Vikings Could Be Surprise Suitors for Lamar Jackson

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports.

A budding idea that debuted right after the Minnesota Vikings lost to the New York Giants in the 2022 postseason is back.

It was a fan-driven theory then but has morphed into a semi-credible possibility after one week of free agency — Lamar Jackson possibly landing with the Minnesota Vikings.

Vikings Could Be Surprise Suitors for Lamar Jackson

Kirk Cousins is currently the Vikings expensive QB1 and under contract through one more season, with no extension tacked onto the end of the deal. Somehow, he’d depart the franchise, and Jackson would strut in through the backdoor.

Surprise Suitors
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ESPN Jeremy Fowler recently gave the Jackson-to-Vikings theory legs. He set up the idea, “If for some reason the Aaron Rodgers trade would fall through — nobody expects that — they could pivot to Jackson. And then when you talk about good fits, I asked some executives around the league what teams would make sense. They mention Tennessee, who just cleared some cap space. They have a new GM Ran Carthon, who’s working on the roster. They could use a running quarterback; they have experience with that in the past.”

“And even a wild card like Minnesota. Kirk Cousins has one year left on his contract if they want to reestablish their identity there,” Fowler dropped Minnesota into the sweepstakes.

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The Ravens placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on the 2019 NFL MVP, meaning any team can offer Jackson a contract and would have to pay two 1st-Rounders to Baltimore for his services — while the Ravens front office can match any offersheet. Teams have appeared to shy away from a Jackson contract as doing so would “do all the work” for the Ravens. Most believe Jackson will merely return to Baltimore when it’s all said and done.

So, here’s how this would work:

  1. The Jets trade talks with the Packers sour, and Aaron Rodgers does not go to New York.
  2. The Jets still need a quarterback and pursue Kirk Cousins.
  3. The Vikings get a 1st-Rounder for Cousins to the Jets.
  4. The deal between New York and Minnesota is consummated.
  5. GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah offers Jackson a $50 million-per-year deal.
  6. Minnesota flips that Jets pick and its 23rd overall pick from the upcoming draft to Baltimore.
  7. The deal between Baltimore and Minnesota is consummated.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports.

Otherwise, the Vikings could, in theory, deal directly with the Ravens — excluding the Jets + Rodgers angle — and trade 2023 and 2024 1st-Rounders for Jackson. The Vikings have just shown no interest in such a trade as of March 19th.

The downfalls of the Jackson-to-Vikings theory are threefold:

  1. Jackson’s last two seasons have been muddied by injury. Does the general manager who preaches ‘value’ really want an oft-injured quarterback on his team for $50 million per season?
  2. The Vikings would swallow $48.5 million in dead cap funds moving Cousins now. Yikes.
  3. About 60% of the Vikings salary cap would go toward five players before you know it — Lamar Jackson, Justin Jefferson, Christian Darrisaw, Brian O’Neill, and T.J. Hockenson. Would defense even matter?

Like most trade theses — especially those involving former league MVPs — the swap is unlikely to materialize. But at least one credible pundit in Fowler won’t rule it out.

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).

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