6 free agents the Vikings can't afford to lose in 2024

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages
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Vikings Player No. 3

Kirk Cousins, quarterback

The knock on Cousins is that he has only guided Minnesota to two playoff appearances since coming from Washington in 2018. It’s true that the Vikings have only seen the postseason in 2019 and 2022 since then. It’s also true that the team has advanced no further than the Divisional round during Cousins’ tenure.

However, is Cousins solely responsible for the lack of playoff success and, furthermore, who would the Vikings trade, sign, or draft to replace him in 2024? There are only a few quarterbacks in the NFL currently that have played in a Super Bowl or are even capable of getting a franchise to a Super Bowl. Realistically, none of those signal-callers are leaving their teams any time soon. More to the point, none of those quarterbacks will be a Viking in 2024.

That leaves second-tier players such as the Titans' Ryan Tannehill, for example, as the best of the 2024 NFL free-agent quarterbacks to possibly replace Cousins. The problem with that notion is, as of August, Tannehill and Cousins will be the same age and Tannehill simply hasn’t produced like Cousins.

For example, in his career, Tannehill has two 4,000-yard passing seasons and has been selected to the Pro Bowl once. On the flip side, Cousins has seven 4,000-yard passing seasons (including the past three years) and has been to the Pro Bowl four times (including the past two seasons). 

Since the idea of a second-tier quarterback doesn’t look appealing, what about the 2024 NFL Draft? Assuming the Vikings return to the postseason this year (why shouldn’t they?), the team wouldn’t pick until late in the first round. That doesn’t guarantee a “sure-fire” top-ten pick that could potentially replace Cousins in 2024 (unless the team trades up).

The best case scenario, Minnesota re-signs Cousins in 2024 and looks to draft his replacement in 2025 at the earliest.