Vikings Trade Pitch Flips Justin Jefferson, Picks Into Franchise QB

Justin Jefferson, Vikings

Getty Wide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings aren’t budging on a fully-guaranteed contract for Kirk Cousins, which means there could be a new starting QB in town by the time next season kicks off.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported recently that the Vikings are serious about finding themselves a new franchise QB, adding and that the best way to do so might be to dangle wide receiver Justin Jefferson as the center of a trade package that can get them into that particular conversation.

“[The Vikings] want, I believe, a franchise quarterback and trading Justin Jefferson could be the key toward getting the return to move up [in the draft], if that’s what they want to do,” Florio said, per The Viking Age’s X account on Monday, February 19.

Justin Jefferson Retains Massive Trade Value Heading Into 5th NFL Season

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

GettyWide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings could try and deal Jefferson just about anywhere in the league and get themselves at least a couple of first-rounders back.

“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,” ESPN’s Bill Barnwell wrote in October 2023, adding that it wasn’t a plan he would endorse.

Minnesota’s own No. 11 pick, plus a couple of other first-rounders — one somewhere in the top half of this year’s draft and another with prospects to be solid in 2025 — should be able to get the Vikings into serious conversations with the likes of the New England Patriots at No. 3.

In fact, No. 11 and another first, plus lesser draft assets probably accomplishes that. Dan Graziano of ESPN reported on February 10 that the Patriots could be convinced to trade out of their spot and named the Vikings as one of the teams to watch in a potential deal along with the Atlanta Falcons.

Direct Trade With Bears for No. 1 Pick Likely to Cost Vikings Justin Jefferson, Draft Haul

Caleb Williams, USC

GettyQuarterback Caleb Williams of the USC Trojans.

Going up to No. 3 would be nice, and it would put the Vikings in position to guarantee themselves either Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye, depending on who the Washington Commanders select at No. 2. This is all assuming the Chicago Bears will draft Caleb Williams of USC No. 1 overall, which most national reporting from NFL insiders over the last several weeks has indicated will be the case.

That said, if the Vikings are willing to punt on Jefferson for a chance to draft a quarterback, they should probably only do so if they can land the signal-caller of their choice. The only way to accomplish that is to acquire the No. 1 pick, which would likely require a direct deal with the Bears.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported on February 10 that it would take a “historic haul” to move Chicago off the top pick in the draft. The Bears got two firsts, two seconds and receiver DJ Moore from the Carolina Panthers for the top selection in 2023.

As such, Jefferson — worth two firsts and a mid-rounder, via Barnwell — plus two more firsts from Minnesota (No. 11 in 2024 and a first-rounder in 2025) feels like it’s in the ballpark of the value Rapoport described ahead of the Super Bowl.

Trading Justin Jefferson Would Be Tough Pill to Swallow for Vikings

Justin Jefferson, Vikings

GettyWide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings.

In the end, the Vikings probably won’t trade Jefferson at all. But it is a notion that, while painful, is at least worth considering.

Spotrac projects Jefferson’s market value at 29.3 million over a new four-year contract. However, when healthy he has been the best receiver in football — breaking records right and left over his first three seasons, all of which ended in the Pro Bowl. As such, Jefferson has a good chance to break records at the negotiating table as well just as soon as he arrives there.

Minnesota can afford to pay Jefferson, but the franchise can’t afford to alienate him. If Cousins isn’t coming back, the Vikings must have a strong backup plan with which they can instill confidence in their All-Pro wideout. It won’t be hard for the front office to muster a plan, or six, but it may be difficult to find one that truly puts Jefferson’s mind at ease if none of them involve Cousins’ return.

He is, hands down, the best free agent quarterback set to hit the market in March. The Vikings won’t get a surefire hit if they draft a QB with the 11th pick or if they trade down and take one later in the first round.

Jefferson said less than one week ago that he wants assurances under center before he signs a long-term extension in Minnesota and right now, the team doesn’t appear capable of giving him any. As such, dealing the best wide receiver in football might make sense, but the return must be massive and the QB solution — for which the trade will pave the way — must result in a franchise player donning purple and gold.

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