The Minnesota Vikings should ink veteran quarterback Joe Flacco as a backup.
Editor’s update: Shortly after writing this article, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the New York Jets were signing Joe Flacco to a one-year deal.
The Minnesota Vikings could be just fine if their starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins, suffers some kind of elongated injury. This was the argument put out by The Viking Age’s Nik Edlund, based on the premise Minnesota has enough talent elsewhere, particularly the offense’s ground attack, to make up for any season-ending injury Cousins hopefully will never suffer.
If Cousins does go down, however, the backup situation for head coach Mike Zimmer is far from ideal.
Meanwhile, veteran quarterback Joe Flacco, a Super Bowl MVP and champion, is still out there.
OK, so no one in his or her right mind would think Flacco is anything close to what he was during that 2012 season. Flacco flamed out with the Baltimore Ravens in favor of their now-quarterback, Lamar Jackson, and the former’s brief tenure with the Denver Broncos was about as forgettable as possible.
But as Sports Illustrated’s Will Ragatz pointed out, there are primarily two kinds of backup quarterbacks: established veterans and the developmental types.
The 2020 Minnesota Vikings heavily lean towards the latter.
OK, so Cousins’ apparent primary backup, Sean Mannion, is a five-year veteran. But for a quarterback who has never thrown a touchdown pass on 74 attempts, while owning a 57.5 career passer rating, it’s hard to fathom him being a legitimate backup should Cousins be lost for an extended period of time.
Minnesota Vikings backup situation is less than ideal
Third-tier quarterbacks Jake Browning and rookie Nate Stanley are highly developmental. Nothing more at this stage of their respective careers.
Here’s the caveat why a player like Flacco makes sense despite him no longer being a highly sought-after commodity on the open free-agent market. Yet the Vikings are one of those teams in win-now mode. Yes, there are a number of high-profile changes they endured between 2019 and 2020, namely parting ways with wide receiver Stefon Diggs, losing EDGE Everson Griffen, and bidding farewell to defensive backs Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander to free agency. But the overall talent level in Minnesota is still more than worthy of playoff contention.
That’s where having some veteran experience under center comes in handy.
Few teams are properly equipped to absorb the loss of a starting quarterback. But the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles proved it possible with Nick Foles admirably taking over for an injured Carson Wentz.
Can you envision a scenario with someone like Mannion, Browning or Stanley being asked to helm a Vikings offense sans Cousins? It doesn’t seem anything close to the ideal scenario.
It would be one thing if Minnesota was in a rebuild year. While the offseason changes suggest a retooling year, of sorts, the overall roster remains strong enough for a deep postseason run. And while being forced to turn to a backup quarterback is never ideal, having someone who is at least capable of effective management under center can prove to be a vital difference maker.
The Vikings should make a call on Flacco to help bolster this crop.