. But Savage could be one to return. The 2019 first-round pick has been praised for his leadership and communication skills and would probably prefer to return to the Packers, who might be looking for two new starting safeties if they don't bring back Savage. He had 51 tackles in 10 games in the regular season plus a key pick-six in Green Bay's [Wild Card] upset of Dallas. *
Lastly the Lions, who are set for the latest draft position in franchise history. Eric Woodyard highlighted the impact of safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson.
After a Super Bowl run with the Eagles in 2022, where he was the NFL's co-leader in interceptions with six, Gardner-Johnson signed a one-year deal with the Lions as a possible window to a bigger deal this offseason. He suffered a torn pectoral during Week 2, however, which placed him on injured reserve, and didn't return until the regular-season finale versus Minnesota, where he picked off a pass.
*When healthy, Gardner-Johnson brings experience and has been productive, but the likelihood of him returning to Detroit could depend on whether Defensive Coordinator Aaron Glenn returns. Glenn has fielded several interviews for head-coaching positions and shares a close bond with Gardner-Johnson, which is what drew the safety to the Lions organization. *