The Minnesota Vikings have been eyeing a championship for years. In 2017, the Vikings reached the NFC Championship Game with Case Keenum under center. They felt they were just one player away and that led to one of the most criticized signings in recent memory.
The Vikings and Kirk Cousins agreed to a three-year, $84 million contract in 2018. After two strong seasons in Minnesota with 56 touchdowns compared to 16 interceptions, Cousins signed a three-year extension to remain in the purple and gold. He led the Vikings to the playoffs in 2019 and picked up a win in New Orleans.
Minnesota is hoping that Cousins can bring the team it’s first Super Bowl championship. If that happens, he will end up on this list, but here are the top five quarterbacks in franchise history at the moment.
5. Brad Johnson
Johnson was selected in the ninth round of the 1992 NFL Draft. He served as a backup during his first to years in the league. In 1996, Johnson stepped in for an injured Warren Moon and earned the starting job.
Johnson threw 17 touchdowns and went 5-3 as a starter in his third season. In 1997, Johnson finished with 20 touchdowns and went 8-5 in 13 starts. Johnson’s 1998 campaign was cut short due to an injury. After spending time in Tampa Bay and Washington, Johnson returned to Minnesota in 2005 where he went 7-2 as a starter.
Johnson currently ranks fifth in franchise history with 11,098 yards and touchdowns with 58. He ended his Vikings’ career with a quarterback record of 28-18.
4. Warren Moon
Moon made a name for himself in Houston as a six time Pro Bowler. He led the league in completions, attempts, and passing yards twice along with touchdowns once. Moon added two Pro Bowl seasons in Minnesota beginning in 1994.
The Vikings did not win a playoff game with Moon under center but he did see some incredible individual success. The 1994 season ended with a disappointing first round loss to the Chicago Bears. Moon followed that up with his best season in a Vikings’ uniform. He threw for 4,228 yards with 33 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Despite the strong season from Moon, Minnesota went just 8-8. He would go onto miss half of the 1995 season with an injury.
Moon would spent two years in Seattle then Kansas City to end his career. He spent just three years in Minnesota and played 39 games, but he is one of six quarterbacks in team history with over 10,000 passing yards.
3. Tommy Kramer
Kramer arrived in Minnesota in 1977 and started just one game in his first two years. He was named the full-time starter in 1979 and played all 16 games. This was the only time in his career that happened due to many injuries.
The Vikings used their first round pick in 1977 on Kramer. The Rice product was an extremely talented prospect but he was never able to reach his ceiling. Kramer still ranks second all time in Vikings’ history with 24,775 yards and 159 touchdowns. He started 14 or more games over his first three years as a starter and eclipsed 3,300 yards in each season.
The team was going through a rough patch when Kramer arrived to town. He immediately made the team better but they could not get over the .500 mark. Kramer made one Pro Bowl appearance in his career. In 1986, he finished with 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns compared to just 10 interceptions. Unfortunately, he missed the 1987 postseason with yet another injury.
Kramer is a player that is thought of highly around the franchise, but it could have been more special. He was the second quarterback taken in 1977 and despite coming from a small school, was viewed as a high prospect. Kramer lands on the list because of his current ranks within the franchise.
2. Daunte Culpepper
The 1999 NFL Draft saw five quarterbacks go in the first round. Culpepper was the fourth one selected behind Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, and Akili Smith. Minnesota made Culpepper the 11th overall pick despite doubts from fans and certain teammates.
Dennis Green believed in the Central Florida product and he seemed like a genius when Culpepper was named a Pro Bowler in his second season. He led the league with 33 touchdown passes and the Vikings finished 11-5. Culpepper would go over 3,400 yards in four of his first five seasons as the full time starter. He added two more Pro Bowl appearances in 2003 and 2004.
In 2004, Culpepper led the league in completions with 379 and passing yards with 4,717. He added 39 touchdowns and threw just 11 interceptions. He had the luxury of throwing to one of the top receivers of all time. The Vikings traded away Randy Moss after the 2004 season and Culpepper took a visible step back. He started seven games in 2005 and threw six touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Culpepper ranks second in franchise history in almost all major passing categories. He was a player with a huge arm that made some exciting plays in a Vikings’ uniform.
1. Fran Tarkenton
There is no doubt about the No. 1 name on this list. Tarkenton was a third round pick of the Vikings and was an impact player right away. He spent two tenures in Minnesota that totaled 13 years and made double-digit starts 12 times.
Tarkenton was an impact player right away. He was using his legs to make plays long before mobility was expected as a quarterback. As a Viking, Tarkenton made five Pro Bowls and was named First Team All-Pro once. In 1975, Tarkenton led the league in completions (273), attempts (425), and passing touchdowns (25).
Tarkenton’s second stint with the Vikings began in 1972. He played the final seven years of his career in purple and gold and made six playoff appearances. The Vikings made three Super Bowl appearances with Tarkenton under center but were never able to win the final game of the season. He was a big reason why Minnesota was a dominant force in the 1970’s, along with the Purple People Eaters.
The Vikings’ passing records are dominated by Tarkenton. He threw for 33,098 yards and 239 touchdowns. Tarkenton is also the franchise leader for rushing yards by a quarterback. Tarkenton was a quarterback that could have found success in any decade. His skill set was wide and one that changed the game.