Vikings Trade Pitch Flips WR Justin Jefferson for Elite QB Prospect

Getty Wide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings have positioned themselves to move up to No. 4 or No. 5 in the upcoming NFL draft to select a quarterback, but the team has the ammunition to aim higher.

Bill Barnwell of ESPN examined the Vikings’ trade with the Houston Texans on Saturday, March 16, in which Minnesota added the No. 23 pick, and what it means for franchise’s future at QB. Barnwell acknowledged the deal that makes the most sense is still a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers, who own the fifth overall selection.

However, if the Vikings are willing to include wide receiver Justin Jefferson or left tackle Christian Darrisaw, they could potentially get into the top three and make a play for one of the best three QB prospects in the 2024 class: Caleb Williams of USC, Jayden Daniels of LSU or Drake Maye of UNC.

“The [New England] Patriots need solutions at wide receiver and left tackle, and the Vikings have standouts at both positions … but trading either player as part of a move would set that new quarterback behind before he ever steps on the field,” Barnwell wrote. “And while Nos. 11 and 23 wouldn’t be enough to land the third pick, Nos. 11, 23 and either Jefferson or Darrisaw would be too expensive of a price to pay. If the Vikings do make a move with the Patriots, it would have to be their two first-rounders and a future first-rounder as the basis for a deal.”

Trade With Patriots Would Represent Vikings’ Move for Either Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye

jayden daniels

GettyQuarterback Jayden Daniels.

While Barnwell ultimately came to the conclusion Saturday that three first-rounders would be Minnesota’s cost to trade into the top three, that conclusion ignores his own assessment in October of Jefferson’s trade value.

“I don’t think Jefferson would land three first-round picks in a trade, but the Vikings likely would be able to nab two first-rounders and a mid-round pick or a starting-caliber veteran if they decided to rebuild from the ground up and trade him,” Barnwell wrote in October 2023.

Dealing Jefferson, who can’t be thrilled with the departure of Kirk Cousins in free agency and the addition of Sam Darnold on a one-year deal, along with the No. 11 pick should suffice to move Minnesota into the third spot by way of a trade with the Patriots.

That move only makes sense if the Vikings are sure about the player who will fall to them at No. 3 — most likely Maye or Daniels — and that said player is the best QB on their board (or at least second-best behind Williams, who is a near lock to land with the Chicago Bears at No. 1).

Insider Predicts Vikings Trade to No. 5, Draft J.J. McCarthy

NFL draft insider "hearing" Giants interested in Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy.

GettyQuarterback J.J. McCarthy.

Even in that scenario, dealing Jefferson to land the best quarterback on their board (Daniels or Maye) isn’t a winning move for the Vikings if the player they can draft at No. 5 (J.J. McCarthy) projects to be a similar NFL talent.

Field Yates of ESPN predicted on Friday that Minnesota will ultimately land on McCarthy as their guy and use the Nos. 11 and 23 picks to move up to the fifth selection and draft him. However, it’s Yates’ belief that the trade will cost the Vikings all three picks Barnwell suggested the team could use to move into the third slot.

“With quarterbacks coming off the board quickly, I have the Vikings sending pick Nos. 11 and 23, along with a 2025 first-rounder, to the Chargers for this No. 5 selection,” Fields wrote, adding that McCarthy will be Minnesota’s pick in that scenario.

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