8 greatest veteran QBs in Minnesota Vikings history

Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford
Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford / Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
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The Minnesota Vikings have had good veteran quarterback play in its history, so who are some of the best veteran signal-callers to wear purple and gold?

The official start of the 2024 NFL free agency period begins on March 13. As the date approaches, Minnesota Vikings fans will continue to guess whether or not Kirk Cousins will return.

Cousins, a free agent, has been a member of the Minnesota franchise since 2018 and has done well. As a Viking, Cousins has led the team to two postseason berths and thrown for 4,000 or more yards four times.

However, detractors point out that he has yet to get Minnesota past the divisional round of the playoffs. Additionally, Cousins suffered a major injury in 2023 that caused him to miss most of the season.

His injury, plus the fact that Cousins will turn 36 before the new season, has led some fans and media members alike to call for the Vikes to bring in fresh blood.

Unfortunately, the franchise has an uneven history of drafting players who don’t pan out as starting quarterbacks, especially in the past two decades. Names like Tarvaris Jackson, Christian Ponder, and Teddy Bridgewater make Vikings fans cringe.

Instead, Minnesota has often brought in a veteran quarterback to lead the organization. The results have been mixed, but the veteran option has helped lead the Vikings to several successful seasons. That history may lead the front office to keep Cousins instead of counting on an unproven rookie.

Here is a look back at the top eight veteran quarterbacks in Vikings history, in order of when they played for the team.

Greatest Vikings Veteran QB No. 1

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton was a third-round pick of the Vikings in the franchise’s inaugural draft in 1961. He played six years with the organization before being traded to the New York Giants in 1967. During his time with Minnesota, the team never finished better than eight wins.

In 1972, Tarkenton was traded back to the Vikings. While he was away, Minny had improved and even reached Super Bowl IV in 1969. Tarkenton then led the team for the next seven years and became a fan favorite for his arm and scrambling ability.

Following the 1973, 1974, and 1976 seasons, Tarkenton and the Vikings played in three more Super Bowls, although they lost each time. The quarterback also led the team to playoff berths in 1975, 1977, and 1978.

In 13 total years with the franchise, Tarkenton passed for over 33,000 yards and 239 touchdowns and added 2,548 yards and 22 scores rushing. His record was 91-73-6 as a Viking.

In 1978, Tarkenton had career-highs in attempts (572), completions (345), and passing yards (3,468). He also led the NFL in interceptions with 32, which was also a career-high. He retired after the season.