Would the Vikings like to see Lamar Jackson lining up behind center in purple and gold? That’s the topic that has been discussed on a national basis in recent days, but it makes no sense for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to entertain.
Not because Jackson lacks the skills that would help the Vikings remain at or near the top of the NFC North and perhaps the NFC for many years. Adding a spectacular quarterback is often one of the ingredients that any team with championship aspirations needs, but in the case of the Vikings, adding Jackson would cause so many issues that the team would be in a worse position with him than it is without him.
Jackson is a former Most Valuable Player who has regularly shown off his exceptional talent for the Baltimore Ravens. However, that organization has been hesitant to give him the long-term contract he wants, and instead pinned him with a “non-exclusive franchise tag.”
That means all NFL clubs can now negotiate directly with Jackson. If a team gives a formal offer to the quarterback, the Ravens do have an opportunity to match the offer. The Ravens are not about to let Jackson leave and get nothing in return. A trade seems the only realistic way to acquire Jackson in the long run.
If the Ravens really wanted to keep Jackson long term, they would have negotiated a deal with him by now.
That doesn’t mean they don’t like him. It just means they don’t want to pay him with a contract that is similar to the five-year, $230 million deal Deshaun Watson signed with the Cleveland Browns.
You can understand why Jackson wants that kind of deal, and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t get that deal from one team or another. But the Vikings? There are too many machinations that the Vikings would have to go through, and the end result would be a team that is weaker than the one they have now.
The first issue is the status of Kirk Cousins. While the Vikings did not give him a contract extension to this point, he has a no-trade clause that would allow him to reject any deal. Cousins loves wearing a Vikings uniform and hearing the SKOL chant, and he would like to remain with the team through the completion of his career.
Perhaps a trade partner would be willing to give him a long-term contract, but if it’s too a team that he doesn’t want to play for, it would not happen. Cousins has the power to reject any trade.
The second issue is the multiple needs the Vikings have, including cornerback, linebacker, defensive line, offensive line and receiver. If Minnesota was to engage in a trade for Jackson, the likelihood is that they would have to part with multiple high draft picks.
The Vikings have a first round (23rd overall), third round (87th overall), fourth round (119th overall), fifth round (158th overall) and sixth round (211th overall) in this year’s draft. How would the Vikings fill those holes when they would have to give up additional picks? Adofo-Mensah should be in the business of acquiring draft picks, and not making deals where they leave the Vikings’ control.
Bringing in a veteran quarterback who comes with a high price tag means that a team won’t have the benefit of drafting and developing a rookie quarterback and having him on a rookie contract. Quarterbacks in their early years don’t make $30 million per year or more, and they don’t eat up a team’s salary cap.
How can a team with salary-cap issues and multiple holes – particularly on the defensive side of the ball – fill those needs when the quarterback is chewing up big portions of the budget?
That would be an impossibility, even for the sharpest of general managers. Adofo-Mensah has learned by watching the 2022 Vikings that building a productive defense is a necessity for a team with championship aspirations, and the team seems well on the way to improving in that area.
Selecting a rookie quarterback in this year’s draft or next seems the way to go if the goal is to build off last year’s first-place finish and having a succession plan in place for Cousins.