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Kirk Aboard; Vikings Officially Announce Signing of FA QB Kirk Cousins

The Vikings have gotten their man.

Today the team tweeted out they have inked former Redskins free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, a player they hope will be the final piece for a Super Bowl run for Minnesota.

Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million deal that is fully guaranteed, sources say. It not only makes him the highest paid player in football history, but he’s also the first quarterback to sign a multi-year, fully guaranteed deal. With all the leverage in the world, Cousins and agent Mike McCartney of Priority Sports became pioneers. Only time will tell if they will become trend-setters.

Once it became clear Cousins would sign with Minnesota, sources informed of the specifics took us inside this history contract:

Cousins receives a $3 million signing bonus. His base salaries are $22.5 million for 2018, $27.5 million for 2019 and $29.5 million for 2020. In each year, he gets a $500,000 workout bonus. That’s $84 million. So it’s $26 million in Year 1, $28 million in Year 2, $30 million in Year 3, a top 5 cash flow. There is no hefty signing bonus, but the fully guaranteed $84 million is far more than the previous high of $60 million.

In addition, Cousins has $2 million worth of upside potential in each year tied to Super Bowl-related incentives involving several factors. If his team wins the Super Bowl every year and the rest of the parameters are reached, the deal can be three years, $90 million.

In a word – wow. Last season with the Redskins Cousins threw for 4,093 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.

Vikings Set to Make a Deal for Broncos QB Trevor Siemian

The Vikings found a backup quarterback, Kevin Patra of NFL.com reports.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday the Vikings are finalizing a trade with the Denver Broncos for quarterback Trevor Siemian. Rapoport reported the deal is in the advanced stages, and the early indications are the Vikings will send a late-round pick to Denver.

Siemian provides the Vikes with a backup once they lock down the Kirk Cousins deal, which is expected to be finalized Thursday. Cousins is heading to Minnesota for a visit Wednesday night.

Siemian will provide experience behind Cousins after starting 24 games the past two seasons in Denver, compiling 30 touchdown passes, 24 interceptions and a 59.3 completion percentage. The former seventh-round pick doesn’t boast the tools that get scouts drooling, but proved he can move the offense when protected.

Report: Vikings Wrap Up Three-Year Deal with Free Agent QB Kirk Cousins

The Vikings have reportedly agreed to a three-year contract with prized free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The deal is reportedly worth $86 million and Schefter reportedly that the entire contract is guaranteed, which will prove to be a game-changer for NFL free agency. The deal is expected to be finalized after Cousins visits the Vikings’ facility on Thursday.

Cousins to the Vikings made too much sense for both parties for the deal not to happen. Cousins has said all along that his top priority was finding a team where he could win right away and the Vikings strong roster on both sides of the ball plus stable, talented coaching staff fits that description perfectly. Cousins to Minnesota also seems to be a slam-dunk from a fantasy football perspective with wideouts Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and Dalvin Cook in the backfield.

Vikings Make a Call to Check on Drew Brees’ Interest in Coming to Minnesota

The Vikings have called to inquire about Drew Brees‘ interest in potentially moving north, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports via Nick Shook of NFL.com.

Brees, the longtime New Orleans Saints quarterback, is set to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. It was expected Brees would remain in New Orleans, barring an unforeseen sequence of events that would pry him from the Big Easy.

At 39 years old, Brees has shown very little sign of slowing down, completing 72 percent of his passes in 2017 for 4,334 yards, 23 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. The touchdowns and yards numbers might seem a little lower than usual for the signal-caller, but he operated New Orleans’ most balanced offense since its Super Bowl-winning 2009 season.

Was a Keyword in QB Kirk Cousins’ Blog Post a Sign the Vikings are One Team He’s Eyeing?

Kirk Cousins is officially moving on, but his next destination remains unknown, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports.

The free-agent quarterback penned a lengthy blog post on Monday, the start of the NFL’s legal tampering period, to thank the Redskins and their fans, as well as former head coach Mike Shanahan.

“Knowing I will not be putting on a Redskins jersey next season, it’s hard to look back at all that’s taken place and not become emotional,” Cousins wrote on his website. “I will forever be grateful to Mike Shanahan for taking a chance on me in the 2012 draft. At the time, many people saw his selection as foolish. Time proved otherwise and taught me that there are no guarantees in this business — if you work hard and learn from your mistakes, good things can happen. For the first time in 11 years I will participate in choosing where I play. Having said this, I would not trade the past decade for anything.”

But at the bottom of his blog post, Cousins might have revealed his top choices for his next team. When it was initially published, “Jets” and “Vikings” were among the keywords tagged at the bottom. They have since been removed.

The Broncos have long been considered to be on the short list of options for Cousins, along with the Jets and Vikings and Cardinals. But a definitive group of targeted teams has never been revealed by Cousins or his agent.

Vikings Free Agent QB Teddy Bridgewater Getting Interest From a Handful of Teams About Being Starter

“At least a handful of teams” have shown interest in free agent Teddy Bridgewater as a starting quarterback according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Bridgewater is reportedly seeking a one or two-year deal that would help him rebuild his value after missing most of the past two years due to a knee injury. That knee is definitely a concern and some experts question his arm strength but the former first-round draft pick out of Louisville is a charismatic leader who has 28 starts in the NFL and is still only 25 years old. He might be a good fall-back position for one of the losers of the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes -perhaps the Jets?-and there are also rumors that Bridgewater’s hometown Miami Dolphins might consider an alternative to Ryan Tannehill.

Vikings Gab 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Louisville QB Lamar Jackson

He could be this season’s Kordell Stewart, a player who can play both quarterback, and at a moment’s notice shift to being a wide receiver.

He’s Lamar Jackson, who just wrapped up a solid college career that saw him throw 9043 yards in three college seasons with 69 touchdowns, and he’s ready to make an impact on the team that drafts him come late April.

Jackson is a possible game breaker of a player, but at what position and how long he’ll have to be developed are two big questions about him, and if a team is patient, they may get a player that could stretch the field either under center or lined out wide.

Here’s our report on Jackson, a player to watch in this seasons draft.

Walter Football’s breakdown of Jackson

In speaking with a general manager from an AFC team, they said that Jackson is the most dynamic player in the 2018 NFL Draft. With amazing running ability, speed, and a powerful arm, Jackson is a rare talent who possesses a phenomenal skill set. While he made highlight-reel plays on a routine basis, some in the media have criticized him to the point that he may not be a high first-rounder and could slip to the middle or back portion of the first round. Some analysts have even suggested Jackson should move to another position. However in speaking with team sources, multiple top executives and scouts think that Jackson is being undervalued and definitely can stay as a quarterback in the NFL.

Jackson broke into the starting lineup as a freshman and completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions. That season, he also ran for 960 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. In 2016, Jackson set college football on fire while winning the Heisman Trophy. The sophomore was a massive point-producer for the Cardinals. Jackson completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. He also ran for 21 touchdowns and 1,571 yards while averaging six yards per carry.

Jackson’s 2017 was comparable to his Heisman winning season although he wasn’t even invited to New York as a finalist for the sham award, which effectively excludes linemen and defensive players. In 2017, Jackson completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,660 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry on the ground on his way to 1,601 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns.

Sources from around the league acknowledged that Jackson was a one-man team. Louisville did not have a good running game and fielded a bad offensive line that allowed steady heat on Jackson. Poor receivers consistently dropped well-thrown passes, and that kept Jackson from completing 60 percent of his passes. While a poor supporting cast is used to help justify some of the underwhelming numbers for Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, the same benefit of the doubt doesn’t seem to get extended to Jackson.

Of the top quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, Jackson has the most athletic ability and dual-threat danger to give defenses huge problems. He has elite arm strength with a powerful gun that can make devastating throws. Jackson’s arm is so strong that he can make throws off platform that other quarterback can only make after having set their feet. With just a flick of the wrist, the ball explodes out of Jackson’s hands, and he can beat good coverage with perfect throws that very few quarterbacks can make. Jackson also hangs tough in the pocket while staring down the barrel to deliver passes while under the pass rush. He showed good field vision to work through progressions with pocket presence and patience to let routes develop. Jackson can buy time with his feet, and so many of his highlights are dominated by runs, but Jackson has a devastating arm to hurt defenses downfield. He also has run a complicated college offense under Bobby Petrino, displaying full command for the system.

A First Look Scouting Report from NFL.com

What I liked: Jackson primarily aligns in the shotgun/pistol, but he does take some snaps from under center. He shows quick feet in his drop and has an explosive/snap delivery. He can generate plenty of velocity without incorporating much of his lower half. He flashes the ability to accurately drive the ball into tight windows.

He has tremendous upside as a passer but his ability to make plays with his legs is what makes him special. He has Mike Vick-type explosiveness when he takes off on designed QB runs or scrambles. He gets up to top speed immediately and destroys pursuit angles from opposing safeties. He isn’t quite as shifty as Vick, but he is just as fast in a straight line.

Where he needs to improve: Jackson has a ways to go to develop into a consistently accurate passer. He has a bad habit of locking out his front leg, screwing himself into the ground and falling off throws. This dramatically affects his ball placement and touch. He flashes the ability to work to Nos. 2-3 in his progression, but usually if No. 1 isn’t there, he looks to run. In his defense, the pass protection at Louisville was terrible at times (see Houston game).

The other major concern about Jackson is his thin frame. He is very wiry and he’ll need to add some bulk to withstand a 16-game schedule at the next level. The same things were said about Deshaun Watson early in his college career. He packed on plenty of bulk before leaving Clemson and hopefully Jackson will do the same.

Biggest takeaway: I don’t use the Mike Vick comparison lightly. Vick is the most explosive quarterback to ever play the position. Jackson has that type of dynamic speed. However, Vick was a more polished passer and Jackson has some mechanical improvements that need to be made before he’ll be capable of matching Vick’s professional success. If Jackson can clean some of these issues up, watch out!

I can’t wait to see him play … Clemson on Sept. 16. Jackson put on an impressive display against the Tigers last fall, but Louisville came up a little short against the eventual national champions. This time, Jackson gets to play the Tigers at home. Last year, a highly rated Florida State squad came to Louisville and got thrashed. That was probably the moment that won Jackson the Heisman Trophy. If he leads his team to a win over Clemson this year, his campaign for a second consecutive Heisman would receive a huge jolt.

Some Highlights of Jackson:

Luke Easterling makes the Case for Jackson being the Best Player of the Draft:

First, I’d like to thank you for actually opening this article and beginning to read, rather than seeing the headline and angrily quote-tweeting “yur an moran” along with the link.

Let’s proceed.

The 2018 quarterback class got tons of hype this past offseason, with the likes of UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph all getting top-10 projections from many outlets and analysts.

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield has even shot up the invisible in-season draft board on his way to winning this year’s Heisman Trophy.

The four names I mentioned before have all shown flashes of brilliance this season, but have also provided far more head-scratching moments than many expected. From questionable decision-making and costly turnovers to injuries and inconsistency across the board, the flaws of this year’s top passers have been more evident than their strengths in 2017.

But while Rosen and Darnold continue to dominate the talk of who should go No. 1 overall, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson has been quietly putting together another fantastic season, showing the kind of marked improvement as a passer that should have him firmly planted in that conversation.

Instead, we’ve been forced to endure the tired but unsurprising barrage of “he’ll have to move to wide receiver at the next level” takes. Nobody’s talking about the athletic, talented but raw Allen needing to switch positions at the next level, but Jackson? Oh, definitely.

Before we go any further, let me make this clear: Lamar has flaws. Ugly ones, at times. He’s inconsistent, can be wildly inaccurate, and makes some head-scratching throws. Hell, he’s thrown two odious interceptions against Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer Bowl since I started writing this.

You feel more comfortable drafting the Blaine Gabberts, Christian Ponders, EJ Manuels, Brady Quinns, J.P. Losmans, Kyle Bollers, Joey Harringtons, Patrick Ramseys, JaMarcus Russells, Tim Couches, Akili Smiths, Ryan Leafs, Jason Campbells, Cade McNowns and Jim Druckenmillers?

Knock yourself out.

I’d rather ride or die with a player who could break the mold and become something the league has never seen before.

Again, he’s not perfect. He still needs refinement, and he’ll have bumps along the way. There’s plenty of “boom-or-bust” to his game, but he’s absolutely no more of a risky pick than any other quarterback in this class.

I’m not saying he will be a first-round pick. I’m not saying he’ll be an immediate NFL star, the next Deshaun Watson or a 10-time Pro Bowler who revolutionizes the position. I’m just saying he’s capable of everything we’re projecting for Rosen, Darnold and the rest of the bunch, if not just a little bit more.

Another Scouting Report from The Drafster:

Lamar Jackson is one of the most electrifying play makers in this years draft. Not only is he a solid passer, but he has no problem beating you with his legs. In his previous two years where he had more control of the offense, he passed for 7,203 yards with 57 touchdowns along with 19 interceptions, while running for 3,172 yards and 39 touchdowns. His running ability is likely more responsible for his hype rather than his passing ability.

However, if he wants to adapt to the NFL, Jackson will have to earn to survive without his legs as often. In his sophomore year of college, Jackson had 260 rushing attempts, his junior year he had 232 attempts. In the NFL, he will never see that many attempts, and never should. He has a special talent with running the ball, he has the speed and the elusiveness. This skill should definitely still get put to use, it just needs to be turned down multiple notches.

As said earlier, his running ability has probably accounted for more of his hype than his actual passing has. However this isn’t a fair claim. Lamar has nice velocity on his delivery that can get the ball into a tight window. He has very good accuracy on his short to mid-depth passes, but struggles with his deep ball at times. His on target down the field passes will be some of the most well placed throws you’ll see. His off the target passes downfield are usually barely off but still inconsistent nonetheless.

As far as his skills in the pocket, you’ve of course got the good and you got the bad. On one hand, he has a very good sense for when the pass rush is getting to close, and he’ll either get the ball off right then and there, or he will take off. On the other hand he could use some improvement on his footwork. When dropping back, his feet seem to move slightly slower than you would like, which is the cause for his inaccurate passes. On top of footwork, I noticed whenever he would decide to bolt out of the pocket and run, he would stumble out of his break. As a runner his feet are fine, but while working in the pocket it needs improvement.

Jackson is by no means a finished project and will probably take a season or two to achieve what he is capable of. But it is promising seeing how dynamic of a player he is even with his flaws. If he were thrown into a starter role, I see his rookie year being one of those seasons where certain games he will light up the scoreboard, but then a week later he struggles heavily.

Current Draft Value: Mid to late 2nd rounder.

Vikings Gab 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson

While there’s plenty of stars in the 2018 NFL Draft in April, there’s also going to be one big-name player taking up space on the offensive line, and that’s Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, who some say could be the second-best prospect in this year’s draft.

It didn’t take Nelson long to prove himself, as back when he was a redshirt freshmen it was reported that he had quite the mean streak, something that could prove him well when it gets drafted.

Here’s more on Nelson as we get you set for this year’s NFL Draft:

A quick Career Recap on Nelson from Walter Football:

Career Recap: Typically in an NFL draft, interior offensive linemen have a shot at going in the back half of the first round. An exception was the 2013 NFL Draft, which saw four guards get selected in the top 25 with two in the top 10. The 2017 NFL Draft was a rare year in the opposite fashion as no guards or centers were selected in the first round; the first guard didn’t come off the board until the 38th-overall pick when the Chargers took Forrest Lamp. A lot was made about the 2017 NFL Draft being weak at offensive tackle, but it was an odd year on the inside as there wasn’t a lot of interior talent either. One of the reasons for the lack of high-end talent was Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson deciding to return for his senior year.

If Nelson had declared for the 2017 NFL Draft, he would have been the top-rated guard and probably would have been a Thursday night selection. In this analyst’s opinion, Nelson is a much better prospect than Lamp. Over the past two seasons, Nelson has been an excellent guard for Notre Dame, making an impact as a blocker at the point of attack.

Nelson played well in 2015 in his first season as a starter, but he was dominant in 2016. He moved defenders at the point of attack in the ground game and was rock solid in pass protection.

Some Career Highlights from 2016:

Here’s a scouting report on Nelson from Fox Sports:

Quenton Nelson is a thick and powerful offensive line prospect. He’s the true definition of a road-grader thanks to his ability to move defenders off the line of scrimmage. Nelson is a perfect fit for a team looking to feature a power running game.

His dominance as a run blocker starts with his low pad level which he uses to help him roll his hips and deliver a jolt. That initial jolt is more effective because Nelson is committed to gaining inside hands. He then velcros to this target and generates a push.

Nelson’s heavy hands make it difficult for the defender to disengage and help him control the action. This is also a nasty player who plays to the whistle and wants to deliver punishment.

For his size, Nelson does a good job working off the initial block and climbing to the second level. He reaches linebackers under control and balanced. This helps him ensure that he doesn’t miss blocks or allow the linebacker to streak past him.

With the First Pick on what they See From Nelson:

Quenton Nelson isn’t a flashy player but is someone who gets the job done. He is one of the more physical players in the 2018 NFL Draft. It’s this physicality and his proper technique that make him an excellent run blocker.

Nelson is a beast in the trenches who can generate a push off the line of scrimmage. He is committed to gaining inside hands, maintaining a strong base and keeping his feet moving. His sound technique is one of the main reasons why he is so effective.

As a run blocker, Nelson doesn’t just use brute force to move defenders. He also has a good feel for angles and can seal the defender from the play. Nelson features enough athleticism to get out on the move and reach the 2nd level.
More from With the First Pick

However, there is some stiffness to his game which limits his overall range. Nelson’s size and bulk can result in some plotting movements. He just isn’t an overly explosive athlete which could hurt his overall versatility

Nelson grades out at 7.4 on NFL.com’s Draft Profile, here’s what they had to say about him:

Overview

Defensive linemen facing Nelson and Mike McGlinchey on the left side of the Irish’s line usually had a long day ahead of them. Nelson is a tough New Jersey kid who earned second-team USA Today All-American honors as a high school senior and was ranked in the top 50 overall recruits nationally as a guard. Notre Dame didn’t need him to suit up as a freshman, however, so he redshirted. Nelson got his chance in 2015, starting 11 of 12 games played at left guard (missing parts of two games with an ankle injury) next to 2016 first-round pick Ronnie Stanley. He and McGlinchey then manned the left side in all 12 games of the Irish’s disappointing 2016 season, though scouts weren’t disappointed with Nelson’s ability to move the line of scrimmage low and strong, as well as force defenders to the ground with regularity.

Analysis

Strengths Built like a bank safe with wide hips, broad chest and powerful limbs. Known for intimidating power. Rarely beaten by power alone. Comes out of the blocks with good pad level. Unlocks powerful hips into contact. Can forklift defenders out of the gap creating massive running lanes. Extremely aggressive at point of attack and isn’t happy until he is imposing his will. Premier double team blocker along with teammate Mike McGlinchey. Uses plus leg drive to cave-in down blocks. Moves laterally and in space with adequate fluidity. Works his feet and hips into position to keep blocks secured. Has core strength and body control to make rare recoveries when beaten. Field aware and able to adjust his assignment. Pass sets from desired posture with wide base and evenly distributed weight. Punch is compact and powerful. Fires hands like pistons and is almost always first into the frame with jolt and extension. Able to lock out rushers and maintain complete control with quality mirror through rep. Has hand strength to snatch and sustain in pass pro and run game.
Weaknesses Has a tendency to drop his head into contact in front of him. Will lose sight of his target and whiff against slanting, arm-over specialists. Was on the ground more than he should be against Wake Forest defensive tackles looking to shoot gaps. Has a slight hitch when coming out of his stance as a pull blocker. Lingers on secure blocks a fraction too long before moving up to linebackers. May have to expedite his pace against NFL defenses. Still room for improvement in pass protection and keeping athletic rushers centered. Has had some injury concerns over the years.

Vikings Hire Former Raiders OC Todd Downing as Sr. Offensive Assistant

The Vikings are hiring former Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing as a senior offensive assistant, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Downing, who was let go by the Raiders when Jon Gruden became the team’s new head coach in January, returns to the team that gave him his first job in the NFL.

The 37-year-old, who was an assistant coach at Eden Prairie High School in 1999 and 2000, went from there to a role on former Vikings coach Mike Tice’s offensive staff, holding three different titles from 2001-05. He worked for the Rams and the Lions after that, becoming a quarterbacks coach for the first time in 2011, and after spending 2014 as the Bills’ quarterbacks coach, he replaced new Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo as the Raiders’ QB coach in 2015.

His work with Derek Carr won him widespread praise in 2016, and Oakland made Downing its offensive coordinator in 2017, as the 37-year-old replaced former Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Under Downing, the Raiders’ offense ranked 17th in the NFL in yards and 23rd in points last season.

Vikings Set to Make a Run at Bengals FA QB AJ McCarron This Offseason?

It looks like a new quarterback is about to enter the mix Vikings’ quarterback mix. Should Minnesota be unable to re-sign free agent Case Keenum, it is expected to consider AJ McCarron, Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports.

McCarron, 27, on Thursday was ruled an unrestricted free agent after winning a grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals, for whom he was primarily a backup to Andy Dalton.

McCarron, the former Alabama star, will be considered, more seriously, by several other teams besides the Vikings, including Cleveland, Arizona, Denver and the New York Jets. His price tag is expected to be in the $10 million per year range.

If the Vikings were to sign McCarron, it would be for him to compete for the starting job, not as a backup.