The Minnesota Vikings didn’t have a game to play in Week 7 as they enjoyed a bye week instead. But that doesn’t mean many members of the organization weren’t putting in the work, trying to capitalize upon their early hot start.
To no surprise, one of those people who’s been hard at work includes first-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who’s already put his own stamp on the roster, exchanging several recent draft picks of the previous regime. Yet, this is his first trade deadline as an NFL GM.
While the Vikings may not have much cap space at the moment ($1.3M), they wouldn’t be making calls at the deadline if they didn’t already have a plan to carve out more room on their cap sheet in place. In other words, we can’t rule out the Vikings executing another trade before the Nov. 1 trade deadline.
But which players are the Vikings interested in trading for?
Minnesota Vikings inquiring about top receivers on the market
Surprisingly, despite the Vikings already having one of the game’s best young receivers in Justin Jefferson, coach Kevin O’Connell apparently wants an embarrassment of riches when it comes to skill position players.
Yet, at 32 years old, Adam Thielen is on the wrong side of 30 and getting another field-stretching option to add to Thielen’s redzone prowess could go a long way toward making the Vikings an even more explosive passing attack.
The current crew, with Kirk Cousins spraying the ball all around the field to Jefferson, Thielen, and K.J. Osborn have done admirably, with Minnesota leading the 10th-rated passing offense, but you can never have too much skill on the field. Osborn is a fine No. 3 receiver, but he doesn’t appear to have long-term potential of ever becoming a dangerous No. 2 option.
But these other receivers the Vikings are being linked to are definitely capable of starting opposite Jefferson in the long run.
Brandin Cooks would bring a speed threat to Minnesota
Specifically, the Vikings have been linked to Brandin Cooks from the Houston Texans. The word around town has the Texans hoping to get a second-round pick plus a Day 3 selection (Rounds 4-7) for Cooks, but it’s not that simple.
Cooks also has a $9.7M cap hit in 2022, which isn’t that scary. It’s his cap hits in 2023 ($26.6M) and 2024 ($24.6M) that have teams hesitant to pull the trigger on the speed demon. Yet, Cooks may be more willing to renegotiate a new deal if he’s moved to a contender as he’d reportedly prefer.
What’s nice about adding Cooks is that he wouldn’t necessarily threaten Thielen’s standing with the team. Thielen, at 6-foot-2, is the biggest end-zone threat on the team, and he consistently comes through in short-area situations where his slick route-running and incredible hands routinely prove too tough to defend.
Cooks, on the other hand, is more of a pure deep threat at 5-foot-10, with 4.33 speed. He’d overtake Osborn as the third receiving option, but not due to ineffectiveness, moreso because the Vikings just don’t have anyone with the deep speed like Cooks has, or at least not anyone who’s as polished as a receiver.
Jalen Reagor and Dan Chisena could likely win the foot race, but they haven’t produced on Sundays. With six 1,000-yard seasons under his belt, yet still just 29, Cooks would be an immediate gamechanger.
Jerry Jeudy would add a receiver with the ceiling to be a No. 1
According to Darren Wolfson, the Vikings have also looked into what it would cost to add the 15th pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, Jerry Jeudy. After being drafted out of Alabama, it appeared Jeudy was well on his way to becoming the next young sensational receiver who took the league by storm. Yet, after three inconsistent seasons paired with bad QB play out of Denver, Jeudy has yet to break out.
Playing all 16 games in his rookie season, Jeudy came away with his career highs in receptions (52), yards (856), and touchdowns (3). He’s slightly on pace to surpass his yardage totals this season, with 386 through seven starts, but still isn’t firing on all cylinders with Russell Wilson (who is in Denver?).
Now there’s a growing sense that Jeudy could be had for a reasonable price ahead of the deadline, which may be something like a Day 2 selection (second or third-round pick). The nice part about acquiring Jeudy is that he’s still just 23 and has a more affordable contract being that he’s still on his rookie deal ($4.1M cap hit in 2022, $4.8M in 2023).
Adding Jeudy would give coach O’Connell a chance to see if he can unlock the true alpha potential Jeudy displayed in college. Working alongside Jefferson, under the tutelage of receivers coach Keenan McCardell, maybe Jeudy can quickly get back on track to becoming a 1,000-yard+ receiver capable of destroying NFL defenses.
How would the Vikings pay both Jefferson and Jeudy if he did realize his potential? Haha, good luck, but their championship window would officially be wide open for the next 2.5 seasons until Jeudy can hit free agency.
Chase Claypool would give Kirk Cousins a massive target
Lastly, but not least, is Pittsburgh’s Chase Claypool. He may be available for a number of reasons, and as Doogie Wolfson also has heard, the Vikings have looked into the matter.
Selected in the second round, also in 2020, Claypool quickly found success with the Steelers like so many other receivers do. Claypool posted an 873-yard, nine touchdown performance as a rookie, then doubled down with 860 yards in a mixed effort in Ben Roethlisberger’s final season.
Now in his third year, Claypool nearly looks expendable for a team that has seen George Pickens emerge as a true threat as a rookie, while still having a 1,000-yard option in Diontae Johnson. What makes Claypool particularly fascinating to don purple and gold is his sheer size/speed combination.
Claypool stands at 6-foot-4, weighing 238 pounds and still managed to run a 4.42 40-yard dash. He’s like a freakish tight end. Like Jeudy, Claypool is young (24), and extremely cost-effective ($1.8M), yet may not require quite as much to trade for. Still expected to garner a Day 2 selection, the Vikings could add another redzone threat by bringing in Claypool.