The NFL trade deadline is November 1st at 4pm ET, and with that, trade rumors are swirling. The Vikings, at 6-1, are thought to be buyers in the trade market, but just who the Vikings might be willing to make a deal for remains uncertain.
The complicating factor for the Vikings is that they have basically no salary cap to work with, ranking dead last in the NFL in available cap space with around $845K. So, any deal will likely require an offsetting move to free up salary cap space, whether a contract restructuring or release or trade of another player.
Here are some possibilities that make sense given the Vikings’ needs.
The Vikings could use an upgrade at tight end, and with Irv Smith Jr. suffering a high ankle sprain in the Cardinals game, the likelihood that the Vikings trade for a tight-end would seem to be increasing. Here are a couple of potentially available targets:
- Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos. The Broncos and GM George Paton are thought to be in talks regarding a number of players in advance of the trade deadline, and Okweugbunam is one of them. He’s a more likely player to be dealt as well, as he’s not a starter and compensation is not a big issue. A 2020 4th round draft pick, Okweugbunam has good size and speed (6’5”, 258 lbs., 4.49” 40 time, 34 1/8th” arms) that has the speed to win on seam and over routes and in the end zone but could be a better route runner. He’s turned into a good run blocker. He’s a $1 million and change cap hit this year and next. Rumor is that the Broncos have fielded several inquiries for Okwuegbunam.
- Mike Gesecki, Dolphins. Gesecki is perhaps more proven than Okwuegbunam, and the Dolphins are rumored to be accepting trade offers for him. He’s playing on the franchise tag this season and is a $11 million cap hit, which is a very complicating factor for the Vikings. Gesecki has been productive as a pass catcher, but not so much as a blocker and has seen his role reduced in Miami- which is why they may be looking to deal him.
Production at wide receiver beyond Justin Jefferson has been underwhelming, and although the Vikings traded for Jalen Reagor, he has yet to play more than a handful of snaps on offense and Jalen Nailor, another rostered option, has played even less. With Adam Thielen getting older and slower- and no way he remains on the roster at a $20 million cap hit next season- the Vikings could use more talent at wide receiver. KJ Osborn has yet to really make a consistent impact, and his ability to take the lid off a defense is minimal. Here are a couple options:
- Chase Claypool, Steelers. Vikings’ insider and local beat reporter Darren Wolfson has confirmed the Vikings have been in talks with the Steelers regarding Claypool, but as of last week no deal is imminent. Word now is that the Steelers are unlikely to trade Claypool unless they get a really good offer for him. My guess that is something in the neighborhood of a second-round pick. The price is right for Claypool, who is still on his rookie contract, as he’d be just a $673K cap hit this season for the Vikings, and $1.5 million next season. The Vikings would have to see Claypool as a long-term solution at WR however to give up a high pick for him. Claypool is 6’4”, 238 lbs. and ran a 4.42” 40, so ideal physical traits for the position. He’s thought to be a victim of poor quarterbacks the last couple years in Pittsburgh and is now being overshadowed by George Pickens and Diontae Johnson. Personally, paying the Steelers what would be a late 2nd round pick in 2023 for Claypool, who could be a good fit in the Vikings’ receiver group, makes some sense. The Steelers have used Claypool primarily in the slot this season, but he played primarily outside his previous two seasons.
- Jerry Jeudy, Broncos. The Broncos are also reportedly receiving offers for Jeudy, who the Broncos have been dissatisfied with and want to move on. Trading for Jeudy would give the Vikings three first-round wide receivers from the 2020 draft. Jeudy grades as a decent receiver according to PFF but hasn’t been very productive for a first-round, 15th overall pick. Wolfson also reported that the Vikings have looked into the cost for acquiring Jeudy, which may be in the range of a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Like Claypool, Jeudy is thought to have suffered from poor quarterback play.
- Odell Beckham Jr., Free Agent. OBJ would not be a trade acquisition but could be a free agent acquisition at some point later in the season. He suffered a torn ACL in the Super Bowl, and so isn’t likely to see the field until December. But his connections with coaches and players in Minnesota and familiarity with O’Connell’s offense could lead to his joining the Vikings later this season in time for the postseason. He’d be an inexpensive option- especially that late in the season.
- Brandin Cooks, Texans. The Texans are open for business and would love to deal Cooks. They’d have to eat upwards of $25 million in dead cap if they traded him, however, so that would be an obstacle. At 29, Cooks would be a short-term solution and wouldn’t command a lot in draft compensation.
The Vikings worst team ranking in key categories graded by PFF is coverage. The laggards in this category are linebackers, slot corner, and safeties in that order. The Vikings don’t have a slot corner behind Chandon Sullivan, so picking up K’waun Williams from the Broncos to solidify that position and potentially upgrade it, could be a smart move. Williams is already familiar with Ed Donatell’s defense, so won’t need a lot of time to get up to speed. He’s 31, so more of a short-term solution. It’s unclear if the Broncos are willing to deal Williams, but if so, compensation would likely be a Day 3 pick.
I suspect a trade for Okwuegbunam makes sense in a modest deal, and with Irv Smith Jr. likely to miss time and being underwhelming, adding a solid tight end seems like a higher priority for the Vikings.
A trade for Claypool would be more of a blockbuster deal, but it sounds like that trade won’t happen unless the Vikings are willing to pay a premium. Still, adding a younger, more proven receiver that could also be a longer-term move makes a lot of sense.
How many trades will the Vikings make prior to the trade deadline?
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