EAGAN, Minn. — The NFL's New League Year is on the horizon.
It officially begins at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 16, which means the 2022 edition of free agency is also quickly approaching.
Vikings.com will provide a position-by-position outlook of Minnesota's roster ahead of free agency, beginning with the quarterbacks.
Here's a look at which Vikings are scheduled to become free agents, Minnesota's potential needs and notes on players from other teams that are set to become free agents.
Kirk Cousins and Kellen Mond
Cousins is entering the final season of his current contract in 2022. As we've noted before, Minnesota essentially has three options with the quarterback: let him play out the final year of his deal, trade him or restructure him with an extension (which happened in 2019).
The 33-year-old Cousins has been Minnesota's starter for four seasons, and is 33-29-1 as the Vikings quarterback. He has thrown for 16,387 yards with 124 touchdowns and 36 interceptions in 63 starts.
Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was asked to assess Cousins last week at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.
"I think what you know about Kirk, is when the odds are shifted in his favor, he gets the most out of it, right? And I think people don't appreciate that skill enough," Adofo-Mensah said. "But he is incredibly consistent, an incredibly accurate thrower. Tough. Durable. He plays every game. He stands there and takes those hits when those throws are a little bit harder to come by. He's an incredible player."
While Cousins has plenty of NFL experience, Mond has almost none after a limited rookie season.
A 2021 third-round pick, the former Texas A&M standout endured a steep learning curve in training camp and was then inactive for nearly all of his rookie season.
He made his NFL debut in Week 17 at Green Bay, playing just three plays and completing two passes for five yards.
Many will be watching Mond when Organized Team Activities kick off in a month to see how the 22-year-old has progressed following his first NFL season.
SCHEDULED TO BECOME A FREE AGENT:
Sean Mannion (unrestricted free agent)
Mannion has spent the past three seasons as Cousins' backup and is looked at as a trusted voice in meeting rooms and on the sidelines during games.
He started the 2019 season finale and made another start in 2021 at Green Bay when Cousins was on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Mannion threw his first NFL touchdown pass, but the Vikings were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.
If Mannion returns, he will likely be asked to serve in the same capacity that he has in previous years.
Quarterback is undoubtedly the top position in the offseason spotlight for the Vikings, with all eyes on Cousins.
The conversation of what the Vikings will do with the quarterback dominated the chatter at the combine, and will likely continue to make headlines as free agency approaches.
If the Vikings decide to let Cousins play out the final season of his current deal, that should quell some of the conversation.
However, if the Vikings extend or trade Cousins, those potential decisions will reverberate across the football landscape for a while.
Adofo-Mensah praised Cousins last week at the combine, but also noted that all options are on the table regarding the quarterback.
"All these things are uncertain. How he's going to play, what's the market going to be, all these things, this puzzle," Adofo-Mensah said. "And ultimately you're just trying to answer it not knowing today what's going to happen.
"So, I wish I could tell you for certain anything," Adofo-Mensah added. "Everything's in play, and I hate to be that general, but everything's in play with every player, and everybody's going to get up there and say that, but it is just the truth."
Simply put, whatever happens with Cousins will be a major domino in how the Vikings offseason shakes out.
WHO'S POTENTIALLY OUT THERE?
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal recently released his list of the top 101 potential free agents.
The following quarterbacks are listed in order of their overall rankings: 23. Jameis Winston, 34. Teddy Bridgewater, 96. Marcus Mariota and 101. Andy Dalton.
This quartet has plenty of starting experience, as each has started at least 75 games in the NFL.
And while this group might not have the high-end potential of others around the league, there's also a baseline level of talent and expectations with them, too.
If put in the right situation, perhaps any of these four QBs could lead a team for years to come. But at this point in their careers, each might also be viewed as a bridge-type player to help mentor and develop a younger quarterback, too.