It’s the worst news amid good news with the Minnesota Vikings and Kirk Cousins.
The Vikings’ quarterback suffered what the team fears is a season-ending Achilles’ tear. Coach Kevin O’Connell said that Cousins had an initial exam that confirmed the team’s worst fear, and an MRI will have a final say Monday.
O’Connell talked about Cousins at length after the game, but part of the time it sounded like something of a season obituary.
“Played the quarterback position as well as anybody in our league,” O’Connell said of Cousins. “Thinking of Kirk. Our locker room, every single player in our locker room, thinking about our leader, our guy right now. I’m just so proud of him. Proud of the way he’s played all season long.
“Whatever is the case, if we don’t have him for one snap or the duration of our season, that will not change what I think of the level Kirk Cousins played to this year and ultimately what he meant to me and our organization.”
With Cousins Gone, Vikings Turn to . . .
Now, the Vikings are without the player who was second in the NFL in TD passes when Sunday dawned, and it likely means they are without a ton of good options.
The Vikings need options, because their record is 4-4, and they are in second place in the NFC North. They’ve won three consecutive games, including Sunday’s 24-10 victory at Green Bay.
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The Vikings, under normal circumstances, would be feeling that they have a solid chance to make the postseason. The fact is that they are the NFC’s seventh seed as you read this.
But these are obviously not normal circumstances. Teams that lose their starting quarterback for most of the season are never operating under normal circumstances.
So what to do next?
Viking Coach O’Connell Needs a Backup Plan
Backup Nick Mullens is on injured reserve and cannot return for another two weeks, so that’s not it at the moment.
The team signed Sean Mannion a couple of weeks ago because of his familiarity in the O’Connell offense. But Mannion, 31, has started only three NFL games, and his team lost them all.
And, yes, third-stringer-turned-backup-turned-Cousins-replacement-Sunday Jaran Hall is on the team. He finished Sunday’s game and completed three of four passes for 23 yards in the process. But young Mr. Hall is a rookie selected in the fifth round out of BYU and definitely needs more seasoning.
So if the Vikings are hoping to salvage this season, the next man up might not the course to take.
And this is where I remind you that the NFL trade deadline is 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
And maybe general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah can pull a proverbial rabbit out of his hat. He would need a proverbial rabbit that can throw the ball 65 yards and knows or can quickly learn the O’Connell offense quickly.
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Case Keenum Leads Litany of Possibilities
Not too many of those rabbits out in the wild.
The most obvious choice for the Vikings to go and try to solve their immediate issue by trying to trade for Houston Texans quarterback Case Keenum.
Keenum is the No. 3 quarterback in Houston and is typically inactive on game days, so he can be had. Keenum is quite familiar with O’Connell, because O’Connell was the QB coach in Washington in 2019 when Keenum was there.
But there are issues: First, the Texans have told teams that have asked about Keenum that they’re not interested in trading him.
Obviously no one has offered the type of value that might change the Texans’ thinking, but that’s the point. The Vikings would have to pay a significant pick, perhaps a fourth- or even a third-rounder for the mere chance to land a backup-caliber quarterback they’ll be inserting in the starting lineup.
Keenum, it must be noted, did help lead the Vikings to the playoffs in 2017.
Matt Ryan Among The Available Free Agents
One NFL executive suggested to OutKick that the Vikings should reach out to the Washington Commanders and join the list of teams that have asked about experienced backup Jacoby Brissett.
The Vikings might also consider a call to the Los Angeles Rams, who run a system somewhat similar to what the Vikings do, and maybe ask about Stetson Bennett. Yeah, it’s a stretch.
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Josh Johnson, who played under O’Connell in Washington in 2018, is on the Ravens’ roster. He’s Baltimore’s No. 3 quarterback. So perhaps a trade there?
On the free agent front . . . .
Matt Ryan is available and has said that he’d consider leaving the broadcast booth for the right assignment.
Carson Wentz is available and has made overtures to different teams about his availability.
Joe Flacco and Nick Foles are also available, and Flacco definitely would welcome the chance to get with a team.
There are no awesome options for the Vikings, but that’s how it is for a team that wants to salvage a season despite losing its starting quarterback.