Saturday, June 25, 2022

The current NFC North QB was floated as an option to eventually replace Justin Fields

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins’ contract was supposed to keep him with the team through the 2023 season after he signed an extension in March, but his future after that remains a mystery.

One analyst thinks the veteran signal caller could become a bridge QB of sorts for the Chicago Bears.

USA Today’s Bears Wire’s Nate Atkins wrote about how the Bears can “rebuild” in the event Justin Fields, Chicago’s 11th draft pick a year ago in 2021, fails to come up.

“I’m not suggesting that Fields isn’t the quarterback of the future, but there are four teams that have a franchise quarterback in the NFL — the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, and Kansas City Chiefs,” Atkins wrote on June 22, adding, “Every other team is hopeful, playing an old veteran with no one behind them, or playing a rookie.”

He then suggested one possible path should Fields not become the Chicago type: “Sign a proven veteran in free agency and draft a freshman who can sit and learn.” He also named names, with Cousins, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, stood out.

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“Assuming no renewals are signed, Kirk Cousins ​​and Ryan Tannehill will be unrestricted free agents in 2024. They’ll both be 35 and hopefully get to play for a few years while a rookie sits and learns the NFL system,” Atkins noted. He then knocked out two possible young college stars who could be future draft options for Chicago at QB.

“Two far too early names to think about in the NFL draft are Ole Miss’s Jaxon Dart and Washington’s Sam Huard,” he wrote.

Atkins acknowledges that it’s far too early in Fields’ NFL career to write him off, and admits it’s entirely possible that the 23-year-old QB will see the light of day and give the team the franchise quarterback that he has been missing for decades.

Fields completed 159 of 270 passes (58.9%) for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions, also rushed for 420 yards and two TDs on 72 carries (stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference). He should do better in Year 2 under the stewardship of new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, but it remains to be seen what progress he will make over the next few years.

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Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in March 2022 that the Vikings have an end to the Cousins ​​contract after the 2023 season — and they’ll likely take it. They might keep him until 2024, but letting him go next year is financially feasible.

“Cousins ​​should count $36.25 million toward the Vikings salary cap in 2023,” Goessling wrote. “If he’s not on the list in 2024, he’ll be capped at $12.5 million if a pair of $6.25 million signing bonus shares from Cousins’ two empty years hit the cap.” However, with the salary cap expected to rise in the coming years thanks to the league’s new TV deals, the dead money represents a relatively minor liability, especially if the Vikings find a young quarterback for a rookie deal who will succeed Cousins​ start.

If the Vikings continue and Fields falters, Cousins ​​would certainly be an option for Chicago, especially if the Bears’ current QBs coach, Andrew Janocko, is still on the staff. Cousins ​​and Janocko worked together in Minnesota from 2018 to 2021 when Janocko served as the Vikings’ offensive line/wide receiver/QBs coach.

While many Bears fans may scoff at the idea of ​​the current Vikings quarterback eventually leading their team, the Bears have never had a 4,000-yard passer in their 100-plus year history. Cousins ​​has racked up six 4,000-yard seasons in his 10-year career, including three in the last four seasons he has worked with Janocko.

It’s a big hypothesis, of course, but if Fields doesn’t work — and that’s another big if — the bears could underperform Cousins.

CONTINUE READING: Insiders believe bears could secure a place on the final list for aspiring UDFA

While many Bears fans may scoff at the idea of ​​the current Vikings quarterback eventually leading their team, the Bears have never had a 4,000-yard passer in their 100-plus year history. Cousins ​​has racked up six 4,000-yard seasons in his 10-year career, including three in the last four seasons he has worked with Janocko.

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