4 Trade Spots for Vikings OG Ezra Cleveland

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Few offensive guards are better than Ezra Cleveland this season. The veteran lineman ranks 11th leaguewide among all OGs, according to Pro Football Focus, equitably plowing lanes for running backs and protecting Kirk Cousins.

4 Trade Spots for Vikings OG Ezra Cleveland

But Cleveland is playing on the final year of his rookie deal, and the Vikings employ Dalton Risner, who also plays left guard, Cleveland’s starting spot.

In theory, if the Vikings trade players before the NFL’s deadline on October 31st, here’s where Cleveland could land. The teams are listed in alphabetical order.

1. Cincinnati Bengals

4 Trade Spots for Vikings
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) adjusts wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) on the line before a play in the second quarter of the NFL Week 14 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. The Bengals led 13-3 at halftime. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Current Starting LG + PFF Grade: Cordell Volson (46.7)
Current Starting RG + PFF Grade:
Alex Cappa (55.5)

The Bengals are a little like the Vikings — there’s always something uncouth about the offensive line that the team’s leaders can’t seem to solve.

It’s weird.

Cincinnati employs a Top 3 NFL quarterback in Joe Burrow, and solving offensive line woes has been a priority but isn’t wholly remedied. Cleveland would be an instant upgrade over Volson, as most casual NFL fans have never heard of a Cordell Volson.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Current Starting LG + PFF Grade: Tyler Shatley (42.4)
Current Starting RG + PFF Grade:
Brandon Scherff (65.9)

Among ardent NFL fans, Scherff is close to a household name, so Cleveland wouldn’t play right guard if traded to Jacksonville.

But the LG spot is problematic with Shatley’s lowly PFF mark. Cleveland’s nifty 73.8 grade would enhance the Jaguars trenches with the snap of two fingers, and protecting Trevor Lawrence should be the utmost priority.

Interestingly, the Jaguars are reportedly exploring the trade availability of Vikings pass rusher Danielle Hunter. Perhaps general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could make it a package deal.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

Current Starting LG + PFF Grade: Isaac Seumalo (63.8)
Current Starting RG + PFF Grade:
James Daniels (55.9)

The Steelers have one of the worst offensive lines in football per talent, and adding Cleveland to the mix — probably at right guard — might beef things up.

It’s debatable whether Pittsburgh is a genuine contender — probably not — but they won’t underestimate themselves, nor will they roll over and die.

Mike Tomlin’s teams never have a losing record, and trading for Cleveland could help keep Kenny Pickett stay upright during the remainder of his sophomore season.

4. San Francisco 49ers

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Current Starting LG + PFF Grade: Aaron Banks (50.7)
Current Starting RG + PFF Grade:
Spencer Buford (49.5)

The two men in the picture above always seem to make moves in the middle of the season to improve their roster. Last week, the 49ers added Randy Gregory, a cast-off EDGE rusher from the Denver Broncos, for NFL pocket lint.

Almost everything about San Francisco and its roster is dazzling through five weeks, but the offensive line could stand to add some extra juice.

Cleveland could be the juice, and Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah “grew up” in the 49ers organization, meaning the communication pipeline should be wide open. If the Vikings trade Cleveland, Kyle Shanahan and the gang might be the wisest destination for, well, everybody.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.