4 Minnesota Vikings players with the most at stake in 2021

(Photo by Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr.
(Photo by Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr. /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports) Kirk Cousins /

Kirk Cousins – QB

There might be a little more pressure on Kirk Cousins next season since the Vikings decided to pick up his potential successor in Kellen Mond during the 2021 NFL Draft. So even though the former Texas A&M prospect has some work to do from a technique standpoint, he’ll get a year or two sitting behind the veteran in pursuit of one day taking over under center.

Cousins is coming off arguably the best statistical campaign of his career, which is remarkable considering how poor things were before the bye week.

This wasn’t enough to get Minnesota out of the hole they made for themselves, but it does leave them with some hope that things could be different when competitive action rolls around once again.

For the first time since joining the Vikings, Cousins now has a potentially stable backup who can push him for the starting job sooner rather than later. This brings a sense of urgency that wasn’t exactly there when Sean Mannion was holding a clipboard, and if the signal-caller rises to the occasion, it can only mean good things for Minnesota.

There is a flip side to this coin.

More. 5 early free agents the Vikings could target in 2022. light

If Cousins struggles to reach the level expected, then the Vikings might start planning his exit strategy. There is no chance of Minnesota releasing him due to the guaranteed money on his deal, but that shouldn’t stop them from moving on in 2023 if Mond is ready to assume command of the role.