The 3 Longtime Vikings Who Could Be Traded

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Let’s get you caught up on the Minnesota Vikings offseason.

The team hired Brian Flores as defensive coordinator on Monday and will make a decision on extending — or not extending — Kirk Cousins’ contract in the next five weeks. Those are the first two mammoth dominos of the offseason, beyond the shadow of a doubt.

The 3 Longtime Vikings Who Could Be Traded

Then, these are the franchise’s free agents scheduled to hit the open market on March 15th:

  • Kris Boyd (CB)
  • Garrett Bradbury (C)
  • Blake Brandel (OT)
  • Jonathan Bullard (DL)
  • Andrew DePaola (LS)
  • Ben Ellefson (TE)
  • Bisi Johnson (WR)
  • Greg Joseph (K)
  • Alexander Mattison (RB)
  • Nick Mullens (QB)
  • Patrick Peterson (CB)
  • Austin Schlottman (C)
  • Duke Shelley (CB)
  • Irv Smith (TE)
  • Dalvin Tomlinson (DT)
  • Khyiris Tonga (NT)
  • Chandon Sullivan (CB)
  • Oli Udoh (OT)

Too, these are the possible cap-casualties — men who could be outright released for cap savings:

  • Dalvin Cook (RB)
  • C.J. Ham (FB)
  • Jordan Hicks (LB)
  • Eric Kendricks (LB)
  • Chris Reed (OG)
  • Za’Darius Smith (LB)
  • Adam Thielen (LB)

And with no further adieu, these are the three longtime Vikings players who could be traded.

1. Dalvin Cook

The 3 Longtime Vikings Who
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

2023 Cap Hit = $14.0 million
Cap Savings if Traded pre 6/1 = $7.9 million
Cap Savings if Traded post 6/1 = $11.0 million
Possible Trade Value = 4th- or 5th-Round pick

Cook is only a trade candidate due to the new leadership’s regime philosophy. Normally, general managers who boast an analytics-focused approach to the sport don’t spend big bucks on running backs. It’s the antithesis of the modern way to football operations. If Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer were still in charge, Cook would probably return in 2023. But they are not.

The Vikings could also release cook, allowing him to hit the open market. Hints swirling amid the last week suggest he’s not interested in taking a paycut. And that makes his presence on the 2023 roster a longshot.

2. Danielle Hunter (OLB)

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Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) warms up during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

2023 Cap Hit = $13.1 million
Cap Savings if Traded pre 6/1 = $ -5.7 million (yes, negative)
Cap Savings if Traded post 6/1 = $5.5 million
Possible Trade Value = Late 1st-Round pick or 2nd-Rounder

When Minnesota hired Brian Flores, the likelihood of Hunter maintaining his spot on the Vikings roster spiked. He probably isn’t going anywhere. Flores will need fierce players to effectuate his defense, and Hunter is one of those.

Still, Hunter’s contract is not good for Hunter, and a resolution between the club and the 28-year-old could be traded if he asks for more money than Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is willing to give. And the trade would almost certainly occur in the summer — not before.

Then, Adofo-Mensah would ensure Za’Darius Smith is on the 2023 roster and draft an EDGE rusher in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Round of the NFL Draft as the plan for life after Hunter.

Hunter will likely be back, but a summer trade would be the endgame if contract talks sour.

3. Adam Thielen (WR)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

2023 Cap Hit = $19.9 million
Cap Savings if Traded pre 6/1 = $6.4 million
Cap Savings if Traded post 6/1 = $13.4 million
Possible Trade Value = Late-Round pick

Twenty million dollars is too rich for a soon-to-be 33-year-old wide receiver that tallied 716 receiving yards as the man opposite Justin Jefferson in Kevin O’Connell’s offense. It just is — even for a man beloved like Thielen.

In 2023 and beyond, Jefferson will continue to experience double teams, so the Vikings need a WR2 who can bank 1,000+ yards and act as Jefferson-lite.

Thielen indicated after the 2022 season ended that he can still play at a high level, and if another team comes knocking, the Vikings could realistically trade him for a late-round draft pick this summer.


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.