The Downside of a Trey Lance Trade

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of news tidbits arrived this week involving Trey Lance — that also evidently apply to the Minnesota Vikings by proxy.

The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly open to trading the 22-year-old, and wouldn’t you know it? The Vikings may be looking for a quarterback to replace Kirk Cousins in 2024.

The Downside of a Trey Lance Trade

The fun started Wednesday with a tweet from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, “Sources: The 49ers have received inquiries from several teams looking into a potential trade for former No. 3 pick QB Trey Lance. The conversations have been the result of SF fielding the calls, not making them, with teams aware that Brock Purdy is likely the future starter.”

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

The following day, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported, “Per a league source, the two teams [Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers] talked about Trey Lance. The source doesn’t know whether that’s currently happening. The Vikings have since restructured the Cousins contract. They’d take a significant cap hit ($38 million) if the Vikings traded Cousins before June 1. But the Vikings need an answer for 2024, and beyond. It’s unclear whether they truly think Lance could be the answer.”

And just like that — Vikings fans have a rekindled Trey Lance rumor mill, a collection of theories that has twisted in the shadows for about three months. The 49ers might be firm in their commitment to the upstart Brock Purdy while hedging the bet with veteran Sam Darnold, who joined the club via free agency in March.

The working theory would suggest that Lance could become a “distraction” if left on the depth chart, especially because San Francisco traded the farm for his services less than two years ago. If the 49ers started the season 2-3 or so this autumn, fans might skewer Purdy and demand Lance — and so the back-and-forth saga could go.

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell capitalized Thursday by finding a way via mock draft to trade Lance to the Vikings with this hypothetical exchange of assets:

  • Vikings get: QB Trey Lance, 3-102, 6-216 (from SF), 2-63 (from PHI)
  • 49ers get: 1-23, QB Nick Mullens (from MIN)
  • Eagles get: 3-99, 3-101 (from SF), 2025 fourth-round pick (from MIN)

And here’s the deal: adding Lance as an affordable, low-risk plan for life after Cousins is great. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah should seriously entertain it.

There’s a downside, however — by the time the Vikings “need” Lance for QB1 duty in 2024, he will not have filled consistent QB1 duty in five years. That’s right. Lance hasn’t been the QB1 centerpiece of an offense since 2019 at North Dakota State. He didn’t play much in the COVID year, 2020, and barely impacted the 49ers offense in 2021 and 2022.

The Downside of a
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Additionally, he won’t be needed as the Vikings franchise passer until September 2024. The Vikings would have a tricky time trading Cousins this offseason — especially during the NFL draft or before June 1st, in general — so No. 8 likely gets one more crack at glory in Minnesota this season.

Lance would become the Vikings QB1 savior for life after Cousins — and would just so happen to be a guy who hadn’t played a season’s worth of football since 2019.

2019 to 2024 is a long break.

Would you trust this as a solution at the sport’s most important position?

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

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