Third-year San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance likely won’t be a member of the team when the regular season gets going.
For the former No. 3 pick from North Dakota State, this is a dramatic fall from grace. Lance, 23, entered last season as the 49ers’ starting quarterback. He suffered an ankle injury early in a Week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks, missing the remainder of his sophomore campaign in the process.
With all of 102 regular season starts under his belt, Lance is pretty much as raw as they get. He’s also still extremely talented. Now that his future in San Francisco is cloudy, at best, let’s look at four ideal destinations for the young quarterback in a trade ahead of Week 1.
Minnesota Vikings bring in young quarterback
Kirk Cousins’ future with the Vikings is clearly up in the air after the two sides failed to come to terms on a contract extension during the offseason. Cousins, 35, is now slated to become a free agent after the 2023 season.
There’s no successor in place for the Vikings. Veteran Nick Mullens is currently QB2 with Jaren Hall and the recently signed Jordan Ta’amu battling it out for emergency quarterback duties. Depending on the cost to acquire Lance (likely a mid-round pick), it makes perfect sense for Minnesota to kick the tires on this possibility.
Related: Ranking all 32 NFL starting QBs
Denver Broncos pull off Trey Lance trade
“The thing about trey that people have to understand is that I believe he’s 23 years old. The guy got drafted at 20 years old with the weight of the world on his shoulders,” Broncos QB Russell Wilson said of Trey Lance after last week’s preseason game. “I think that the thing about it is he’s a tremendous football player. He’s got a lot of gifts, he’s got a lot of talent, and it’s going to turn for his good.”
We couldn’t think of a better quarterback for Lance to learn from as he looks to progress from wide-eyed youngster to a capable NFL quarterback. Wilson has that leadership ability. He displayed it with current Seahawks starter Geno Smith working behind him in the Pacific Northwest prior to a trade to Denver ahead of the 2022 season.
The Broncos also have a need for both a young quarterback and someone who can come in and run Sean Payton’s system. Given the fact that Wilson and Lance have similar styles, this seems to be a match made in heaven.
Cincinnati Bengals find Joe Burrow’s backup
One thing has become clear during the preseason. With Burrow sidelined to a calf injury, not a single Bengals quarterback has proven that he’s a capable QB2. While Lance is obviously ways away from being able to see the field on a consistent basis, he makes sense for the Super Bowl contenders.
Veteran Trevor Siemian (52% completion, 0 TD, 1 INT) and youngster Jake Browning (67% completion, 0 TD, 2 INT) just have not been good this summer. Given Burrow’s injury history (torn ACL during rookie season and current calf injury), Cincinnati needs to be proactive on this front. Acquiring Lance on the cheap would make a ton of sense.
Los Angeles Chargers take chance on Trey Lance
Easton Stick has acted as Los Angeles’ backup over the past few years. He has continually failed to prove himself capable of stepping in for Justin Herbert should the Chargers’ franchise quarterback go down to injury. Meanwhile, rookie Max Duggan from Texas Christian is nowhere near ready to step into a regular-season spotlight.
With new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore calling the shots in Southern California, Lance could be an ideal fit as a QB2. It also must be noted that the Chargers have pieces in place to help him succeed in the unlikely event Herbert goes down. That includes one of the league’s best offensive lines, a dual threat running back in Austin Ekeler and multiple capable receivers.