5 Vikings Players Who Could Still Be Traded

There Is a Dalvin Cook Plot Twist
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NFL free agency hits week No. 3, and most of the Minnesota Vikings transformative pre-draft roster building is complete.

But a handful of players could still be on the move via trade, especially because the Vikings have just five draft picks in Kansas City this April.

5 Vikings Players Who Could Still Be Traded

Ranked in ascending order of probability, these are five Vikings players who could still be dealt elsewhere.

5. Kirk Cousins (QB)

5 Vikings Players Who
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There’s probably about a 95% chance of Kirk Cousins starting Week 1 for the Vikings in 2023. But what about the other 5%?

Well, because Cousins’ contract was not extended — it should’ve happened by now if it were going to happen at all — the franchise seems to be plotting the future at QB1 without Cousins. If general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah makes a splash on draft night with a seismic trade up the board, compensation from a theoretical Cousins trade could be used to offset the price of the deal.

And with free agency two weeks underway, only about four teams would entertain Cousins as QB1 in 2023 — the New York Jets (if the Aaron Rodgers saga flops), San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, and perhaps Baltimore Ravens (if the Vikings really do hop on the Lamar Jackson train).

A Cousins trade is unlikely, but the NFL is unpredictable. Remember that.

4. Ezra Cleveland (LG)

7 Wild and Crazy
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Ezra Cleveland wants to be paid relatively soon. Minnesota must ask itself internally if he’s worth a large-ish contract. He’s a steady run-blocker and a meh pass-protection asset, which summarizes virtually every Vikings guard and center from the last half-decade.

Adofo-Mensah could flip Cleveland to an OL-needy for a mid-round draft pick and sign Dalton Risner from free agency as early as today. The idea isn’t dumb.

3. Danielle Hunter (OLB)

Cut Danielle Hunter
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If you care, Danielle Hunter is underpaid. Compared to his EDGE rusher peers, he deserves a better contract.

For context, a Hunter trade likely wouldn’t occur until summer for financial reasons. But if Minnesota isn’t interested in offering the 28-year-old a long-term and fat contract, the LSU alumnus could be shipped to a different team for a 2nd- or 3rd-Round draft pick — probably from the 2024 draft.

Then, the Vikings would lean into the recently-signed Marcus Davenport for EDGE duty while hoping for a kumbaya with Za’Darius Smith, who tweeted his plans to leave the Vikings seventeen days ago. Otherwise, Adofo-Mensah could pair Davenport with third-year pass rusher Patrick Jones and hope for the best — or draft an EDGE rusher early in next month’s draft.

Long story short: if Hunter’s contract extension talks sour, a trade isn’t crazy.

2. Za’Darius Smith (OLB)

Strange Name Becomes
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Mentioned above, Smith said goodbye to the Vikings and the team’s fans on March 9th. Then, he wasn’t released, nor has he been traded.

He could reverse course and return to the Vikings, but if Hunter and Davenport are the 2023 EDGE duo, where does Smith fit? A trade is likely nearing for the 30-year-old, and Adofo-Mensah can probably snatch a 4th-Rounder or so for his services.

Trading Smith is more likely than not as of March 25th.

1. Dalvin Cook (RB)

Nearing Divorce
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You should actually expect Dalvin Cook to be traded before or during the 2023 NFL Draft. This one is not a longshot like Cousins, Cleveland, or Hunter.

If Cook is a Viking in 2023, the analytics-focused general manager will pay an RB room about $20 million. That’s not something “the analytics” endorse. It’s actually quite silly, considering teams with high-paid running backs never win Super Bowls.

The Vikings might’ve had a Cook trade in the making that was thwarted by a physical. There are rumblings hinting at the theory. Before or during the draft, Cook is among the leading candidates for a Vikings trade. Watch for the Buffalo Bills or Atlanta Falcons as trade dance partners.

Oddly, Minnesota would enter a season sans an Adrian Peterson or Dalvin Cook for the first time since 2006 if Cook is traded.

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 OverTheCap.com.