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The Minnesota Vikings said goodbye to Kirk Cousins early Monday, with the six-year starter agreeing to sign with the Atlanta Falcons. Early Tuesday, the team found a potential successor, agreeing to a one-year contract with former San Francisco 49ers backup Sam Darnold, according to NFL Media.

Darnold, 26, can earn up to $10 million on the deal. Originally drafted No. 3 overall by the New York Jets in 2018, he enters with 56 games of starting experience, as well as a personal connection to new Vikings quarterbacks coach Josh McCown. The two were teammates in the Jets' quarterback room during Darnold's rookie season.

What does Darnold's signing mean for the Vikings' quarterback plans post-Cousins? For now, the ex-Jets prospect is the favorite to take over as the starter, if only because he's got the edge in experience. Darnold had long been speculated as a potential Plan B for the Vikings in the event of Cousins' departure, and at 26, despite already playing for three teams in six NFL seasons, he's flashed when healthy, notably going 4-2 with seven touchdowns and a 92.6 passer rating for the Carolina Panthers in 2022.

Darnold has gone just 17-32 in his other starts, though, logging a career rating of 78.3 and completion % of 58.9 in short-lived stops in New York and Carolina. He settled for a one-year backup role with the 49ers, serving as Brock Purdy's No. 2, in 2023.

Most likely, Darnold is simply the first dart throw at a position that'll require several investments from general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. His reported maximum earning of $10 million would still register as high-end backup money, falling just behind the average annual take of new Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Gardner Minshew. And the Vikings own the No. 11 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, where it's possible they could either stand pat or trade up to add a quarterback of the future.

Cousins' exit, though unsurprising, has finally enabled the Vikings to take a longer-term view at the position, and history shows it often takes multiple swings at multiple players in multiple avenues to identify a true face of the franchise.