The Vikings emerged victorious with their third consecutive win on Sunday, as they dominated the Packers. However, they faced a significant setback when their quarterback, Kirk Cousins, suffered a potentially season-ending Achilles tear. This unfortunate injury comes at a crucial time for the team, as they were building momentum in the NFC North. If they wish to remain in contention for the postseason, they will need to quickly overcome this hurdle.
Unfortunately, the team’s options are limited. The only healthy quarterback on the Vikings’ roster is rookie Jaren Hall, a fifth-round pick out of BYU. Hall made his NFL debut in Week 8 against the Packers. The veteran backup, Nick Mullens, is currently on injured reserve due to a back issue. Another option, Sean Mannion, just recently rejoined the team’s practice squad.
It is likely that one of these three quarterbacks will step in to replace Cousins in the short term. However, if the Vikings are desperate to capitalize on their 4-4 record and avoid squandering their recent success, they may consider pursuing an emergency upgrade. With a wildcard spot still within reach, the possibility of obtaining a higher-caliber quarterback cannot be ruled out.
Here are 12 potential candidates that could pique the Vikings’ interest:
1. Ryan Tannehill – The former Pro Bowler has the most extensive experience among the available veteran quarterbacks. However, he is currently recovering from a high-ankle sprain, making him a risky option.
2. C.J. Beathard – Beathard, a former top-three pick, has yet to prove himself as an NFL quarterback. Nonetheless, his potential and ties to Minnesota make him an intriguing prospect.
3. Andy Dalton – Dalton has served as a reliable backup and spot starter in recent years. With the Panthers’ rookie quarterback showing promise, Dalton could be available.
4. Jameis Winston – Winston’s risk-taking playing style may differ from Cousins’, but he has shown the ability to control the ball effectively. However, the Saints may be reluctant to part ways with him.
5. Mac Jones – Jones has demonstrated improvement in recent weeks, but he has struggled to establish himself as a starter. Although the Vikings might not be eager to acquire him, he presents similarities to Cousins as a pocket passer.
6. Davis Mills – Mills has limited experience but has shown potential as a backup quarterback. The Texans might consider a move, especially with rookie C.J. Stroud emerging as their primary option.
7. Case Keenum – Keenum’s best performances are likely behind him, but his connection with Vikings’ quarterback coach Kevin O’Connell and his past success with the team may make him an attractive option.
8. Bailey Zappe – Zappe has yet to find success outside of New England, and other teams have passed on him. However, if the Vikings are simply looking for competition at the position, Zappe could be a low-cost option.
9. Colt McCoy – McCoy was starting for the Cardinals before their trade for Joshua Dobbs. With 36 games of starting experience, he offers more than some other potential replacements.
10. Carson Wentz – Wentz, despite his tendency for heroics, offers the most big-play potential among available veterans. His Midwest background and previous interest from the Chiefs make him an interesting prospect.
11. Nick Foles – Foles has proven himself as a clutch performer, particularly during his time with the Eagles. Though his success has mostly come in Philadelphia, he could provide stability as a pocket passer.
12. John Wolford – Wolford worked with O’Connell during his time with the Rams. While currently on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad, he could be claimed and activated by the Vikings if needed.
In the upcoming days, the Vikings’ coaching staff will need to make a decision on how to proceed without Cousins. Whether they choose to rely on their current options or explore potential trade or free-agent acquisitions, the team faces the challenge of maintaining their playoff hopes in the face of adversity.