Vikings general manager Rick Spielman promised recently that he has no interest in blowing up his team’s current roster.
Why would he? While the struggling Vikings, at 1-5, have put themselves in position to contend for the No. 1 overall pick right now, Spielman can’t help but think about his own job security.
He has to feel like his seat is getting a little warm after the Vikings’ awful start this season, and actively making the roster worse in the short term would be counterproductive to his hopes of sticking around for the long term.
And yet, the Vikings certainly look like a team that could use a facelift, and if Spielman gets permission from the Wilf family to commit to a rebuild, it would make a lot of sense to part with a few fan favorites ahead of next week’s NFL trade deadline.
Here are some players the Vikings could trade to jump start the rebuilding process:
Trading Thielen would be hard for Vikings fans to stomach. Not only is the hometown kid from Detroit Lakes, Minn., among the biggest success stories in franchise history, he has been the most dynamic player on the offense not named Dalvin Cook this season. He has 32 catches for 415 yards and a league-high 7 receiving touchdowns. That production is exactly why it might make sense to trade him. In theory, Thielen could fetch some sizable draft capital, especially from a team like the high-flying Cleveland Browns, who recently lost star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a season-ending knee injury. That, coupled with the fact that trading Thielen would save the Vikings more than $8 million in cap space next season, means a deal might make sense if the price is right.
Similar to Thielen, it’s hard to imagine Smith playing in another uniform. He has been a mainstay for the Vikings since they drafted him in 2012 and has been perhaps the best safety in the league in that span. That said, Smith, 31, will soon be exiting his prime, and the Vikings could save more than $10 million in cap space next season by trading him. He’s still very respected in the league and his playmaking abilities could help a Super Bowl contender on the back end. For the Vikings, it comes down to whether the return is enough to justify parting ways with someone as impactful as Smith.
This move makes sense if the Vikings believe Irv Smith Jr. is ready to take on a lion’s share of the reps at tight end. And it has been trending in that direction over the past month with Rudolph taking a backseat in the offense. Rudolph is a big body who could help a handful of teams across the league. The biggest issue for the Vikings will be convincing someone to take on Rudolph’s contract. He likely wouldn’t bring much in return after signing a 4-year, $36 million deal last year.
This deal makes too much sense not to happen. For the Vikings, it makes sense to shop the 305-pound tackle considering they almost certainly will release him next offseason based on his big contract. They also need to see what they have in rookie Ezra Cleveland at some point. It makes sense for Vikings to reach out to a team like the Tennessee Titans, who recently lost starting left tackle Taylor Lewan to a season-ending knee injury and are in need of a replacement. While there’s no chance Reiff would be as dominant as Lewan up front, he is playing pretty well right now protecting the blind side of quarterback Kirk Cousins.
This is a trade many thought would get done last offseason. Now, with the playoffs pretty much out of reach for the Vikings, trading Harris should be a top priority. He is playing on the franchise tag this season, and that means the Vikings could lose him for nothing next offseason. It makes sense to get something for him while they still can.
Just kidding. No chance the Vikings could convince a team to take on that albatross of a contract. If Spielman is somehow able to pull this off and trade Cousins, he deserves a statue outside U.S. Bank Stadium.