4 moves that got the Minnesota Vikings back to .500 after Week 13

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Dalvin Cook
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Dalvin Cook /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) Yannick Ngakoue /

Trading Ngakoue to the Ravens

Shortly before their first game of the 2020 season against the Green Bay Packers, the Vikings decided to make a big trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars to acquire defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

The deal cost Minnesota a 2021 second-round draft pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round selection. But the Vikings obviously felt like Ngakoue was worth the price they paid to acquire him, especially since there was still a ton of uncertainty surrounding the health of Danielle Hunter at the time of the trade.

Ngakoue’s relationship with Minnesota ended up lasting for six games. Shortly after falling to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6, the Vikings decided to send the young defensive end packing for the second time this year and they made a deal with the Baltimore Ravens.

In exchange for a 2021 third-round draft selection and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick, Minnesota agreed to trade Ngakoue to the Ravens.

The move was a bit stunning since it seemed like the Vikings were going to try and keep the 25-year-old pass rusher around past the current season. But for whatever reason, Minnesota felt the need to unload him and roll with an inexperienced group of defensive ends for the rest of the year.

So far, this decision has worked out pretty nicely for the Vikings. Minnesota’s pass rush hasn’t transformed into one of the best in the NFL since trading Ngakoue, but it has resulted in the emergence of guys like D.J. Wonnum and Hercules Mata’afa.

Wonnum, in particular, has stepped up his play since the Vikings decided to get rid of Ngkaoue. The rookie defensive end out of South Carolina has come up with a bunch of big-time plays during the last few weeks including the sack-fumble to seal the win over the Packers in Week 8 and a blocked field goal during Minnesota’s one-point victory over the Carolina Panthers in Week 12.

Without the Vikings trading Ngakoue, Wonnum probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make some of these game-altering plays.