MINNEAPOLIS — While Kirk Cousins was on his way to visit, the Minnesota Vikings were moving swiftly toward securing a potential backup.
According to a person with knowledge of the negotiations, the Vikings were working on a trade Wednesday with the Denver Broncos to acquire quarterback Trevor Siemian. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal, first reported by NFL Media, was not final.
Cousins, meanwhile, arrived on a private plane with his wife and infant son before heading downtown for dinner with team officials with all signs pointing to a deal as the new league year began.
Siemian would give the Vikings a capable backup who started 24 games for the Broncos over the last two seasons, with the free agent Cousins the team’s primary target. As the Vikings watched quarterbacks Case Keenum (Denver), Sam Bradford (Arizona) and Teddy Bridgewater (New York) all join other teams as the new league year began, they were running out of options on a market that began with an unusually high amount of accomplished quarterbacks but quickly dried up amid the opening flurry. The Jets not only brought in Bridgewater, they re-signed veteran Josh McCown, too.
The Broncos juggled between Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch last season and split the position in 2016 between Siemian and Lynch. Siemian, who was drafted by Denver in 2015 in the seventh round out of Northwestern, has a 79.9 career passer rating with 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions over the last two years. He was never the favored candidate, but he climbed his way to the top of the depth chart after Peyton Manning’s retirement and gave the rebuilding club some decent performances despite some struggles.
The Vikings also still have Kyle Sloter, a prospect they signed last September after he was cut in training camp by the Broncos. They even elevated him to the active roster last season to make sure they could keep him, while Bradford was sidelined with a knee injury and Keenum was thriving as the unexpected starter.
Twin Cities television stations staked out the small airport where the Cousins family landed with Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and the restaurant for footage of Cousins, the 29-year-old who also pushed himself up the pecking order with Washington after being drafted in the fourth round in 2012 behind second overall pick Robert Griffin III. Cousins has topped 4,000 passing yards in each of the last three seasons and, despite not owning a single victory in the playoffs, became the most valuable player on this year’s free agent market given his age, durability and accomplishments. ESPN reported Tuesday that Cousins will sign a fully guaranteed $84 million contract that spans three years, but his agent said no decision had been made yet.
If the deal gets done as expected and Cousins stays healthy through the preseason, he’ll represent the sixth different quarterback start Minnesota’s season opener in six years.
The Vikings also let versatile running back Jerick McKinnon leave Wednesday for San Francisco and backup cornerback Tramaine Brock sign with Denver. Nine more of their players became unrestricted free agents, with kicker Kai Forbath, cornerback Terence Newman and punt returner Marcus Sherels atop the list of players likely to return. Guard Joe Berger has not yet decided whether to continue his career for a 14th season or retire.