Justin Fields Reportedly Had Vikings on Short List of Preferred Trade Destinations

Minnesota Vikings, Justin Fields
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings plan to add a young quarterback of the future to their roster, after Kirk Cousins departed in free agency. By all appearances, they’d prefer to find that QB in the 2024 NFL Draft, rather than pursuing a refurbished 1st round pick, like Justin Fields, or other floundering developmental options. Yes, they signed Sam Darnold, they see him as nothing more than a high-end $10 million bridge to the next big thing.

But that doesn’t mean the aforementioned former Chicago Bear (now Pittsburgh Steeler) wasn’t interested in playing for the Vikings. Inner-division trades are rare, but Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has executed them in the past. He’s pulled off two pretty big trades with the Detroit Lions, the first landed TJ Hockenson. The second allowed those same kitties to jump up and draft WR Jameson Williams a couple years ago.

Justin Fields had interest in playing for Minnesota Vikings

In the end, the Vikings had their mind set on going another direction. Nonetheless, the 25-year-old quarterback (according to ESPN) had Minnesota on his short list of four preferred trade destinations, which also included Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

“Chicago, intending to move the three-year starter as it prepared to select a quarterback with the No. 1 pick in April’s draft, was willing to give Fields some say in his next destination. The Steelers were one of four teams on Fields’ radar prior to the start of free agency, along with the Vikings, Raiders and Falcons, a source familiar with Fields’ thinking said.”

ESPN’s Brooke Pryor on Justin Fields’ interest in joining Minnesota Vikings

Of course. It all makes sense now. Who wouldn’t want to team up with Kevin O’Connell, Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson? It sounds like a dream landing spot for any quarterback.

Yet, the Bears may have been hesitant to send their starting quarterback of the past two seasons to their NFC North division rivals. Not to mention, Fields also had an interest in joining the Steelers from the very start, thanks to “thinking highly” of former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, his new coach in Pittsburgh.

Fields lands in Pittsburgh

Justin Fields Minnesota Vikings rumors
Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimately Fields was sent to Pittsburgh for a conditional sixth-round pick that can become a fourth-round pick if he plays in 51% or more snaps in 2024. That’s a price the Vikings likely would have been willing to pay, but it may have changed their upcoming NFL Draft plans, and there’s likely a prospect the front office likes far more than Fields anyway.

Passing on Fields gives the Vikings a chance to mold an even younger starter, one that fits their salary cap timeline a bit better. Fields may be under contract for a reasonable cap hit of $3.2 million in 2024, but the Vikings would have had to decide whether they want to pick up his fifth-year contract option for 2025, where Fields would earn $25.6 million.

Related: Insider Believes Vikings Used NFL League Meetings to Send Message to Patriots at No. 3

Meanwhile, drafting a quarterback in the first round will cost the Vikings much less from a salary cap perspective. Since all rookie contracts are based on draft slot value, the Vikings will be able to save a lot more money by having a QB on a rookie deal for the next four years. This will help immensely when signing Justin Jefferson to a record-breaking contract.

Even Bryce Young, last year’s No. 1 overall pick, had a low cap hit of $6.9 million last season. It only jumps to $8.2 million in 2024. But that’s for a No. 1 pick; the cost gradually decreases as each pick advances, meaning the 11th pick, or even the third, will cost even less. That’s a much easier pill to swallow than potentially paying $25 million to an unproven arm like Fields.

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