1. Minnesota Vikings
Based on the NFL’s COVID-19 rules that we’re starting to see the ramifications of, a team with a starting quarterback who hasn’t gotten (or won’t get) a vaccination has a chance to be put behind the eight-ball late in a game week. The Vikings are in that possible predicament with Kirk Cousins. Even if he’s willing to go to great lengths to protect himself and follow protocols, there’s risk he misses a game due strictly to being a close contact to someone who tests positive. If he missed a game due to COVID protocols, the Vikings would surely out a mark in the loss column that Sunday.
The Vikings got a sneak-peek at this scenario early in training camp. Rookie quarterback Kellen Mond registered a positive test for COVID-19, with Cousins and fellow quarterback Nate Stanley tabbed as high-risk close contacts (based on the NFL’s rules, that means Cousins and Stanley were not vaccinated). That left Jake Browning as the only available quarterback for a Saturday night practice session, and fueled the vaccination ire of head coach Mike Zimmer.
In case of a worse-case scenario where Cousins is forced to miss a game because of COVID, or if he were injured more traditionally behind what still looks to be a shaky offensive line, the Vikings can’t be satisfied with Mond and Browning behind him. It’s no doubt a make-or-break season for coach Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman. Lock now stands at or near the top of a revised list of possible insurance options for Minnesota.