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Speculation season: What national voices say about Cousins, Vikings

The Super Bowl was 11 days ago. The NFL Scouting Combine starts next week. The new league year and the start of free agency are a few weeks away. The draft is a couple months away.

Right now? It's speculation season.

Very little is actually happening in the NFL, but almost everything is being talked about. Mock drafts. Theoretical trades. Looming roster decisions. Cap space.

The Vikings are right in the middle of it, considering their quarterback of the last six seasons is set to become a free agent — unless Minnesota re-signs Kirk Cousins in the next few weeks. What happens with Cousins could influence other QB dominos and will certainly play a role in the Vikings' eventual draft strategy.

Where do things stand? What we lack in clarity, we can make up for in quantity of opinions — as I talked about on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast.

Here is a look at what I consider the most interesting and/or entertaining recent national perspectives on the Vikings, Cousins and what they might do in the draft:

*The latest CBS Sports mock draft, released this week, has the Vikings taking Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy at No. 11. That seems high based on many other projections that show McCarthy being worthy of a late first/early second round pick, but pairing the Vikings and McCarthy has become fashionable lately.

If the Vikings like McCarthy, they can probably trade back and still get him. And if they really like him, it would give them some comfort as the Cousins saga plays out in knowing that McCarthy — unlike Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels — will almost certainly be available (though some believe he will be a Top-10 pick and will still require a trade up).

*Albert Breer at Sports Illustrated noted that the Vikings aren't likely to give Cousins a fully guaranteed deal this time around, writing that Cousins "is now in position to hit the market like he did six years ago, this time older and, of course, more injured."

It's interesting that a lot of places are starting to write more about possible landing spots for Cousins outside of Minnesota. Not saying that's going to happen, but you can read more here ... and here ... and here.

*And finally, The Ringer has the piece of the week with the updated annual NFL Quarterback Commitment Index. The entire thing is worth a read, but here's the take on Cousins:

"The Vikings are a younger team that spent the past few years with an older man. ... With an offensive core that includes receivers Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison and a great offensive line, Minnesota's biological clock is ticking like this. How many generational Packers quarterbacks do Vikings fans have to see until they can upgrade from Cousins?"

All of this falls somewhere between idle and informed speculation. I would say this: Pay attention when the Scouting Combine starts next week. You get a lot of NFL executives, agents and reporters in the same place, and information will start to flow.