Minnesota has crafted a patchwork solution following Cousins’ Achilles tear by assembling two career backups in Josh Dobbs and Nick Mullens and an unproven rookie in Jaren Hall. Both Dobbs and Hall are mobile quarterbacks, which is a diversion from the Cousins model of hanging tough in the pocket with the ability to make almost any throw Kevin O’Connell can conjure. The Vikings’ decision to pursue that kind of quarterback, both in the draft and ahead of the trade deadline, may be a clue into how the team will think when it chooses its QB of the future.
To that end, Peter King of NBC Sports floated the possibility that Minnesota will pursue a trade for Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields during an October 31 hit on 670 The Score’s Parkins & Spiegel Show.
“Justin Fields, if he goes somewhere, you would think that whoever would be trading for him would be trading for him to come in and either play or compete very seriously for a starting job right away,” King said. “The one team that really stands out to me is Atlanta. Another team that stands out to me a bit is Minnesota. We’ll see what happens with Kirk Cousins in the offseason.”
Bears May Replace Justin Fields with First-Round Pick in 2024
That Fields will be available next offseason is far from a given, but it isn’t outside the realm of possibility either.
The Bears are 2-6 and if the 2024 NFL Draft was held today, they would pick at No. 3. However, due to a trade with the Carolina Panthers, Chicago would also own the No. 2 pick. There are a handful of highly-touted QB prospects in the upcoming class, headlined by Caleb Williams of USC and Drake Maye of North Carolina. The Bears traded out of the top spot in 2023, passing on the chance to take a quarterback early, but their thinking may have reversed since.
Fields was a prolific rusher of the football from the position last season, gaining the second most ground yards for a QB in NFL history (1,143). The most popular narrative surrounding him coming into this season was that Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy would help Fields take the next step as a passer, but that hasn’t happened.
Through six starts, Fields has completed 61.7% of his 162 pass attempts for 1,201 yards, 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, per Pro Football Reference. He has struggled to keep his eyes up as Chicago’s offensive line play has ranged from bad to atrocious. When Fields is seeing the field, it’s often as if he doesn’t trust what his eyes are telling him. The young QB has either missed open wide receivers downfield or failed to even throw the football their way on several occasions this year.
Vikings Can Trade for Justin Fields at Good Value
That said, Fields came on as a passer against both the Denver Broncos and Washington Commanders before dislocating his thumb against the Vikings in Week 6. O’Connell is a vastly superior offensive mind to Bears head coach Matt Eberflus and Minnesota’s pass-catchers are vastly superior to the ones in Chicago.
Fields is playing in the third season of his four-year, $18.9 million rookie contract. As a former first-round pick (No. 11), Chicago can exercise a fifth-year team option to keep Fields under contract through 2025. Minnesota would also have that option.
The figure on that extra year won’t be tabulated until season’s end, but it will certainly be above $20 million. As such, Fields won’t be cheap to acquire, but he won’t be overly expensive either.
Also, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell noted on October 19 that Fields’ trade value has dipped into the range of a second-round pick following his early-season struggles, meaning Minnesota may not need to break the bank in terms of trade capital to acquire the QB either.
Fields’ contract situation, trade value and raw skill set make him an intriguing proposition for a team like the Vikings that can develop quarterbacks and has more downfield firepower than perhaps any other NFL franchise.
The Vikings have not shut the door on Cousins returning for his age-36 campaign in 2024, though the team chose not to extend him on a multiyear deal in either of the previous two offseasons, which doesn’t bode well for a new contract coming off a serious injury.
Hall could prove a revelation in the coming weeks and render talk of a Fields trade moot in Minnesota. Barring that development, however, the Vikings front office should already be considering what it might take to bring Fields into the fold.