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Will Vikings turn to Cousins or someone else at quarterback?

The Vikings need talent. Their first path opens next week with NFL free agency, when players can begin agreeing to terms with new teams starting 11 a.m. Central time on Monday. Those contracts cannot be officially signed until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, when the NFL's 2024 league year begins. This week, we will focus on the position groups where the Vikings have the biggest needs.

Free agency previews: Interior defensive linemen | Running backs | Edge rushers

(Salary cap figures courtesy of Over the Cap.)

Quarterbacks

Even if the Vikings re-sign Kirk Cousins before he hits free agency next week, their 2024 offseason could contain some of the most significant developments they've had at the QB position in years. If Cousins leaves after six seasons of stability and impressive statistics (albeit with minimal playoff success), the Vikings would likely scour the free agent market for a short-term starter, while placing even more of a focus on drafting their next franchise QB.

Current roster: Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall

Pending free agents: Kirk Cousins, Joshua Dobbs

Current salary cap invested: $31.7 million (12th in NFL)

Free agents to watch

Kirk Cousins (Vikings): The team's offseason direction hinges on what it does with Cousins before he can become a free agent on Wednesday; the decision will affect everything from how the Vikings spend their remaining cap space to what they do at the QB position. The only viable way to bring Cousins back, though, is to get a deal done before his contract voids on the final day of the 2023 league year. Once that happens, the Vikings have no way to move $28.5 million of dead money off their 2024 cap. Adding new money for a Cousins deal, on top of the $28.5 million in dead money, makes little financial sense.

Russell Wilson (Broncos): Once he's officially released in Denver, would he make sense in Minnesota? Wilson has tormented the Vikings over the years, and he beat them with a last-minute touchdown pass last November. It's hard to see him coming to Minnesota at age 35 and throwing the kinds of on-the-run darts that made him famous in Seattle, and the Vikings would have to determine whether a short-term arrangement with Wilson would be a cultural fit for them. There's no QB (including Cousins) in the free agent market who's more accomplished than Wilson, though, so the Vikings might have to at least consider it.

Baker Mayfield (Buccaneers): Coming off one of his best statistical seasons and a playoff victory, Mayfield could have several suitors that drive up his price — the Falcons could be interested in him if they don't land Cousins — and the Vikings would have to determine whether he'd be worth a commitment, given the fact he can still be turnover-prone. But Mayfield's time in Cleveland, and his stint with the Rams, means he'd be familiar to the Vikings decisionmakers, and it stands to reason they'd at least take a look.

Sam Darnold (49ers): If the Vikings need a bridge QB, Darnold is worth watching. He knows new quarterbacks coach Josh McCown well from their time playing together with the Jets, and his time with the 49ers means he'd be familiar with many of the principles in the Vikings' scheme. Darnold, like Mayfield, is a former top-three pick who's struggled with accuracy and turnovers, but he's only 26 and could attract the Vikings' interest if they believe they've got the QB tutors to get more out of him.

Ryan Tannehill (Titans): Tannehill, at age 35, would be merely a short-term option; his time as Tennessee's starter ended because of a high ankle sprain, and his play has declined in recent years. He'd give the Vikings a veteran who knows how to run an offense, though, and would likely come on an affordable deal.

Jacoby Brissett (Commanders): He was reportedly a trade candidate for the Vikings after Cousins' Achilles injury last October, and his time with the Browns (where he threw for 12 touchdowns against six interceptions in 2022) could provide a reminder of what the 31-year-old can do as a short-term option.