Five things to know about a whirlwind 24 hours for the Vikings

What a difference a day makes.

On Monday morning, before the NFL's free agent negotiating opened, there was still at least a chance that quarterback Kirk Cousins was going to stay with the Vikings.

We knew nothing about any concrete offers Atlanta would make for him, nor did we know anything specific about players the Vikings might target in free agency.

Amid all that uncertainty, predicting change was not hard. But just how much changed for the Vikings in 24 hours is stunning. Let's pause for a moment with five ideas that help put into perspective just what has happened so far.

1. The Vikings said all along that they liked Cousins and hoped to keep him. But particularly GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah also made it clear that they had a line that they wouldn't cross when it came to the money and length of the deal.

The fact that Adofo-Mensah stuck to that and allowed Cousins to go to the Falcons is the most impressive thing he has done yet in his two years on the job. It would have been safer in a lot of ways to keep Cousins, but Adofo-Mensah — a former options trader — knows plenty about the long game.

Letting Cousins leave, particularly once we saw the contract terms (more on that in a minute) is what needed to happen for the Vikings to move forward and perhaps contend for a Super Bowl in a few years. I talked about that on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast.

2. Once we saw the terms of the Cousins deal — reported by the Star Tribune's Ben Goessling — it became clear the Vikings were never going to match it. It essentially guarantees Cousins at least two years and $100 million and makes it likely he will be in Atlanta at least three years. I have no idea who the Falcons were negotiating against. It might have been against themselves. But their offer removed any doubt and potentially saved the Vikings from themselves.

3. We didn't even get to the end of Monday (though technically it was very early Tuesday) without a concrete path forward. The Vikings signed Sam Darnold to a one-year, $10 million deal to be their bridge quarterback. They will undoubtedly work to draft their QB of the future next month. That was the hypothetical for months, leading into Monday. In the span of 12 hours or so, it became the known reality.

4. Even as all this was happening, the Vikings dramatically remade their defense with three new key contributors while also reimagining their running game with the addition of ex-Packer Aaron Jones. Those investments are critical as they transition to a new quarterback.

5. All of this has a whirlwind feel to it, particularly because of the pace of change. I don't think the Vikings will be bad in 2024, but it definitely feels like a year of necessary transition. If they end up going 5-12 because Darnold is bad and their rookie QB needs another year of seasoning, that won't be the worst thing. If they can lean into an evolving identity, combined with their existing talent, they still could be a playoff team.

More importantly, they will go into 2025 with tons of cap space and an ascending young quarterback. They will have a higher ceiling and a lower floor than at any time in the last five years.

It's a welcome and necessary change.