Rick Spielman is Trying to Ship Out Justin Jefferson in Latest Vikings Mock Trade

Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s well-known ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft that the Minnesota Vikings want to move up for a quarterback. After allowing Kirk Cousins to depart in NFL free agency for the Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota cleared a path for a changing of the guard at quarterback. However, the cost of making that happen could prove significant.

In the weeks leading up to the first round of the draft (April 25), there have been persistent NFL trade rumors tying the Vikings to a variety of scenarios that would move them into the top-5 picks. Minnesota has the assets to pull it off, but its clear need at the position and desperation for a franchise quarterback reduce leverage.

Teams holding top picks, like the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Chargers, know how badly the Vikings’ front office and coaching staff want to land a potential franchise-caliber QB. That provides those general managers with massive leverage in trade negotiations. It’s even highlighted in two recent proposals by a former long-time general manager you might be familiar with…

Rick Spielman’s mock Minnesota Vikings trade scenarios

Minnesota Vikings former general manager Rick Spielman conducted a mock negotiating scenario for The 33rd Team with NFL analyst Charles Davis. Davis was operating as the Vikings’ general manager and Spielman made him two take-it-or-leave-it offers to move up for the fourth overall pick.

Spielman’s first scenario had Minnesota moving up to No. 4 overall by shipping out both the 11th and 23rd overall picks this year, along with another first-round pick next year. If Davis’ mock Vikings weren’t willing to do that, Spielman was “willing” to forget the additional first-round pick in exchange for… Justin Jefferson.

Davis declined both proposals, but the exercise does provide some insight into the process Vikings’ general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is going through this month. Let’s take a quick look at the value of the proposals and the merit behind one of them.

We’ll start immediately with Spielman’s proposal offering to trade down from the fourth overall pick in exchange for Minnesota trading Justin Jefferson paired with the 11th and 23rd overall picks. Even putting aside the fact that Adofo-Mensah made it clear Jefferson isn’t moving, the trade value itself doesn’t line up.

Related: Why the Minnesota Vikings should draft J.J. McCarthy

NFL executives suggested in February that the trade value of Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins might be a first-round pick. Considering the Buffalo Bills secured a second-round pick for Stefon Diggs, who is much older and comes with non-football concerns, Higgins’ trade value is likely a first-round pick.

With that context added, Jefferson would be worth two first-round picks, at a minimum. While there is the additional price any team would have to pay of signing him to a contract extension, Jefferson’s early career is on a Hall of Fame trajectory. With all due respect to Higgins, he’s not even an All-Pro talent at this point in his career.

Minnesota Vikings, 2024 NFL Draft
Credit: Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

So, Spielman’s proposal of Minnesota trading what equates to four first-round picks for the No. 4 overall selection is out of the question. This is confirmed with the OverTheCap.com trade calculator, which values the Vikings’ side worth far more than the fourth pick.

Related: Insider believes Minnesota Vikings using tactic to influence trade negotiations

Trading three first-round picks for the No. 4 overall selection is more realistic. However, despite the Vikings’ desperation, Arizona might also not have that many suitors. Outside of the Denver Broncos and New York Giants, there’s no other team that could really challenge Minnesota in a bidding war.

Furthermore, as highlighted by Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, current picks tend to be valued much higher than future picks. This means the 23rd overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft tends to be valued higher than a future first-round pick in 2025. It’s possible Minnesota might have to trade three first-round picks, but it’s far more likely the 11th and 23rd overall selections are the headliners of a deal.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: