The Vikings love quarterback Kellen Mond. But they don’t love him enough to turn their current depth chart upside down.
In two years, that could change.
“Kirk’s our starting quarterback,” G.M. Rick Spielman told reporters on Friday night, when asked whether he called Cousins before making Mond a third-round pick. “There’s no competition there. It’s just taking another player, it’s like, regardless of position, if we take a player in the third round or first round, I’m not calling the player and saying, ‘Hey, we may take this guy here.’ Our job is to try to get as many good players in here, and let them all come in and compete.”
They surely envision that Mond will compete. Spielman said that the Vikings had done “a lot of work” on Mond, and that he was “one of the top players on our board.”
How high was Mond on the Minnesota board?
“You see him right in that area as where the top three quarterbacks went,” Spielman said.
That’s quite a statement, and it gives the Vikings quite the answer to the contractual leverage currently held by Cousins. With $56 million due to Cousins over the next two years, a practical inability to tag him in 2023, and Cousins making it clear he’s not interested in signing an extension, the Vikings need a Plan B that could develop into Plan A.
“Honestly, I just signed the extension last offseason and it really doesn’t kick in ’til this coming year,” Cousins told PFT PM in early February. “It’s a two-year deal. Those two years begin with 2021. . . . I think it’s more about going out there next season and the year after that and playing at a high enough level that would justify being able to do another deal beyond that. That’s really where my focus is. As I said earlier, would like to be a Viking for the remainder of my career. I’ve got to play well enough to make that happen.”
If he doesn’t play well enough — or if he plays so well that he can hit the market and cash in elsewhere — the Vikings may have a guy who can become the long-term answer at the position.
The Vikings aren’t bashful about looking for a player to be groomed and developed into the starting quarterback for 10 years or longer. He becomes the latest quarterback drafted by the Vikings since their search for a replacement to Fran Tarkenton began in 1977, with a first-round pick invested in Tommy Kramer.
After that, they spent a fourth-rounder on Steve Dils in 1979, an eighth-rounder on Wade Wilson in 1981, a sixth-rounder on Steve Bono in 1985, an eleventh-rounder on Brent Pease in 1987, a ninth-rounder on Brad Johnson in 1992, a seventh-rounder on Gino Toretta in 1993, a fourth-rounder on Chad May in 1995, a first-rounder on Daunte Culpepper in 1999, a second-rounder on Tarvaris Jackson in 2006, a seventh-rounder on Tyler Thigpen in 2007, a first-rounder on Christian Ponder in 2011, a first-rounder on Teddy Bridgewater in 2014, and a seventh-rounder on Nate Stanley in 2020.
With quarterback becoming the most important position in the game and getting more important all the time, the Vikings will now get to work on developing Mond so that he can become the starter in 2023, if the Vikings decide to move on from Cousins after five years as the starter.
While Cousins faces no competition from Mond this year, if his development goes as planned the Vikings may have a viable alternative if/when Cousins struggles at all in 2022.