The Vikings have taken a different path at quarterback this year, slotting inexperienced passers behind starter Kirk Cousins. Third-round rookie Kellen Mond and practice squad veteran Jake Browning are competing to be Minnesota’s backup. Thus far, the results have not impressed.
While Minnesota also has 2020 seventh-round pick Nate Stanley and well-traveled former UDFA Danny Etling on the roster, Mond and Browning appear to be vying for the gig. Following the team’s second preseason game, Mike Zimmer described his QB2 situation as a work in progress said the team will discuss bringing in an outside option this week, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson.
Mond, who missed time due to a COVID-19 contraction earlier in camp, has not progressed to the point he can be relied upon as a backup, per Tomasson. Browning, Stanley and Etling have also not taken any NFL regular-season snaps. Browning has spent the past two seasons on the Vikings’ practice squad. The Vikes did not re-sign two-year backup Sean Mannion, and their hopes of trading up for Justin Fields did not produce the desired result. Although Cousins has proven durable (zero missed games due to injury), the team may be vulnerable if its starter suffers an injury or lands on the reserve/COVID-19 list again.
Under Zimmer, the Vikings have used several veterans as backups. Matt Cassel, Shaun Hill, Case Keenum, Trevor Siemian and Mannion have been in these roles at various points over the past seven seasons. The Vikings’ 2017 Keenum addition proved rather important, with Sam Bradford going down early and Keenum delivering by far the best season of his career to steer the team to the NFC championship game.
Zimmer cited a need to be careful financially, despite the team holding more than $13MM in cap space and a QB2 signing unlikely to cost much at this point. Available options include Blake Bortles, new ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III and Josh Rosen. The latter, however, has not been viewed by his past two teams as a backup-caliber passer. Minnesota could look to the trade market as well. With Falcons backup A.J. McCarron going down with an ACL tear and the Jets also having no experience behind their starter, there figures to be competition on the trade front.
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