ESPN analyst Field Yates made several trade suggestions Thursday morning that, while lofty, he thinks would benefit both teams.
His take on a trade between the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Chargers: the Vikings offer veteran offensive lineman Riley Reiff (and agree to pay $3.8 million of his base salary) for cornerback Desmond King II, who is considered one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL.
Here’s what Yates had to say on how the trade could benefit the Vikings:
“The Vikings drafted Ezra Cleveland out of Boise State, their heir apparent to Reiff, in the second round of this year’s draft, which makes a trade of Reiff more viable. Now, it’s likely that Minnesota would want to maintain its veteran presence in protecting Kirk Cousins’ blindslide (particularly with a limited, at best, offseason) but the Vikings are navigating a tightrope with the salary cap because of a roster featuring many excellent players. In trading Reiff (even while paying a portion of his salary this season), Minnesota would free up salary cap space and acquire a versatile defensive back in King.
The next time Mike Zimmer meets a talented cornerback he won’t want to work with will be the first, as he’s arguably the best defensive backs tutor in all of football. After cutting Xavier Rhodes and losing Mackenzie Alexander in free agency, the Vikings retooled their secondary with first- and third-round picks in Jeff Gladney (TCU) and Cameron Dantzler (Ole Miss), respectively, but King would add one more movable chess piece to this group.”
Six characters are all King’s former Iowa teammate and Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson had to say on the trade, and while likes don’t equal endorsements in the Twitter era, King did entertain Johnson’s tweet with a like.
— Jaleel Johnson (@leellxvii) June 25, 2020
King was first-team All-Pro in 2018 but regressed the following year in his third season. But when King is on, he’s second to none, producing the Pro Football Focus grade in a single game of any cornerback in 2018. His ability to be physical with slot receivers and stop the run are what have established himself so far.
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Why It Works (On Paper)
Reiff currently occupies a $13.1 million cap hit for the Vikings’ 2020 season. It has been discussed that at some point rookie Ezra Cleveland would replace Reiff at left tackle, leaving Reiff in the limbo. There is the potential Reiff could fill one of the two vacant guard spots as neither right or left guard have been filled during the virtual offseason, but the Vikings have not been thrilled with Reiff’s 2019 performance, per ESPN’s Bill Barnwell.
If the Vikings could reach a deal with the Chargers by paying Reiff a portion of his salary, they would create over $2.5 million in cap space, per Sportsrac, and add a cornerback approaching his prime in the 25-year-old King.
The Chargers signed Chris Harris Jr. in the offseason, a four-time Pro Bowler, to an already stacked cornerback corps including All-Pro selections Derwin James Jr. and King. Pro Football Focus said Harris will take over the slot cornerback position, putting King in a similar predicament as Reiff — being replaced at his favored position and asked to shift to a new one.
King has been relatively silent on Harris’ arrival to the Chargers since March 18, but he did post a couple of tweets to assert he’s going to continue to work hard and has something to prove after having a down season in 2019.
The Chargers expect to have a position battle at left tackle and could gain a veteran at the position in Reiff, while the Vikings could do the same at cornerback and give King his preferred spot in Mike Zimmer’s defense.
Chargers Likely to Keep King Without A DB Replacement
The Chargers signing of King isn’t any indication they are trying to get rid of the third-year cornerback.
In fact, The Athletic’s Daniel Popper wrote that it may have been a move to motivate King, while also reinforcing the Chargers pass defense.
Popper laid out three reasons for signing Harris, and none involve trying to replace King. The Chargers are trying to build a defense that can stop their AFC West rival and Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes and want as much depth in the secondary as possible.
The Vikings would likely have to offer Anthony Harris, who was franchise tagged this offseason, to have a chance at landing King — which would leave the Vikings secondary with little to gain from the trade.