When I saw that Kevin Zeitler was a possible candidate for trade, my interest was peaked. Zeitler is one of the premier right guards in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus he was the number one rated guard in pass blocking, and number six overall. Cleveland did draft Austin Corbett with the 1st pick in the second round of last year’s draft, and have a guard on the other side in Joel Bitonio. So, Cleveland shipping out the 29-year-old Zeitler makes some sense, even if he would cost them a bit of cap. If Zeitler was moved, he would be under control of his new team through 2021.
The Vikings certainly need help on the line and have assets that they could move. Trae Waynes has been suggested as a trade candidate. Cleveland’s pass defense was middle-of-the-road last season and Waynes could help shore that up. Waynes is on his last year of his rookie deal and would hit the open market after next season where he will almost certainly be offered CB 1 money, something that the Vikings don’t have the flexibility to match with so many other core players locked up. If Waynes is in Cleveland already, he could be paid a boat load of money to be their guy. The Browns certainly have the cap space.
It might seem that the ideal situation for Minnesota would be to retain Waynes and move an older player like Everson Griffen, and perhaps a late round pick. However, Cleveland is trying to remain young so the 31-year-old pass rusher wouldn’t be great bait for trade. Also, with Myles Garrett already on the roster, they may feel they have no need for another edge player. Cleveland also doesn’t need help at the tight end position either. David Njoku is a young tight end who is only 22, and is looking to grow into a true difference maker at the position. So that leaves Kyle Rudolph out as a possible piece of the trade.
Waynes being moved for Zeitler might actually be a blessing for all parties involved. Waynes gets the chance to get paid and be a CB1 on a team with a bunch of young talent. The Vikings receive a very good piece at a position of need, and retain that piece for several years. Also, with Zeitler being 29 already he may be undervalued by Cleveland and they may even be persuaded to part with more draft capitol, even though 29 is not old for a guard, unless injuries get in the way.