3 Edge Defenders the Vikings Could Trade For
The trade deadline hits at 4 pm EST on Tuesday, and the Vikings could be in the buyer’s market. The pendulum has swung between whether the Vikings are expected to be buyers or sellers at the deadline.
A win in Green Bay would put them very much in the buyer’s market, while a loss wouldn’t trigger a teardown, but more likely see a decision to stick with what they have and play out the season.
I previously looked at Vikings trade options for players taking the exit door, but now I’m looking at edge defenders the Vikings could trade for, as that’s the position I feel the Vikings are most likely to make a move.
3 Edge Defenders the Vikings Could Trade For
If the Vikings are to make a move before the trade deadline, it will almost certainly be on the defensive side of the ball. The most likely areas Minnesota will want to improve are Edge, IDL, and CB. The injury to Marcus Davenport has thrust Edge into a greater need, and even when he returns, his injury history makes him difficult to trust.
The defensive line has been a need dating back to the offseason, and a case can be made for a big nose tackle and an athletic interior pass rusher being the Vikings biggest need. I think both will be an area the Vikings look at in the offseason, not now. Akayleb Evans has performed well as the CB opposite Byron Murphy, but niggling injuries have reared their ugly head again. We finally got a sighting of Andrew Booth last week which is a promising sign, but more depth to the CB room is worth consideration.
Carolina edge defender Brian Burns is the top edge defender that might be available, but he will be too expensive for the Vikings. He would take a first-round draft pick to pry away from the Panthers, which is something I don’t expect the Vikings to be willing to do. However, there are plenty of options I do think the Vikings have a shot at, should they be in the market.
Chase Young (Washington)
Washington has worked their way into a position where they have two talented edge rushers set to hit free agency at the end of the season. There’s a lot of chatter that they may be willing to trade one of Chase Young or Montez Sweat, but my feeling is Young is the one more likely to be on his way out.
Young (24) was the second overall pick in 2020 and is an extremely talented pass rusher. He is the right age to be the answer for an immediate impact but also for the long term. His career thus far has been slowed by injuries, causing him to miss several games. Other than a neck injury coming into the season which never caused Young to miss time, he has had a clean bill of health this year.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is getting a reputation as a GM who likes to give former high draft picks a new home – Jalen Reagor, Marcus Davenport, Ross Blacklock – but Young would be the most high profile and most expensive to date. It would take at least a second-round pick to acquire Young’s services, and although the Vikings would only be on the hook for half a million dollars for the remainder of his contract this season. This is a move for the long term and a contract extension would not come cheap. Young has six sacks this season, as well as 35 total pressures, 5 QB hits, and a pass-rushing grade from Pro Football Focus of 83.9. If the Vikings consider themselves contenders this is a move to make.
Josh Uche (New England)
Josh Uche is a very interesting name in the trade mill, the Patriots edge defender has a 74.0 pass-rush grade per PFF with two sacks, 17 total pressures, and 3 QB hits this season. Despite an injury to Matthew Judon, Uche still appears to just be a depth play in New England.
That is surprising considering he is coming off a season in 2022 where he had 56 quarterback pressures with 12 sacks on just 285 pass-rush reps. His 19.2% pass-rush win rate last season ranked sixth among edge defenders and his 20.7% pressure rate placed second.
Playing on an expiring contract, interest in Uche unsurprisingly appears to be high. Despite a surprise win over the Bills last week, the Patriots look a long way off contending this year. Accruing draft capital from a player who doesn’t fill a starting role would make sense for new England. Uche’s worth is thought to be a third-round pick, which the Vikings don’t have in 2024. So Adofo-Mensah might have to get creative to seal this deal.
Carl Lawson (New York Jets)
The Jets have a pair of unhappy players discontented with their limited roles on the roster, who appear to be available for trade. Former Vikings RB Dalvin Cook is one, but I don’t forsee a reunion on the cards. Carl Lawson is the other and would be a good addition for the Vikings.
A fourth-round pick back in 2017 for the Bengals, Lawson was named to the PFWA All-Rookie team. He was having an excellent start to his career when he lost his fifth season completely to an Achilles injury. Despite that, he garnered plenty of interest as a free agent last year and made the move to the Jets.
Lawson proved his health last season by playing in all 17 games for the Jets, tallying seven sacks and 24 QB hits in the process. With a full season behind him and feeling stronger, Lawson was excited at the prospect of getting back to his best – see Danielle Hunter ‘s return from his neck injury for the Vikings.
Instead, he has got buried on the depth chart of a stacked Jets defense, playing in just 73 snaps this season. The time would seem right for Lawson to make a move.
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