The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, a victory that should be extremely theraputic for Vikings fans everywhere. Instead, the win is overshadowed by the huge loss Minnesota suffered as Kirk Cousins is feared to have torn his Achilles on a non-contact play in the second half.
The Vikings started very slowly this year but were in the process of turning it around; the Packers win marked three straight to move their record to 4-3 on the year. The last two wins have been particularly impressive given they've come without Justin Jefferson. Now, though, Cousins is likely done for the year. And so are the Vikings. Unless they make a move.
Which they could! The trade deadline is on Tuesday and while the Detroit Lions look excellent the NFC North hasn't been this wide open since the pre-Brett Favre days. Jefferson is supposed to provide reinforcements at some point. It's easy to see a universe in which Minnesota is convinced they can compete, but they don't have the pieces to do so on the roster right now. The backup QB to start the year, Nick Mullens, hit the IR along with Jefferson earlier this month, leaving only rookie Jared Hall from BYU. He played in relief of Cousins on Sunday and did not show much, completing three passes on four attempts for 23 yards.
Here are a few possible targets for the Vikings if they do decide to go all-in despite Cousins' injury.
The Commanders are presumed to be sellers at the deadline after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and Brissett seems very likely to be moved. He's a quality backup quarterback but Washington is committed to the Sam Howell experiment and there's no reason to keep Brissett around if they can get assets for him. He is pretty easily the best option for Minnesota, capable of controlling a game and making a few good throws while giving Kevin O'Connell an added threat on the ground. He's not going to win any playoff games but Brissett is definitely capable of keeping Minnesota in the mix for the rest of the year and it shouldn't come as a surprise if they're in the mix for him over the next two days.
Darnold is backing up Brock Purdy in San Francisco in an attempt to revive his career and his opportunity may have come sooner than anybody expected. Darnold looked terrible the last time he was on the field, to be sure. His time with the Carolina Panthers was such a failure the owner forced the team to give up a fortune to pick Bryce Young in the draft last April. But O'Connell is a Sean McVay disciple and McVay built his reputatoin by crafting an offense that makes up for a quarterback's shortcomings better than anybody in the league. The Vikings could certainly convince themselves they could be the ones to fix Darnold-- if the 49ers will part with him. They are undoubtedly still scarred by their rash of QB injuries last year and may not want to move Darnold as a result. But if the Vikings are willing to fork over a decent draft pick, they have to at least consider it.
We got our first glimpse of Heinicke on Sunday as he relieved Desmond Ridder for the Atlanta Falcons and failed to lead them to a comeback against the Tennessee Titans. It would be fair if you were not aware he was a Falcon until today. But he showed an ability to play the position at an acceptable level for a backup while in Washington last season and that might be all the Vikings are looking for, considering their only backup is not capable of reaching that level right now. Atlanta might want to keep Heinicke around considering how the Ridder experiment has gone this season. But as with San Francisco it would be a free draft pick in exchange for a guy they don't really want to play anyway. He'll be in the running.