Vikings Linked to Rival QB — Why They Shouldn’t Acquire Him

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota has turned into Rumorville in the last few weeks, with Kirk Cousins’ pending free agency around the corner. The purple team has been linked to various quarterbacks in the draft and those already in the league. There’s a new addition to the club, joining the likes of Jimmy Garappolo, Russell Wilson, and Zach Wilson.

Vikings Linked to Rival QB — Why They Shouldn’t Acquire Him

Vikings Linked to Rival QB -- Why They Shouldn't Acquire Him
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

That most recent person to arrive in Rumorville is Justin Fields, quarterback of the Chicago Bears, at least until they spend their first overall pick on his successor, presumable USC’s star passer Caleb Williams.

It doesn’t make much sense to keep Fields if the Bears want to select a new signal-caller. Trading Fields is the likely outcome to cash in an extra draft pick before he leaves in free agency next season.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler named the Vikings as his potential destination in his latest shared insider piece with Dan Graziano:

The major quarterback domino that many are waiting to fall is Chicago’s Justin Fields decision. Chicago has not played its hand, and several league sources believe Fields — who has not requested a trade — could probably garner a Day 2 pick in a potential deal. There’s no firm deadline on a trade, though the start of free agency is sort of a soft one. Chicago will need multiple teams in the fray to drive a market, and after asking around, I expect Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and Minnesota to be on Fields’ radar.

Curveball for Danielle
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Fields has been a controversial player in his three seasons in the league as he is up and down. His best games look like he is someone on the brink of breaking out and entering the MVP conversation, while his worst games, which are more frequent, show a player who is about to be benched.

Everyone knows about his ability to run the football. He offers 4.4 speed and is one of the most dynamic running quarterbacks of all time, racking up 2,220 yards and 14 touchdowns in three campaigns. One thousand one hundred forty-three of those yards and 8 scores came in 2022.

However, Fields is a subpar passer. While improving in the second half of the 2023 season, he still hasn’t eclipsed 3,000 passing yards or 20 passing touchdowns in a single season. He has tabulated only 6,674 yards and 40 TDs in 40 games (38 starts).

His tape shows a combination of inaccuracy, slow and wrong reads, and bad decision-making. A common point of criticism is his tendency to hold the ball too long and his preference to run the ball when his first read is covered.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

That makes him a poor solution for the Vikings, as Kevin O’Connell’s offense requires a different skill set. As seen when Dobbs-mania slowed down, the Vikings need someone who can make the right reads at the right time and is willing to throw the ball at least 30 times per game to feature all of the dynamic weapons. Nick Mullens could push the ball down the field, but Dobbs was not. While Fields is a vastly superior player, his skill set is closer to Dobbs’.

Another problem is Fields’ contract. The acquiring team can pick up his fifth-year option to have him under contract for two seasons, but if he is working out, he would require an expensive deal in one year. As Justin Jefferson is expected to sign a lucrative contract, perhaps becoming the highest-paid non-QB in the league, paying Fields a significant salary would create the same problem a Cousins extension would bring. It is a lot of money spent on just two players, and having a cheap rookie quarterback for multiple years is more intriguing.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

One more issue could be the NFC North rivalry. If the Bears think Fields could turn into a Pro Bowl quarterback, they would be foolish to send him to a divisional foe. Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has traded within the division before, but the Bears would surely prefer a different franchise just in case Fields does reach his ceiling.

Acquiring a 25-year-old running quarterback who doesn’t fit the scheme and has struggled to stay healthy would be quite the risk. O’Connell would be asked to change his philosophy drastically, but throwing the ball to Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson is still paramount. Fields is a talented player, and a deal would have some upside, but it doesn’t feel like the move for the Vikings, who will be in the market for a rookie quarterback in April’s draft.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt