A Major Trade Candidate is Off the Board, but Vikings Have Several Defenders to Target

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the Vikings fans who were dreaming of Quinnen Williams will need to be comfortable with doing precisely that: dreaming. The Vikings have to pivot toward other options if the goal is to trade for an impact defender.

The Jets and the All-Pro DT have agreed to a monstrous extension, removing the chance of the Vikings swooping in for trade #16. Per Tom Pelissero, Williams has agreed to a humongous deal, one that tips the scales at 4 years and $96 million. Officially getting Williams back into the fold means the New York Jets will be an even more fascinating team for Hard Knocks.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets
Dec 22, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) is sacked by New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (95) forcing a fumble during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Nevertheless, the Vikings have some options, so fans should take heart. There are more fish in the sea, a saying that’s true for both love and football.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be considering any and all options that improve the team’s outlook in 2023 and beyond. And, of course, he has shown an affinity for pulling off deals. Keep an eye on the aggressive GM as the offseason starts venturing into training camp, the preseason, and roster trim downs toward the end of August.

The Vikings Have Options on the Trade Market

At times, teams who are going nowhere fast — Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams — so they’ll be more willing to sell off talent. At other times, it’s simply a matter of fit; a talented player, sure, but just not the right situation. In these moments, a trade becomes more likely.

As we all know, the defense could use some work. At essentially every position except safety, the Vikings are lacking in proven depth. Some high-end talent at the top, but some major uncertainty once we move down even a spot or two for corner, linebacker, edge rusher, and defensive tackle.

Thankfully, there are a lot of players to be monitoring for the Vikings.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons (9) strips Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Simmons is someone who really stands out. Only 24, Simmons was the 8th selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Known as a man who can do it all, Simmons piled up snaps literally all over the defense last season. He had 110 at defensive line, 297 in the box, 409 as a slot corner, 28 as a wide corner, and then 53 at free safety.

The former Clemson standout is coming in at 6’4″, 238 pounds. He had 99 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 TFLs, 7 PDs, 2 INTs, 2 FFs, 1 FR, and 1 TD last season. Arizona declined his 5th-year option and their new GM/HC combo has ties to the Vikings (both have worked for Minnesota in the past). Might a trade be in order?

Questions Answered: Yay or Nay on Chase Young, Dalvin Tomlinson, Lewis Cine in 2023
Sep 25, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

Like Simmons, Chase Young is entering his 4th season in the NFL. Like Simmons, Young hasn’t had his 5th-year option picked up. He plays a premium position and was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2020. Since then, he has battled health issues, limiting his effectiveness. Provided the trade price isn’t astronomical, the Vikings could have some genuine interest.

Young just turned 24 on April 14th.

A more overlooked name is someone like Noah Igbinoghene. The 23-year-old corner was Miami’s 1st-round selection in 2020 (when Brian Flores was still the head coach). Given the connection and Minnesota’s desire for young corner talent, Igbinoghene is someone to keep in mind. Miami added Jalen Ramsey during the offseason, so a path to more playing time isn’t any easier for the young Dolphin.

The PFF grades — and lack of starts with just 5 across his trio of seasons — suggest that he has struggled so far in the NFL. Nevertheless, the objective would simply be to give a young, talented corner another shot at establishing himself in the NFL, especially since Flores will know him well.

Dec 21, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) enters the field before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Generally speaking, the GM prefers young players who are buy-low candidates (like the three players above). A chance to get Aaron Donald — if it even exists — would prompt almost any GM to rethink their usual strategy.

It’s quite possible that the only way LA would be inclined to move him is if he asked to be traded. In that scenario, something could materialize, especially if Minnesota’s management really is taking aim at a Super Bowl in 2023.

Make no mistake: the chance of landing the Hall of Fame talent is tiny. The thinking is simply that the Rams are going nowhere fast and their 3T could reasonably give LA some much-needed draft capital to build in the future. There are connections to the Rams with Kevin O’Connell and Wes Phillips. And, of course, the Vikings defense doesn’t have anyone like him (which team does?).

Onboarding Donald would be about emphasizing the competitive portion of the competitive rebuild.

At 32, Donald is getting closer to the end of his career even though he continues to play at an amazingly high level. Somehow getting him to Minnesota would instantly change the Vikings defense from one that may struggle to be average to one that legitimately inspires fear in the opposition. Everyone stands a little taller when someone like Donald is in the lineup.

The Vikings are sitting on $18 million in cap space. Equally as important, the team is sitting on a fair amount of draft capital.

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

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