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Vikings QB speculation sizzles with Sam Darnold buzz on Super Bowl Sunday

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero says the Vikings are "considering all options" in case Cousins signs with another team but other factors could affect their decision.
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Minnesota Vikings quarterback drama takes no days off and several NFL insiders delivered another interesting chapter on Super Bowl Sunday.

During an live report Sunday morning, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero said the Vikings would like to keep Kirk Cousins by signing him to a new contract but the team is also "examining all options" in the event Cousins lands elsewhere in free agency.

"My anticipation is that Cousins will have a strong market even at age 35 coming off a torn Achilles," Pelissero said. "Minnesota is examining all options in the event that Cousins could end up landing elsewhere. If in fact, the price tag goes too high, the Vikings would likely pursue a more economical veteran."

No word on just how much the Vikings are willing to pay Cousins. 

When it comes to who that veteran could be, an notebook by Pelissero and fellow insiders Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport listed several names that could be available this spring.

Justin Fields could be one name to monitor as the Chicago Bears would seek a "historic haul" to pass on Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick, they say, later adding that the expectation is that the Bears "would be able to fetch a premium pick" for Fields if he is traded this offseason.

They also speculate that the Denver Broncos are re-opening contract talks with Russell Wilson but that the quarterback has "likely played his last down in Denver" in part to the $39 million in guaranteed money he is due next season and $37 million that would become guaranteed if he's still on the roster March 17.

Other names such as Las Vegas's Jimmy Garoppolo, Atlanta's Desmond Ridder and Tampa Bay's Baker Mayfield could also be on the move but the one name Pelissero connected with the Vikings is current San Francisco 49ers backup Sam Darnold.

Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium.

Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium.

Pelissero believes Darnold fits the Vikings' idea of signing a veteran quarterback with the hope he becomes "this year's version of [Mayfield.]" Mayfield signed a one-year deal before leading the Buccaneers to the playoffs this season and a similar outcome next season in Minnesota could buy time to find a long-term solution at the position or allow a rookie to develop behind him.

Darnold, 26, will be entering his seventh season in the NFL in 2024 after being selected third overall by the Jets in 2018. He started 55 of the first 56 games he played between the Jets and Panthers before starting just once in San Francisco this season. For his career, he's completed 59.7% of his passes for 12,064 yards, 63 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. 

Finding the right rookie quarterback could be difficult. The Vikings have the 11th overall pick in the draft and while several reports state they will be aggressive in their search for the quarterback of the future, they'll have stiff competition to make a deal happen.

On top of a competitive trade market, Pelissero noted several factors are complicating Minnesota's decision, including Justin Jefferson's possible contract extension.

Jefferson is set to become one of the highest-paid players in the NFL and said he wants to "break the bank" during an interview at radio row as part of Super Bowl week. Pelissero noted that Jefferson thinks highly of Cousins and wants an answer at the quarterback position before signing an extension.

With Danielle Hunter also set to become a free agent and ESPN's Jeremy Fowler suggesting the Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars could be suitors, Pelissero believes that re-signing Jefferson, Hunter and Cousins is probably "unrealistic" for the Vikings.

So will Hunter move on to get the big-money contract he's been seeking? Or will Jefferson get the monster deal that many have predicted for the past year? Maybe the Vikings will decide to shovel more money into the late part of this decade after already placing $28.5 million in dead cap money into void years or perhaps Cousins will get the long-term security he desires.

Whatever the decision, events like this are sure to keep Vikings fans guessing until they find a resolution.