Dissecting an Off-the-Wall, Weird Possibility in the Vikings’ QB of the Future Rumors
Kirk Cousins looks to have a good chance of coming back as the Vikings’ QB. So, too, does an opening-round QB seem possible. And what happens if Jaren Hall shines in Week 17 and 18 (and, dare we say it, maybe even into the postseason)?
Any of these QBs — Cousins, the high pick, Hall — could theoretically become the 2024 starter for the Vikings.
And, to be sure, those aren’t the only ideas percolating in the collective mind of the curious masses. Nay, there have been other ideas. Dustin Baker recently spoke about a trio of those ideas in his reflections on Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, and Gardner Minshew.
One name that doesn’t get tossed around nearly as much, if at all, is Justin Fields.
Chicago’s current starter certainly appears to be a long shot in Minnesota. After all, the only way he could get to Minnesota is if Chicago decides to trade him to their division rival (a cut isn’t happening). Seems like a small chance, doesn’t it? Why the insistence, then, that Fields is a name that’s at least worth mentioning?
The Vikings’ QB in 2024 and a Wacky Theory
Good chance the Bears are nearing the day when they’ll move on from Justin Fields.
Very wisely, Chicago GM Ryan Poles traded away the 1st overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. Doing so brought D.J. Moore to Illinois while equipping Poles with a hearty pick haul: a 1st and 2nd in 2023, a 1st in 2024, and a 2nd in 2025. As of right now, Carolina’s opening-round selection is going to come in at 1st overall. Do the Bears opt for Caleb Williams?
Doing so would signal the end for Fields in Chicago. And while the 11th pick in the 2021 Draft is unlikely to demand a 1st-round selection, seeing something in the 2nd won’t be surprising.
The acquiring team would be getting a 6’3″, 228-pound QB who is arguably the preeminent running threat from the quarterback position. He rushed for 1,143 yards and 8 TDs as a sophomore, sizzling numbers that most running backs would be proud to see attached to their names.
As a passer, Fields leaves a little something to be desired. Fields currently has 2,146 passing yards, 15 TDs, and 9 INTs. He has gotten to those totals while completing 60.9% of his passes (don’t forget: Kevin O’Connell wants his quarterback to be very accurate).
Maybe the most encouraging part of Fields’ passing is that his interception percentage has been decreasing. As a rookie he tossed an INT on 3.7% of his passes but that dipped down to 3.5% as a sophomore. The 2023 season has resulted in 2.8% of his passes being intercepted. For reference, Cousins’ 14 INTs in 2022 only meant a 2.2% INT rate; before injury in 2023, Cousins was down at 1.6%.
Will the positive trend continue as Fields, who is still only 24 (and thus younger than Jaren Hall), gets more NFL reps?
At various points, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has proven that he’s supremely interested in adding players who are old enough to thrive in the present and yet young enough to have several more years ahead of them. Or, put differently, players who fit within his competitive rebuild philosophy.
Plus, he has often shown a desire to give a highly-picked player a second chance. That’s what he did with Jalen Reagor and Ross Blacklock. Oh, and then there was T.J. Hockenson. Minnesota made the bold decision to bring the former top-10 pick to town, a move that has had a massively positive impact in Minnesota’s offense.
And, let’s not forget, Adofo-Mensah has pulled off a pair of other sizable trades with division rivals. His opening draft as Minnesota’s GM led to a Day 1 swap with the Lions and then a Day 2 swap with the Packers. Clearly, Kwesi isn’t afraid of being bold.
So what we have, then, is a franchise that looks likely to trade a young, highly-picked QB to open room for the new regime’s hand-picked franchise quarterback. There will be teams in the NFL willing to ship out draft capital to get Justin Fields into their jersey.
And then on the other end is a franchise that’s staring down a QB crossroads. And while the safe money appears to be on Cousins returning and/or picking a signal caller in the draft, the Vikings look like the kind of team that would be interested. Adofo-Mensah likes young, high-upside players and he isn’t beholden to the prevailing wisdom that doing business within the division is stultifyingly taboo.
Even still, the simple fact that Minnesota and Chicago share a division is likely too much to overcome.
True, Fields has been a touch underwhelming since entering the NFL and yet he has played for some awful Bears teams. Getting inserted in Minnesota’s loaded offense may be precisely what he needs to shine. Can the Bears risk it?
And, of course, there’s the reality that the Vikings’ leadership may not be particularly interested. There were some rumblings that Minnesota tried to trade up to select Justin Fields, but that was with a different group in charge. Do powerful people in Eagan still hold Fields in high regard? If so, is there enough support to cobble together a draft-pick package attractive enough to get him out of The Windy City and into The Gopher State?
Justin Fields is a talented football player. In a different set of circumstances, he may even look like a franchise quarterback. The clock appears to be ticking for his Chicago career, so we can be sure that teams are at least calling about acquiring him. Does Minnesota join the list of teams that are at least picking up the phone?
Minnesota is projected to have nearly $37.3 million in cap space (a number that’s going to grow) and currently has nine selections in the upcoming draft.
With the Rumor Proving True, Vikings Face Grim Reality Going into Week 17
K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.