Trade Proposal Lands Vikings Pro Bowl QB

Kirk Cousins

Getty Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins

Let’s start with the facts. The Minnesota Vikings do not have a quarterback under contract beyond the 2023 season besides backup Nick Mullens.

They’re doing their homework in assessing the upcoming quarterback draft class with the possibility of selecting a top prospect early in the draft.

But if it’s not worth the risk, Minnesota could go a different direction and find a quarterback who has already proven themselves in the league and could succeed Kirk Cousins if he is not re-signed by next offseason.

A new arrival to the trade market, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones appears to be on the trade block and could be a low-cost option that offers flexibility in finding the next franchise quarterback in Minnesota.

After Pro Bowl Rookie Year, Mac Jones’ Sophomore Slump Could Lead to Discount in Trade

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported on April 4 that Bill Belichick has “shopped” Jones this offseason, citing “tension” between the surly head coach and Jones stemming from the 2022 season, when Jones went outside the organization to seek help as the offense floundered under first-year offensive play caller Matt Patricia.

The No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 draft, Jones was lauded for his accuracy and processing ability coming out of college and shined his rookie season. He threw for 3,801 yards 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions to the tune of a 10-win season a Pro Bowl nod at the tender age of 23.

However, Year 2 went awry for Jones after Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left to take the Las Vegas Raiders head coach position. Patricia and Joe Judge, neither of whom are offensive-minded, were put in charge of the offense. The offense struggled, leading to verbal outbursts on the sidelines by Jones last season as his frustration with the offense boiled over.

Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports reported on March 31 that Jones “really pissed Bill Belichick off” as seeking outside help and assurance could be deemed as disloyal to Belichick.

“As we know, a disloyalty in Bill’s mind is almost worse than bad play,” Curran said during an appearance on WEEI.

“And Mac, even though you could say, well, it’s ironic, the guy’s trying to get better and he’s wondering, ‘Are we supposed to be doing it this way?’ And asking people around football about it. That effort to improve was showing up the Matt Patricia-Joe Judge contingent and Bill putting them in charge. And when Bill caught wind of it — he’s still pissed about it.”

If the frustrations are teeming in New England, that could lead to the Patriots being willing to ditch Jones at a discount. He has two more years on his four-year, $15.8 million rookie contract and could also be extended a fifth-year option in the 2024 offseason.

Jones presents a similar skillset to Cousins and could study under the veteran for a season before taking the reigns in 2024 when Cousins’ current contract expires.

That would give Minnesota two seasons, if offered a fifth-year option, to trial Jones on a rookie-scale deal before making any larger decisions at the position. If the Vikings could acquire Jones in a trade that wouldn’t cost giving up a first-round pick, it would be a low-risk move that offers at the very least flexibility in the future after being hamstrung by Cousins’ contract the past five seasons.

Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Actively Scouting QB Class

Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell has stated that his goal for next season is to help Cousins have the best year of his career.

However, make no mistake; O’Connell is scouting the upcoming quarterback class diligently approaching the draft.

“It’s something where I take a lot of pride,” O’Connell told The Athletic on April 6. “No matter your current quarterback situation, around the whole league, I think you always have to be evaluating these guys coming in the draft, whether it’s the early-round guys, potential late-round guys, priority free agents. You never know when you’re going to be coaching one of these guys. You never know when you’re going to bring one in.

“The value in knowing these players, getting to know their games, their makeup, how they handle adversity, how they project to do all the things that we ask that position to do at this level. It’s the hardest position in sports. I don’t think you can ever just not go all in on your evaluations to know who these players are, know what they mean to potentially adding to your team now or in the future.”