Vikings Linked Again to Trade for $34 Million Dual-Threat QB

Getty Quarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings.

The talk swirling around the Minnesota Vikings‘ potential interest in trading for quarterback Trey Lance won’t die, perhaps because it shouldn’t.

On Wednesday, August 23, Tom Pelissero of NFL Newtwork reported that the San Francisco 49ers named Sam Darnold their backup QB behind projected starter Brock Purdy. Pelissero added that the Niners are now “exploring options” for Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and the player San Francisco named its starter for Week 1 of the 2022 regular season.

Dianna Russini of The Athletic posted an update to X on Wednesday about the current trade market for Lance, which she described as “quiet for now.” However, the one team the long-time NFL insider mentioned specifically as a potential trade parter was Minnesota.

“While the Trey Lance market may be quiet for now, this past spring the 49ers and Vikings had serious conversations about a trade for Lance, but talks fell apart, according to league sources,” Russini wrote.

Trey Lance’s Trade Value Has Plummeted, Making Him Better Option for Vikings

Trey Lance, 49ers

GettyQuarterback Trey Lance of the San Francisco 49ers is on the trade block after the team named Brock Purdy its starter and Sam Darnold its backup for the 2023 season.

Lance has shown little as a pro, though that is largely due to a lack of opportunity. He spent most of his rookie campaign playing behind Jimmy Garoppolo, appearing in six games and earning two starts.

The 49ers elevated Lance to the job of starter ahead of last season, swapping Garoppolo into the backup role ahead of Purdy — a seventh-round rookie selection at the time. Lance played in just two games, breaking his ankle in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks. He hasn’t taken a snap as the team’s starter since.

For his career, Lance has a 54.9% completion rate to go along with 797 passing yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions, per Pro Football Reference. He has also rushed the football 54 times for 235 yards and a touchdown, making him a legitimate dual-threat player under center.

Debates over Lance’s trade value were clearly an issue in earlier offseason talks between the Vikings and 49ers, and are likely prove to be the primary obstacle again if Minnesota chooses to get back into the Lance discussion.

San Francisco moved up nine spots in 2021, from No. 12 to No. 3, to select Lance, giving up two future first-round selections and a third-rounder to make it happen. After two seasons and one bad injury, Lance has fallen to the third-string option, which renders the trade the Niners made two years ago to acquire him look like one of the worst in recent NFL history.

Recouping some of what they lost in that mistake has to be a priority for the Niners, though it’s unrealistic they can get a first-round pick, or even a second-rounder, for Lance at this juncture, according to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell.

A third-round pick may also be greater than Lance’s current trade value, particularly considering he has two years remaining on his $34.1 million rookie contract — a deal that is bad for the team on the receiving end of Lance in two ways.

First, it’s a lot of money for a rookie who won’t be ready to play immediately and will sit behind Kirk Cousins for an entire season. Second, Lance will become a free agent after the 2024 campaign unless whichever team holds his rights exercises a pricey fifth-year option on the QB’s contract next offseason.

Vikings Are Ideal Fit for 49ers Quarterback Trey Lance

Trey Lance

Getty Quarterback Trey Lance of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to an NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks in September 2022.

Still, Lance and the Vikings feel like the perfect match. Minnesota is too good to realistically get in the game for one of the top QBs in next year’s draft. Based on the actions of the front office in each of the last two offseasons, the Vikings appear poised to move on from Cousins after this year. The only potential QB of the future on the roster currently is fifth-round rookie Jaren Hall, who is far from a sure bet.

Lance has the skill set of the modern NFL quarterback. He has a strong arm and can run. He is still only 23 years old and hails from Minnesota. The team is set with Cousins for the upcoming campaign, which will allow a full year for Lance to learn behind a successful veteran and under head coach Kevin O’Connell, who is a strong offensive mind with a background as the coordinator for the 2021 Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.

The Vikings are an above-average team going through a roster transition with big questions in the secondary, the interior of the offensive line and at quarterback. Spending big on a free agent signal-caller might be a potential outcome in Minnesota if the right player comes along, but that doesn’t read as the kind of financial commitment that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is interested in making for the immediate future. If it was, why not just re-sign Cousins on a multiyear contract?

A match between Minnesota and Lance makes sense on both sides at the right price. A third-round selection and a Day 3 pick swap feels like a good starting point for hypothetical negotiations, allowing the Vikings to take a flier on a player with huge talent in desperate need of a new start.

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