5 bold questions for the Minnesota Vikings offense in 2020

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr.
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Sean Mannion /

Can anyone overtake Mannion for the backup QB spot?

As with any year, most people will be fixated on if Kirk Cousins can take the next step. However, after a season in which he threw for 26 touchdowns and six interceptions, there might not be much more Cousins can do to achieve some other level. At 32-years-old, he kind of is what he is, which makes what’s behind him a little more interesting.

Last offseason, an internal debate among Vikings fans raged that Kyle Sloter was better than Sean Mannion. As Mike Zimmer preached about practice habits, the eye test showed that Sloter was able to get more out of the offense than Mannion during preseason games.

Alas, Minnesota wanted someone who was more supportive of Cousins and Mannion stuck around.

One year later, the Vikings never seemed to find a better option. Mannion was re-signed to a one-year deal and 2019 UDFA Jake Browning might not be ready to take that spot (if ever). Minnesota’s seventh-round selection of Nate Stanley this year throws another arm into the mix, but it’s not certain that he will become a legitimate NFL quarterback even as a backup.

As we move toward training camp, it doesn’t feel like Mannion is fighting for his job. Since Cousins is entrenched as the Vikings starter, that makes sense. But a look back to 2016 should suggest Minnesota proceeds with caution.

That year, with Teddy Bridgewater as the starter, a wrong step in practice thrust Sean Hill into the starting lineup, and Minnesota frantically burned a first-round pick to acquire Sam Bradford.

The Vikings have more pressing needs on offense than figuring out their backup quarterback position. But with Mannion still looking for his first career touchdown pass as he enters his sixth year in the league, it’s something the Vikings might want to keep an eye on.