Should Top QB Prospects ‘Eli Manning’ Their Way to Vikings… and is it Possible?

nfl draft eli manning
Photo courtesy of the New York Giants

Who wouldn’t want to be able to team up with Justin Jefferson in the NFL? If you’re one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft class, then the Minnesota Vikings are probably on your vision board as the team you most want to play for.

Yet, unlike picking which school you want to attend or choosing a team in free agency, draft prospects get no say in which NFL team they’re forced to join. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before.

Then, in 2004, we saw a similar situation play out. Eli Manning and his dad, Archie Manning, forced a trade from the Chargers to the Giants on draft night, after Manning was drafted and took pictures on stage with a Bolts jersey.

The Mannings didn’t want Eli to play for the San Diego Chargers, who were a poorly run franchise to that point, so they successfully navigated a trade to the New York Giants, instead. Manning went on to win two Super Bowls that could earn him a Hall of Fame entry he absolutely would not have deserved, otherwise.

Could top QB prospects force Patriots to trade with Vikings?

Vikings, Minnesota Vikings
Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Now, 20 years later, could we see another top QB prospect force a team’s hand by demanding a trade? If so, the Vikings would absolutely be one of the preferred landing spots. They seemingly have everything set up for a rookie to thrive: a skilled receiving corps, a proven offensive tackle tandem, a young, offensive-minded head coach with a QB background and a top-rated organization (according to a yearly NFLPA survey).

Related: Report: Vikings Trying to Keep No. 23 Pick in Trade Up

This week, longtime Minnesota sports media members and insiders Phil Mackey, Judd Zulgad and Darren ‘Doogie’ Wolfson (SKOR North) went into that exact scenario and how it could impact the Vikings on draft day. Could we see one of the top quarterbacks pulling an “Eli Manning” in 2024?

What if they demanded a trade to, say… the Vikings, in order to avoid landing with a horrible New England Patriots team that’s void of a No. 1 wideout, established offensive line or many of the amenities and infrastructure necessary to raise a young franchise QB of the future? Wolfson wasn’t willing to report that happening, but he wasn’t willing to rule it out either…

“Well, I wouldn’t dismiss it. Even on (Jayden) Daniels, yes, all sorts of interest in being a Viking, but trust me, from his side, all sorts of interest in going 2 to Washington. Maybe to avoid that New England scenario. I don’t know that for sure, that would be me recklessly speculating.”

“J.J. McCarthy, represented by William Morris, Joel Segal and company, those are powerful agents. Drake Maye, represented by Creative Arts Agency. Very very powerful agents/agency. I wouldn’t necessarily rule that out. If you know the Vikings are having dialogue with New England, doing everything in your power to push that along to get your client here to Minnesota.”

Minnesota Vikings insider on potential of top QB prospects forcing a trade

While there haven’t been any specific rumblings of a top prospect like LSU’s Jayden Daniels, UNC’s Drake Maye, or Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy forcing their way to the Vikings, or away from the Patriots, it wouldn’t be all that surprising.

Related: Reported Cost for Vikings Trade Up to No. 4 is Staggering

I mean, if you are one of those quarterbacks, it could be the difference of 10 years in the league. The difference between succeeding, making $100s of millions of dollars or being labeled a bust who’s back to real world jobs in a couple of years.

More “Eli Manning” examples, both present and past…

nfl draft eli manning shadeur sanders deion sanders
Credit: Cris Tiller/For The Coloradoan / USA TODAY NETWORK

We’ve already heard Deion Sanders say that he will shield his son (Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders) from landing in a bad situation, when he enters the draft in 2025. Again, when this much money is on the line and pressure is this high, all parties should be thinking out all possible options. This phenomenon goes all the way back 40 years. It’s nothing new.

Back in 1983, Stanford QB John Elway, who is widely remembered as one of the top quarterback prospects to ever enter the draft, wanted to stay on the West Coast and avoid the woefully bad Baltimore Colts. So, Elway threatened to quit football and switch his pro career plans over to his baseball abilities (he had been drafted by the New York Yankees).

The Colts took him anyway, in one of the few draft classes (1983) that saw six first-round quarterbacks selected in the first round. Baltimore was spooked enough by Elway’s threat that they did indeed trade the now Hall of Famer to the Denver Broncos. Mission accomplished and successful.

Related: Florio Wonders if Vikings are Waiting for Pick-Swap Tampering Reward from Falcons

Remember, Elway struggled in his first two seasons with Denver. If he had not landed in a more preferred location, would he have been able to overcome that rough start and push his way to two Super Bowls and a Hall of Fame bust?

We’ll never know. But again, those are the questions Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and JJ McCarthy should all be asking themselves, if they New England Patriots are eyeing them up at No. 3

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