Vikings Labeled ‘Deep Sleeper’ Contender for You Know Who

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Virtually any team in the NFL has a puncher’s chance at landing former league MVP Lamar Jackson this offseason. The phenomenon is rare but somewhat real, with free agency less than a week away.

The Baltimore Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson Tuesday, meaning any team can offer Jackson a juicy contract while Baltimore has an opportunity to match the offer. If they do not, the contract-offering team obtains Jackson for two 1st-Round picks (plus the fat contract).

Vikings Labeled ‘Deep Sleeper’ Contender for You Know Who

And even though the Minnesota Vikings have a quarterback under contract for 2023 to the tune of a $36.3 million cap number, the other purple team is considered a ‘deep sleeper’ to make the deal for Jackson.

vikings labeled
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Jackson’s next contract is expected to fetch $50 million per season, so it is unclear how the Vikings would immediately navigate $50 million to him and $36.3 million to Cousins. But those are apparently details the team can sort out later.

CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin dropped the Vikings into the deep sleeper conversation, along with 11 other suitors, and explained, “They actually make a lot of sense as a deep sleeper. Kirk Cousins proved more resilient than usual under Kevin O’Connell in 2022, but he’s entering a contract year and has proven, with his resume and reputation as an on-schedule play-action pocket passer, that he fits squarely in the NFL’s middle tier of QBs.”

“Amid an overhaul of older, expensive veterans, young GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah feels exactly like the kind of executive to explore an unorthodox shift to a play-maker like Jackson, especially if the price tag is just two first-rounders and Minnesota isn’t well-positioned to draft a top prospect,” Benjamin continued.

CBS Sports Radio Host Wants Lamar Jackson on Vikings
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports.

Indeed, the Vikings own the draft’s 23rd overall pick, a spot not ideal for drafting a rookie quarterback. And that assumes Minnesota is interested in moving on from Cousins, which is conjecture as of March 7th.

Benjamin concluded, “Adofo-Mensah has publicly pondered Cousins’ future in the past, and the Vikings have an elite weapon in Justin Jefferson to pair with such a dynamic QB.”

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Partnering Jackson and Jefferson would undoubtedly be fun, but a money quandary arises with the duo. Jefferson will sign an extension with the Vikings this offseason somewhere in the range of $30-$35 million per season. Couple that figure with Jackson’s $50 million, and that’s 30%-40% of Minnesota’s salary cap wrapped up in two men.

Moreover, Jackson has been injured in each of the last two seasons. In 2021, he wasn’t himself and struggled — nobody really reported it or cared because his reputation is spotless — causing the Ravens to miss the postseason. Then, in 2022, Baltimore reached the postseason, but Jackson couldn’t participate against the Cincinnati Bengals in Round 1 because of another injury. Predictably, the Ravens lost.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports.

A Jackson-Vikings relationship would generate limitless excitement and would probably be a realistic proposition if a) Kirk Cousins didn’t exist b) Justin Jefferson wasn’t about to cash in for a hefty payday c) Kevin O’Connell was a run-first offensive thinker d) Jackson didn’t get hurt all the time.

Benjamin nominated the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Carolina Panthers as the likeliest Jackson suitors if he doesn’t return to Baltimore.

Several teams already [strangely] announced they have no interest in Jackson.


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.

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