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Mond and Mannion didn't do enough to beat Mullens for No. 2 QB job, O'Connell says

EAGAN, Minn. — When the Vikings made a late-in-the-preseason trade for Raiders’ backup quarterback Nick Mullens, it became clear either Kellen Mond or Sean Mannion was going to be out of a job. 

But when cutdown day came on Tuesday, the Vikings released both quarterbacks, handing the No. 2 spot to Mullens and leaving Mond and Mannion to seek other opportunities in Cleveland and Seattle, respectively.

At a press conference Thursday, Head coach Kevin O’Connell said he laid the situation out to his two backup quarterbacks months ago.



“I told both those guys, just understand, you guys are not just competing with one another,” he said Thursday. “I had them both in my office at one point and told them that I want somebody to win the job, not just the competition between the other.”

It was a true competition between the two. They split reps nearly evenly throughout training camp and the preseason. Both failed to impress, with Mannion failing to throw a preseason touchdown and Mond completing just 57% of his passes.

It sounds as if the Vikings hoped to keep one of them on the practice squad, but both decided to seek less purple pastures instead.

“[Mond’s] got a heck of a football journey ahead of him. I’m a big fan of how Kellen works, I’m a big fan of the human being and I think he’s got all the things you look for in an NFL quarterback,” O’Connell said, but admitted he just wasn’t ready to be the primary backup.

“You can put a lot of pressure on a player if he’s not ready, and in my personal opinion, I still think Kellen’s got tremendous upside,” O’Connell said. “But to ask him to be that No. 2 QB, being a snap away on a team that we feel very strongly about competing in, I don’t think that was fair to Kellen.”

The head coach shared less about Mannion’s future, but did note the contrast between where he and Mond are at in their careers.

“Even though maybe at times it might not have felt that he needed equal reps as a guy you’re trying to develop, I think it’s fair in a new offense to give that guy the opportunity to compete,” he said.

While Mullens has been with the team only a short time, he must have shown enough to win the job outright. A more stacked résumé doesn’t hurt, either.

“Obviously knowing the player, knowing the makeup, knowing just the type of work ethic and then the 17 games that he’s played and the impact he had on those teams, not always in the most ideal situations able to compete, able to show his skillset and his traits of how he’ll fit into what we do,” O’Connell said. “I’m really fired up to have Nick here and will continue to be excited about that.”

The Vikings could have kept three quarterbacks on the roster, but general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said it was purely a numbers game.

“You’re trying to prepare for this 17-week war that we’ve got coming, and you don’t know what’s gonna show up later and you just ultimately gotta do the best you have with the information you gave at the time,” he said. “We’re currently looking at different options for the third quarterback and ultimately you’ll see that decision when we make it.”

One thing is clear: O’Connell, at least, is confident in his No. 1 quarterback, Kirk Cousins.

“He’s the leader of that room, he’s the leader of the offense,” O’Connell said. “I don’t want to provide any breaking news but he received a lot of votes to become a captain.”

With Cousins having missed only two games since joining the Vikings, the ballyhoo over the backup may be moot. But the Vikings are making a bet on Mullens, and given the importance of the position, the stakes are high.

“I do feel like we did what was in the best interest of giving us a chance to win football games,” O’Connell said.

Source: CBS Minnesota

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