The Caleb Williams Sweepstakes Just Became Very Real for Vikings

Jordan Addison Says
USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) during the pregame warmup before playing the Arizona State Sun Devils at Mountain America Stadium in Tempe on Sept. 23, 2023. © Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings 2023 season has not unfolded as planned, at least per fans’ expectations, situated in a last-place NFC North tie through five weeks.

The Caleb Williams Sweepstakes Just Became Very Real for Vikings

Minnesota has lost its first three home games, a first-of-its-kind phenomenon with fans in attendance since 1972.

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And suddenly, the Vikings are nibbling at the Caleb Williams Sweepstakes, which seemed farcical about six weeks ago.

Here’s how and why.

Justin Jefferson to IR

The Caleb Williams
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NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted Tuesday morning, “The Vikings plan to place WR Justin Jefferson on injured reserve because of the hamstring injury he suffered in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City, per sources. The exact timeline is TBD based on how he responds to treatment. But Jefferson is out at least four games.”

Jefferson will now hit the shelf until at least November 6th and probably longer if the Vikings haven’t put wins in box scores during his absence. Why would the club rush him back with, for example, a 2-8 or 3-7 record?

Sans Jefferson, the Vikings offense will become an experiment on the fly, and if it doesn’t go swimmingly, losses will continue to stockpile, intensifying the odds of Minnesota in the Caleb Williams Sweepstakes.

1-4 Record thru 5 Games

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Minnesota Vikings
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Listen, Minnesota wasn’t winning with Jefferson in the lineup. Will it really magically start without the NFL’s best wide receiver?

The blueprint for a fancy high 1st-Round draft pick has already been scribbled. The Vikings 1-4 record suggests a Top 5 pick is on the way, and the theory has new legs with Jefferson missing four-plus games. If the 2024 NFL Draft were held tonight, the Vikings would pick fourth — a hop, skip, and jump away from trading to the spot needed to draft Williams — or Drake Maye if he’s your fighter.

QB Is Hurt, Too

Vikings Fill Quarterback Opening With an Old Friend
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ESPN’s Kevin Seifert tweeted Monday afternoon, “Kevin O’Connell also said the Vikings are considering options for backup QB Nick Mullens, who was inactive Sunday because of back stiffness, and mentioned the possibility of a roster move later this week. Translated: They’re trying to decide whether to put him on IR.”

If Kirk Cousins is traded, injured, or benched, Minnesota could be faced with handing the QB1 scepter to rookie 5th-Rounder Jaren Hall, which would probably hint at a tank-off or fire sale around the bend.

Mullens’ possible IR stint alongside Jefferson only thickens the plot.

Cousins’ Expiring Contract

NFL: Preseason-Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
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The Vikings employ the NFL’s leader in touchdown passes, who just so happens to be scheduled for free agency in five months. There’s a puncher’s chance for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to trade Cousins to the New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, or Pittsburgh Steelers, especially if the Vikings have a nasty record like 1-7 by the Halloween trade deadline.

No matter what happens, 2023 is truly shaping up like Cousins’ final in purple clothing.

At CHI, vs. SF, at GB up Next

49ers WR Not Impressed by Vikings Joint Practices
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Finally — the schedule.

Yes, the Vikings could “go on a run” without Jefferson because Minnesota has a history of producing the unexpected. Yet, will that really happen at Soldier Field and Lambeau Field, with the NFL’s best team sandwiched in between? Be honest with yourself when answering that question. Can the Jefferson-less Vikings win games at two dreaded venues, and oh, by the way, hand the 49ers their first regular season loss of the Christian McCaffrey era?

In an almost unbelievable twist of fate, the Vikings could be 1-7 by the end of the month — also known as glowingly prime real estate for the Caleb Williams Sweepstakes.

The Vikings 2023 season is breaking bad. And it’s not a cool TV show.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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