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Luke Braun | "Locked On Vikings" Podcast Host

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March 12, 2024 6:02 am

Luke Braun | "Locked On Vikings" Podcast Host

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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March 12, 2024 6:02 am

Luke Braun of the "Locked On Vikings" podcast joins the show to talk about the departure of Kirk Cousins, and where the Vikings turn to now.


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Additional terms apply. Right now we welcome Luke Braun, who dare not get any shut eye, covers Minnesota Vikings Nation and all of their moves for the Locked on Vikings podcast and got a lot of material on his social so make sure you check it out. Luke, let's start with the Kirk Cousins piece, which obviously has ripple effects around the league. What's your reaction to him heading to the Falcons? My instant reaction was, oh wow, the Vikings were never going to get close to that.

They were way, way more cautious about their relationship with Kirk Cousins. Rick Spielman would have done this deal. Kwesi Del Famenso would not have done anything close to this deal. It's a four year deal. He's really likely to see three years of it. He is technically cuttable in the third year, but the Falcons would incur a $35 million dead cap hit, which even in an inflated environment is still a pretty good incentive not to do that unless he's done, unless he's retiring, which I think he will be 38 for that season. But I know that the Vikings had, or at least the reporting is that the Vikings were nervous about guaranteeing him two years, let alone guaranteeing him two fully and then putting a third with enough partial guarantees where it makes it a difficult cut and a more likely restructure.

He'll get a signing bonus in that one. The Falcons are really going in with Kirk Cousins. They're saying we want him to be here. And we think that with Drake London and Kyle Pitts and all those guys, we can win a Super Bowl. And I think the Vikings are definitely not there with their roster. They got some pretty good weapons, obviously, but I don't think that they have quite enough committed yet to the future to really be able to buy into Kirk Cousins. And I just think that Quasi Del Fomenza doesn't like him as much as the Falcons did. Knowing what you know of Kirk, how do you think he fits with Atlanta?

I think it's great. For one, Zach Robinson is, he's a McVeigh guy and Kirk Cousins did pretty well with the last McVeigh guy, which is Kevin O'Connell. And the Kubiak, who he spent 2019 through 2021 with Kubiak or some variant of a Kubiak, also did pretty well. So as long as he's in that sort of McVeigh, Shanahan, Kubiak style system where there's a lot of rollouts and bootlegs, that outside zone, which is what the Falcons are going to run now, you're going to see the scheme fit. You're going to see his skill set utilized properly. The thing that Falcons fans need to know about Kirk, everything mechanically that he does is really sound. If you compare the way he throws to any of these rookies coming out, he's going to be a lot more clean, a lot more polished. That's what you get with a veteran. Arm strength is good and all that stuff.

You can read things out, you can read the full field and all that. What you don't get is a scramble drill, necessarily. There's some times where he'll be able to move the pocket and find a play, but it's really, really inconsistent. And everything with Kirk is really inconsistent.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I have the cousin's chaos meter where some games he will be the most conservative dude ever. He'll check down on fourth and eight, that kind of stuff. And some games he's testing insane windows and turning the ball over. And then some games he finds that perfect balance and he looks like the best quarterback in the league. And the issue that we had here in Minnesota is that you could never get enough of the good balance games.

You'd always get too many of the things on the other side. And it was really difficult to string together the kind of win streak you would need to make a run in the playoffs and win the Super Bowl, which is ultimately what Kirk was brought into Minnesota to do. And in six years, they ended up with one playoff win in a whole bunch of 500-ish seasons. Didn't work out here, but I wouldn't let that get you down, Falcons fans. There's a lot that you can do that's proper.

But when the bullets start flying and it's time to go into improv mode, that's kind of when you see the worst of them. Busy day for Luke Braun and anyone following the Vikings. He's got the Locked on Vikings podcast and is with us after hours with Amy Lawrence on CBS Sports Radio. Breaking news in the last couple hours, Sam Darnold will be a veteran QB option for the Vikings, a one-year deal worth up to $10 million. What else will the Vikings do with that position to fill the void left by Kirk Cousins?

So it's big time going to be the draft. They wanted a young quarterback really, really bad last year. They threw out some offers that would make your head spin if team said yes to them, but nobody said yes to them. They were picking at 23, so they would have had to, they were trying to move up a lot further than you're thinking. They tried to get involved in that.

They got kind of turned away. They're going to try to do that again, but this time they're coming from 11. I would definitely pencil in the Vikings as getting somebody, whether it's trading up to three and seeing if New England maybe doesn't like these quarterbacks as much as they do, and maybe they're willing to give up the pick. The Vikings sure are trying to coax them into that. Or whether they trade up a little bit, maybe they only trade up to five with the Chargers and they end up with JJ McCarthy or whoever the QB score is. They're going to get involved and it's going to be really hard to outbid them because Quasi is absolutely insane about this. I don't think he thinks he can overspend on his quarterback when it comes to, you know, drafting a quarterback high.

I don't know if he's wrong about that. Let's say Caleb Williams is off the table. They're probably not going to move up to number two because the commanders also desperately need a quarterback. So if third is the highest that they go, who might be a good fit? I think you can make pretty good arguments for all three of the guys that you would say that, you know, could be at that third pick. With Drake, May and Jayden Daniels is the name to hear most often. And at the combine, there's actually some smoke that maybe JJ McCarthy is the third QB off the board, which would surprise a lot of people. But I don't know, something that was out there.

Maybe you think it's a smokescreen. But of all three of those guys, I would say fit wise, it's pretty, it's Kevin O'Connell will figure it out. Let me put it that way. For me personally, I'm a big, big Jayden Daniel guy. I really like what he can do. I love that he can, you know, how does the scramble drill from 60 yards out?

I think that's really awesome in the league. And I also think that he's a little more polished than he gets credit for. I love Drake May though.

Like no, no slouch on Drake May. And honestly, when it comes to JJ McCarthy, I do think that he's closer to those top upper echelon quarterbacks. I still have him as the fourth guy, but I think the gap is a little shorter than, than sometimes it gets made out to be. Some people put them down in that second tier with like Mike Pennix and Bo Nix. I don't think that that's true at all. I think JJ McCarthy is an NFL starting quarterback.

So personally, I think if you get any of those, I can, I can talk myself into any of them. But I would prefer Jayden Daniels. I don't think that that's nearly as plausible as one of McCarthy and May based on what kind of rumors came out at the combine, but who knows? Right.

That's all combine smoke. Who's who's to ever say, let's just sit back and eat some popcorn. Rookie quarterback though. What does that mean for Justin Jefferson?

He's going to get the bag, man. He got real close to signing a deal. Um, and actually the, the reporting from, I think it was Ben Gosling of the Star Tribune, the Star Tribune podcast was that Justin Jefferson's camp put forward a contract extension that the Vikings were very, very close on signing. They thought they had a couple of little tweaks they wanted to make, but they were like really, really close.

Quasido from myself and confirm this report at the combine on the podium too. So they got really close before the season. That would have been early to do it. Right. You haven't seen the extension for anybody like a TD lamb or anybody else from that 2020 classic of the quarterback.

Yeah, they are close to that. So my guess is they right now, I mean the Vikings just have more urgent matters at hand, right? They're figuring out, they needed to wait to see what's going on with her. They're figuring out free agencies and the draft is coming up, but I would say after the draft you start to get to work on those and I don't know how long it's going to take for the Vikings to get Justin Jefferson locked up because what that tells me is that they've already agreed to give Justin Jefferson that bag. He knows he's getting and I think that's why he was able to be so open about it at the super bowl because they already know that there's going to be a big number and everybody's okay with it.

They just have to work out a couple of the details when it comes to cash flow. Having a rookie quarterback or a young quarterback, which often is a wild ride, doesn't impact whether or not Jefferson returns to Minnesota. You still think, regardless of who the quarterback is, he is destined to stay there in Minneapolis. Yeah, that's my understanding based on second hand, third hand and just the reports that have been out there and for whatever it's worth at the Super Bowl, Justin Jefferson did a lot of interviews and everybody asked him that question.

His answer was very, very consistent throughout all of those. He said, yeah, yeah, I love Kirk, would love to see Kirk back. He's my guy, gassed up Kirk Cousins a little bit.

But then at the end of the day, he said, I'm always going to be me. So I think as long as that guy has an arm and can throw him the football, he's going to be happy. And I think what this really means is if you are a rookie quarterback, I think you really want to go to Minnesota because that's a really good dude that you get to throw to in your rookie year. And even if there's an issue and they can't get a deal done, they still have two years team control on Justin Jefferson with the fifth year option and then the franchise tag, which that's two years of the rookie's contract.

And you can get to know that guy a little bit. There is none of this, like he needs a veteran quarterback or anything like that. That's all always been a fabrication from either people who just want to steal your attention for ad revenue or people who are trying to drum up some value like an agent or something like that. Luke Braun is busy following the first full day of free agency.

Forget legal tampering. It's just flat out free agency for the locked on Vikings podcast and the various moves either the Vikings have made or didn't make on After Hours with Amy Lawrence here on CBS Sports Radio. So what else do the Vikings need to do then? Where else should they be looking? I still think they need another defensive lineman. They had, they brought in Jonathan Granard. They brought in Andrew Van Ginkle. That's a couple of interesting edge rushers. I still think they need some help on the inside. Maybe even another edge rusher that you can get in the draft or something like that.

It's a really interesting class, but obviously you've got priorities in the draft with quarterbacks. So shoring that up with a lot of veterans makes sense. And they also need a left guard, although I still would love to see them bring back Dalton Reisner who's a pending free agent. They brought him in. He played like the back half of the season last year after they traded Ezra Cleveland away and they seemed pretty happy with that.

That seems like a very passive least resistance move that the Vikings could make. So they've still got a lot of names to bring in, but thankfully because of a lot of sacrifices that they made over the last couple of years, they had the money to do all that. So yeah, expect to see the Vikings in the news still a little bit here as the next couple of days roll out. Is this a rebuild? Is it a reload?

Is that a retool? What are the Vikings doing? Yeah, call it a rebuild, I would say, but it's not the kind of rebuild that you're seeing in Chicago where it's just like slow lurching. Like, you know, they'll get a couple of key players every off season and hope that they can put something together. No, the Vikings have basically nothing committed beyond 2024. They've got, I think six players committed beyond 2024, four players committed beyond 2026 outside of rookie contracts. And two of those four, they signed today.

So they've got nothing in their future, but they also don't have any resources committed to the future. So this is Kwesi actually building the team he wanted to build. I think when he came in, the plan was for him to say, all right, this is two years with this Kirk Cousins build. We'll kind of take the remnants of this Rick Spielman thing and just kind of say, well, it was the old coach's fault that this fell apart and let's take two more cracks at it with this. But now this is going to be Kwesi building the team that he was brought in to build. And this is no longer him just sort of flying the plane that Spielman built.

So we'll see how that goes, but it's now going to have a lot more of the Kwesi flavor. We'll really see what the differences are between him and Rick Spielman in a lot more clarity. When you think about the NFC North, we know the Lions are a team to beat and were a step away from the Super Bowl. So they're on the rise. Packers had a surprise second half and a nice run in the playoffs compared to the division. Where's the balance of power? You're going to have to ask me that again when they have a quarterback, because that's really the question here. I mean, what if they end up with Drake May and Drake May turns out to be the truth and the guy that everybody's hyping him up to be.

Then, you know, suddenly that doesn't feel so intimidating. But here's what I'll say when it comes to like who's in your division. The Vikings have dealt with Brett Favre and then Aaron Rodgers for a long time, and they still manage, the Vikings and occasionally the Bears, managed to keep the Packers from going on any streaks longer than I think four years, the longest streak they had in that whole multi-decade era.

Compare that to say the Chiefs who have won the AFC West eight years in a row, dating back to even before Patrick Mahomes. And I think unless you've got that kind of like Tom Brady style strain will hold on the division, you always got to chip in a chair, right? Everybody starts 0-0. If you want to bet against the Lions and bet on the Vikings because they're an underdog and they're good value, then great more power to you.

But everybody starts 0-0. We got games to play. I'm not worried about it. What do you think about the Packers moves in terms of Xavier McKinney? And of course we talked about Aaron Jones releasing him. Would you say the Packers upgraded?

How do you like it? Yeah, I think Xavier McKinney is the big one for me. If I'm a Packers fan, they needed a safety really bad. And regardless of your opinion of Xavier McKinney, which I don't have a very strong one, I don't really know a lot about him, so I'll leave that to lots of Packers or lots of Giants, right? But what that does is now you go into the draft and you're not priced into a safety. You can go get an interesting end rusher if that's who falls to you or another wide receiver I don't think could hurt or tight end I don't think could hurt for them. Somebody else on the offensive line to keep that bolstered as they cut David Bakhtiari, who clearly his availability was questionable the last few years. And that extra flexibility I think will go really, really far. Even if Xavier McKinney doesn't work out for them long term, it'll at least give them that kind of flexibility for now. So far what the Packers have done is pretty smart.

Yeah, I'd be pretty happy if our Packers win. Luke Braun is Vikings insider locked on Vikings. Fast and Furious, the information coming in with NFL Free Agency now.

It's after hours here on CBS Sports Radio. Sam Darnold, the starting quarterback or Sam Darnold as in he's a veteran option? Sam Darnold as in the guy who will compete with the rookie.

You'll probably have a camp competition. I bet Sam Darnold starts out on the first team when camp opens and then you know by the end of the preseason who's to say and whenever that rookie is ready he gets to go in. One year deal, $10 million. There's your bridge quarterback. That is one that made a lot of sense to me from the get-go because of what Sam Darnold did in San Francisco. Once he got into a Shanahan system in that preseason, he looked a lot better and it seemed like he took a little bit of a step forward. But we're not expecting anything more than half a season to this guy just keeping the feet warm. I like it.

All right. So while we're talking quarterbacks in the NFC North, why do you think Justin Fields doesn't have a new home yet? He might just be kind of stinky a little bit. I mean, that's what I've been saying for the last couple of years. He got ruined because of the way the Bears didn't really prioritize like his development. Also, I think a bunch of really bad luck factors. Russell Wilson could have gone to a lot of places. He ends up on the Steelers.

That was one of the suitors. The Bucks having the season that they had. I mean, if the Falcons win two more games and they win division instead, do the Bucks really do this with Baker Mayfield? Maybe they're the team trading for Justin Fields.

So a lot of other external things that didn't quite line up the way that they need. But on the other hand, I think the Bears also kind of did a bad job of negotiating this market. It seemed like the cat was out of the bag at the combine pretty fast that they were going to draft Caleb Williams, which just torpedoes the value that you're going to get for Justin Fields, because everybody knows you're not going to hang on to him anyway. So if we all play hardball, you're probably just going to cut him.

And then I don't have to give you any draft picks. Right. So I think that maybe there was a mistake there in terms of what they chose to leak and not to leak at the combine, which is an experience thing.

Right. Ryan Paul is the new GM. I think the Vikings have made similar mistakes with their new GM, nothing to freak out too much about. But hey, at the end of the day, they'll get what they can get for him and he'll go compete with somebody. And there's a lot of different ways for it to go.

And it's really hard to judge in the middle of everything being like very much a work in progress. Yes, for sure. So Luke, with your wedding on the horizon, will you be taking a honeymoon or do you have to wait for some other time considering how active the NFL is in the spring? Well, luckily this time's out.

Okay. That will be able to take the honeymoon a couple of weeks after the wedding, which will be right after the draft. So you and I might be doing honeymoons at the same time as yours in early May.

It is in early May. What hemisphere are you going to be in? Well, we're going to Hawaii, so we're still going to be in the Western hemisphere, but we're going a little further. We're going a little further across the Pacific. We're going to Australia and Tahiti.

Yeah. Now, are you going to be able to go all that time without checking football notes? I will be begging to go all that time without checking anything on football.

I'm hanging everything up and we're relaxing on the beach. It's going to be great. I hear that. I hear that.

I cannot wait for two weeks of absolutely no sports. Really excited. Congratulations to you.

You can find Luke on Twitter at Luke Braun NFL. He's got Locked on Vikings, a new podcast out before you know it as the news is ever changing. It's always good to catch up with you. Congratulations and we'll talk again soon. Thanks.

Congrats to you as well. Old Man Winter here. If I had it my way, it would stay winter all year long, short days, wind chill, black ice, and a good polar vortex.

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