Neal: Vikings should cut the cord on Kirk Cousins

It is time for the Vikings to move on from No. 8 and reset the quarterback position.

This is not totally because Kirk Cousins has suffered a torn Achilles tendon at age 35, although his ability to return from such a serious injury has to be part of the decision-making process. It's more because the Vikings aren't ready to win with him.

When Cousins went down during Week 8, it exposed all the flaws the Vikings had on their roster. Their running game couldn't make up for the decrease in passing yardage. The offensive line is not complete. The secondary still needs upgrades. The pass rush wasn't consistent.

And it must be pointed out that the Vikings began the season 1-4 with a healthy Cousins.

General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's offseason to-do list already includes attempting to re-sign Danielle Hunter and possibly locking up Justin Jefferson, perhaps the best non-quarterback in the game, on a long-term deal.

Let Cousins' contract void in March. Take advantage of a good quarterback class, draft one, get his rookie contract on the books then go about building a deeper roster elsewhere. Starting with locking up Hunter and Jefferson.

I feel the future Vikings quarterback played for the college football championship on Monday. Washington's Michael Penix Jr. has thunder in his left arm and can ad-lib. He wasn't at his best on Monday but has made me forget his horrendous displays from his days at Indiana.

Michigan's J.J. McCarthy doesn't have gaudy numbers but has a strong arm, is mobile, processes well and makes good decisions. He threw into some tight windows on Monday. Adofo-Mensah and Vikings scouts were on hand Oct. 7 when McCarthy and the Wolverines throttled the Gophers 52-7 at Huntington Bank Stadium.

Given the rush by NFL teams to find a franchise quarterback, the position is annually over-drafted. By the time the draft rolls around April 25, McCarthy will be hyped into the first round. Penix also would be a good fit for the Vikings, who have the No. 11 pick. Give coach Kevin O'Connell a young quarterback, with more upside than Jaren Hall, who he can develop.

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The Vikings' 13-4 run of 2022 was an anomaly. The Vikings made history by winning 11 one-score games. Historical is not sustainable. Plugging Cousins into the 2024 equation will not guarantee a repeat of 2022. Adding more talent around the roster gives them the best chance at another 13-win season. Signing Cousins for $35-40 million for another season or two or three will stymie that process.

Adofo-Mensah needs a big offseason. He's coming off of two underwhelming drafts and a foray into free agency last offseason that yielded more swings and misses than Joey Gallo. Jordan Addison was a strong pick. But Lewis Cine, their first-rounder from 2022, has barely touched the field. Marcus Davenport made most of his $13 million from the trainer's room this season. Adofo-Mensah will have the highest draft pick of his three years in charge, and a chance to alter perceptions of his talent evaluation skills.

With so much work to be done, bringing back Cousins doesn't make sense. They can reach the postseason with Cousins, for sure. But the Vikings are not built for a postseason run. They need to reach the level of the 49ers or the Cowboys in the NFC. They lack the talent.

Signing Cousins before the 2018 season was not the home-run hire the Vikings sought, but his career should be looked upon favorably. He went from being criticized (padding stats in losses) to respected (following his performance in the Netflix series "Quarterback") to missed (following the injury).

Now the Vikings need to change quarterbacks and plot a different course for sustained success. It's time to cut the cord with Kirk Cousins. And it's time to retire the term "competitive rebuild" because it's joining "triangle of authority" as failed Vikings catchphrases.