5 cheaper Vikings QB options after balking at Kirk Cousins demands

The Minnesota Vikings probably won't pay Kirk Cousins. Here are the alternatives.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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The word on the street is that Kirk Cousins wants somewhere in the ballpark of $90 million guaranteed on his next contract. The Minnesota Vikings appreciate all Cousins has done for the organization, but for a 36-year-old coming off a torn Achilles, that is a lot of dough. The Vikings want to at least maintain flexibility in the form of non-guaranteed money.

If the two sides drift apart, the Vikings will need to find a new starting quarterback to lead an offense that has ranked near the top of the NFL over the last few years. Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson are two of the best pass-catchers at their respective positions. The Vikings have the talent to compete in the NFC North. The front office won't want to bottom out completely.

Cousins is a tremendous talent, but given his age and recent injury history, the Vikings' hesitance is understandable. There's a strong argument for moving on, as any sort of long-term guarantee has major downside risk. The QB market isn't stacked with elite options, but whether it's through the NFL Draft or free agency, Minnesota can find a suitable replacement.

5. Vikings can sign discount Pro Bowler Gardner Minshew

Gardner Minshew is officially a Pro Bowl quarterback. Sure, he was a replacement pick after Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson bowed out, but still. It counts. The Indianapolis Colts went 7-6 with Minshew under center last season. He filled in admirably for the injured Anthony Richardson, completing 62.2 percent of his passes for 3,305 yards, 15 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.

Base-level competence is what Minshew can provide. He's mobile in and out of the pocket. He won't wow with downfield bombs, but he can read a defense and make the simple throws. Off the field, he's a great character to keep around the locker room. I'm not sure how feasible the jorts are in Minneapolis during the winter, but he'll figure something out. Minshew is a fan favorite who is equally beloved in the locker room. He can lead a team and rally the troops.

The Vikings would put plenty of weapons around him — certainly more than Indianapolis did. His Colts success was absolutely aided by Shane Steichen's scheme, but Kevin O'Connell and Wes Phillips are not slouches on the play-calling front. The Vikings' offense is plenty dynamic. Cousins can make more throws than Minshew, but the latter is more mobile. There are new potential wrinkles for Minnesota to explore.

He's certainly not the most exciting option, but Minshew proved that he can start last season. It's not often that Pro Bowl QBs hit free agency to zero fanfare. He would almost certainly profile as a bridge QB until the Vikings can find a young QB they believe in, but Minshew as the stopgap is far from the worst outcome.