I can’t believe I’m even addressing this rumor, but here we are. For whatever reason, Dan Graziano of ESPN recently tossed out the notion that the Minnesota Vikings could be one of the teams that emerges as a contender to trade for Baker Mayfield.
While it’s an idea I kicked around this offseason, at this point, there’s no way the Vikings are angling to trade for Mayfield. I’ll provide my reasons down below.
Kirk Cousins is firmly entrenched as the starter
For one, Mayfield shouldn’t view the Vikings as an ideal landing spot. Not for 2022 anyway.
Kirk Cousins isn’t going anywhere this year, and even if he does have a stretch where he struggles, he’s unlikely to be benched for another option on the depth chart. Cousins is a captain of the team and he has no reason to look over his shoulder as is.
While Graziano’s report centers around the idea that Mayfield could land in Minnesota with the idea of eventually taking over the following season, similar to Jameis Winston’s story with the New Orleans Saints, the QB will likely have other options.
I don’t want to discount Mayfield’s potential, I still think he’s a capable starter with above-average upside, but why would he want to risk sitting out for a whole season in 2022? Even though it looks bleak for now, chances are that Mayfield will land in a favorable situation before the year kicks off.
Then again, if Mayfield wants to be put in a position to succeed, the Vikings aren’t a bad option. They have a deeply talented group of skill position players who can help Mayfield look good on game day and as they say, the backup is always just one play away from seeing action. But then again, the Vikings already have a backup QB who they’ve invested in, why should they add another?
Kellen Mond is the QB in development
I’m a firm believer in teams ensuring they have a top backup ready to take the field should an injury occur. Especially if that team has playoff aspirations. Several teams practically ignore their backup QB when assembling their roster, but the Vikings aren’t currently one of them.
While Mike Zimmer may not have been a fan of Kellen Mond, the 2021 third-round pick brings a live arm with impressive mobility. It’s a skill set everyone drools over when trying to find the next diamond in the rough.
The issue is we haven’t seen anything from Mond just yet. Which, considering the Texas A&M product is still just 22 years old, there’s plenty of room to grow.
Even if he may not currently be seen as the top in-house backup, Mond deserves at least a full season where he gets a chance to overtake Sean Mannion. Making a trade for Mayfield now would essentially send the message that the current regime doesn’t value Mond or see him becoming an option long-term, which doesn’t jive with their recent comments.
Even if Mond doesn’t ever become a starter, it’s way too early to give up on the kid. Let’s see what he can do before we start splitting up his reps even more. Adding Mayfield would only stunt Mond’s growth and I’m just not willing to take a chance on a 27-year-old QB over seeing what Mond can do first.
Minnesota Vikings can’t afford Mayfield
Of course Mayfield probably thinks highly of playing for the Vikings someday, who doesn’t right? But the reality is they can’t afford to take on Mayfield’s fully guaranteed salary of $18.8 million in 2022.
Sure, the Browns could relieve some of this cap pressure by being willing to eat some of Mayfield’s salary, offering to pay a portion themselves. This would likely only happen in the Vikings sweetened their trade offer. Say instead of offering a fifth-round pick, they offer a fourth instead, while the Browns agree to pay $10 million or so of his contract amount.
Still, the Vikings are tight against the cap as is, and they always are with Cousins commanding nearly 15% of the team’s salary cap amount in 2022. They can’t keep squeezing more money out of their cap number for this upcoming season, certainly not anything nearing $20 million. That’s the type of move that occurs when adding a piece that can bring you to the Super Bowl, not for a backup QB.