The NFL’s Top 5 QB Trade Targets (and The Vikings’ Shot at Jumping into the Action)

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Constructing a top 5 QB trade board is doomed to fail, at least to a certain extent. After all, the NFL is an inherently unpredictable place.

Go ahead and journey back to the beginning of the 2023 regular season. Did anyone in Minnesota predict seeing Joshua Dobbs (originally a Cardinal) using his legs to pickup a crucial first down with Cam Akers (originally a Ram) as the lead blocker in Week 9? Or who would have guessed that starting at 1-4 and then losing Justin Jefferson to the IR would have sparked … five-straight wins.

Opponent Is a Cautionary
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The examples abound, folks. The point is simply that football and the league it’s housed in – the NFL – lends itself to unpredictability. And, to be sure, that’s a good thing, a major reason why the sport continues to inspire, intrigue, and impress.

All of these thoughts aside, can we still put together a list of the league’s most tradable QBs? Better yet, can we even begin exploring the potential fit in Minnesota? After all, Kirk Cousins is careening toward free agency, so any and all options seem possible as of Friday, February 16th.

The NFL’s Top 5 QB Trade Targets

Without a hierarchical arrangement, consider at least some of the NFL QBs who could plausibly be acquired via trade:

  1. Justin Fields, Bears
  2. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
  3. Mac Jones, Patriots
  4. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
  5. Daniel Jones, Giants

The players all have something in common: each one is a 1st-round selection and most are still operating on their rookie deals (with Giant Jones being the exception). For various reasons, things look a bit precarious for these quarterbacks in their current location.

Fields, for instance, is working under a leadership regime that didn’t draft him. Even more concerning for his chances of continuing to call Illinois home is that Chicago is fully in control of the Caleb Williams sweepstakes.

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Mac Jones has majorly regressed since his promising debut season. Apparently, some have even suggested Minnesota is a potential fit.

Tua played well in 2023 but not well enough for some. Not too long after Miami’s playoff defeat, Mike Sando leaned on anonymous NFL execs to explore the possibility of Mike McDaniel looking elsewhere for a QB1 (a conversation that gets brought around to … Kirk Cousins).

Pickett is supported by high-end skill in Pittsburgh but has struggled to take flight. Meanwhile, the marriage between New York and Mr. Jones seems a bit less secure than last offseason when a major contract got handed over. With the No. 6 pick, does New York make a move for a new quarterback? If so, what does that mean for the man who marched into U.S. Bank Stadium as an underdog before walking out as a victor?

The 13 Notable Folks Picking
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Truth be told, the Vikings are still likely to bring Kirk Cousins back. The GM and HC want him to return; the QB also wants to return. Finding some sort of middle ground for compensation will be the key to seeing the connection continue.

And, no doubt, re-signing Cousins does not eliminate the possibility of drafting a passer high in the 2024 NFL Draft. Some may even think that doing both is preferable. Let the veteran lockdown the competitive component of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s competitive rebuild while the youngster learns behind a great vet, thus rebuilding the QB position on the fly.

Buyer Beware
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Imagine a not-too-distant future, though, where Cousins walks in free agency. Do the Vikings feel comfortable bringing in a bridge veteran and/or waiting until the draft for more help? Yes, Nick Mullens has some sneaky ability and we can’t write off Jaren Hall, but one has to assume Adofo-Mensah would at least pick up the phone to consider his options on the trade market.

And as wild as the possibility is, trading for Justin Fields is the option that would make the most sense. Only 24 and still improving, Fields could get grafted into the Vikings’ roster as the new QB1, instantly giving Kevin O’Connell’s offense a totally different dynamic.

Maybe Chicago wouldn’t do business with a division rival, especially since we’re discussing a young quarterback with the potential to be great, but Kwesi isn’t afraid of being bold. Just go back to his pair of trades with the Lions and the trade with the Packers for examples.

So while the chances aren’t particularly high that the QB opening gets filled via trade, the Vikings can’t be counted out. The GM isn’t afraid of controversial decisions and has shown an affinity for onboarding young, highly-drafted players who may thrive with a change of scenery. Crucially — don’t miss this point — Adofo-Mensah likes to leave himself with several potential paths as he journeys into an uncertain future. He’ll be more than willing to entertain all of his options — keep Cousins, sign a different veteran, trade for talent, draft a player with upside — when it comes to filling the quarterback opening.

Free agency gets going on March 11th. The Vikings are sitting on a bit below $25 million in cap space.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.