Ranking 5 best Vikings Kirk Cousins replacements if he signs with Falcons

The Minnesota Vikings will face stiff competition for Kirk Cousins' services. Here are the potential alternatives.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages
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3. Vikings can gamble on Mason Rudolph's late-season surge

Mason Rudolph began last season on the ropes. He was 28 years old, listed as QB3 in one of the NFL's least-productive offenses. Rudolph's last meaningful reps came in 2019, his rookie season. As fate would have it, however, Rudolph was elevated to temporary starter in the face of injury and underperformance. He started for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16 and carried that role all the way through their postseason demise.

The Steelers experienced their greatest offensive success of the season with Rudolph under center. Now, is that circumstantial — it's not that hard to look better than Mitch Trubisky — or was it meaningful? That is the question NFL GMs need to answer this offseason. Four games is a small sample size. Rudolph completed 74.3 percent of his regular season passes, accumulating 719 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. But, that could easily be a flash in the pan.

Rudolph checks a lot of boxes upon first glance. He's 6-5 with broad shoulders and a canon arm. He can play physical football. He can make the big throws, generally speaking. The accuracy on those throws hasn't always been great, but again, Rudolph quite aptly managed the Steelers' offense down the stretch. Maybe he's a new man, a new QB.

The Vikings shouldn't be opposed to taking a swing at upside. Without Cousins, their outlook for next season becomes immediately hazy. There's no guarantee that Rudolph pans out, but let's be frank — the ceiling with Minshew or Brissett, for example, probably isn't a Super Bowl. There's no harm in banking on raw physical talent and flashes of brilliance in the face of mediocre choices.