Kirk Cousins is going to have to win like he's never won before to have any chance of getting another huge payday out of the Vikings.
Little-used career backup Sean Mannion, whose contract expired after two years of posing zero threat to Cousins' future in Minnesota, won't be re-signed. Not after the Vikings used the second pick of the Friday night's third round to select Texas A&M's Kellen Mond as a developmental quarterback who will back up Cousins with an eye toward replacing him and his massive salary in 2023.
"For me, playing in the NFL has been a dream come true since pretty much the age of 2 years old," Mond said. "To get the call from the Vikings was probably one of the best feelings I've ever had."
Mond sensed the Vikings liked his dual-threat skill set and would take him based on his predraft interactions with the team. The Vikings did indeed like him and didn't have to partake in the trading frenzy to go up and get him.
In a second round that saw six trades, including five in the first 11 picks, no quarterbacks were selected until the Buccaneers took Florida's Kyle Trask 64th overall. Two picks later, the Vikings chose Mond one spot ahead of where the Texans took Stanford's Davis Mills, a more highly rated quarterback.
"We were following our board," Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said. "He was one of the top players on our board. It gave us an opportunity to get a young quarterback to come in here for depth. Kellen is going to come in and compete with the other young guys we have on the roster."
Mond's consistency and 59% career completion rate make him a work in progress entering the NFL. But the 6-3, 213-pounder's dual-threat skills, high-draft status and 46 starts against SEC competition make him the first true starter-in-training behind the 33-year-old Cousins.
Of course, the 21-year-old Mond basically has been training for this moment the past 19 years. He attended Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio before transferring to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., to focus on his football future.
"My dad always tells stories about him having me throw the ball at the age of 2," Mond said. "So I feel like I've been preparing for this for the longest time."
Mond came out of IMG ranked as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country. He went to Texas A&M to play for Kevin Sumlin and began to flourish after Jimbo Fisher took over the program in 2018.
"Just having the experience I've had playing in the SEC against the best competition, I think that's going to make a lot easier [learning] curve for me than many other quarterbacks, with the experience that I have," Mond said. "I'm not saying I'm already ready for the NFL, but I'm definitely going to take every opportunity that I have and enjoy every learning experience."
Mond is one of only three SEC quarterbacks to compile more than 9,000 yards passing and 1,500 rushing. The other two were Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott. Mond also threw for a school-record 71 touchdowns while running for 22.
Accuracy is something Mond said he hopes to learn from Cousins, the third-most accurate career passer (67.0%) in NFL history.
"Just being able to grasp information from a guy who's played against the best guys in the whole entire world, I think that's going to be huge for me," Mond said. "Learning from Kirk Cousins is going to be amazing."
Spielman dismissed any notion that Mond comes in competing with Cousins.
"Kirk's our starting quarterback," he said. "There's no competition there."
Not yet, at least.
Cousins is entering his fourth season with the Vikings. He's signed two deals worth $96 million guaranteed. In that time, he's been to the playoffs one time and has one postseason win.
The two-year, $66 million extension he signed before last season now comes with guaranteed salaries the next two seasons, including $35 million in 2022.
Now that the Vikings have invested a high draft pick into a succession plan at QB, Cousins is going to have to win big — perhaps Super Bowl big — to have any shot of sticking around for another huge payday beyond 2022.
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL. E-mail: email@example.com