Lamar Jackson to the Vikings is intriguing, but also unlikely

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Lamar Jackson
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Lamar Jackson /

A recent rumor has the Minnesota Vikings listed as a possible destination for current Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

It seems pretty safe to assume that of the Minnesota Vikings fans that have played the latest versions of the “Madden” video game during the last few years, the majority of them have completed a trade with the Baltimore Ravens to make the Twin Cities the new home of quarterback Lamar Jackson.

In the real world, however, trading for someone like Jackson is much more complicated for a team like the Vikings than it would be in a video game.

So even though Minnesota was recently labeled “a wild card” to acquire the current Ravens quarterback this year by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, it’s difficult to envision a scenario that results in U.S. Bank Stadium becoming Jackson’s new home field in 2023.

Cost likely too high for the Minnesota Vikings to acquire Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson

It’s unfortunate that the bubble has to be burst for the Vikings fans that have been holding on to the sliver of hope that their favorite team might trade for Jackson this offseason. But due to the actual cost of what it would probably take for Minnesota to acquire the former MVP quarterback, the chances of it actually happening a currently extremely low.

Let’s just start with what it would take to get Jackson to leave Baltimore.

Earlier this year, the Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on the All-Pro signal-caller. This means that other teams can submit a contract offer to Jackson, but Baltimore has the right to match whatever offers are placed in order to keep the quarterback on their roster for the 2023 season.

If the Ravens decide not to match an offer, however, they would be rewarded with two first-round draft picks from the team that was able to end up with the winning bid for Jackson.

So already, the Vikings would be forking over two first-round selections to Baltimore, and we haven’t gone over what sort of offer it would likely take for the Ravens to let Jackson walk out the door.

By placing the non-exclusive tag on the quarterback, he is currently due to make $32.4 million in 2023 if he signs his tender. With five quarterbacks currently having an average annual salary of at least $45 million per season, one should assume that Jackson will be looking for a contract that pays him closer to this $45 million amount per year.

Most have assumed that Jackson would like his next contract to be fully guaranteed as well. As a quarterback who has averaged 10.4 rushing attempts per game in his NFL career, giving him a fully guaranteed contract would be a gigantic risk since his chance of injury is likely higher than a quarterback that spends most of his time in the pocket.

Okay, still, let’s say the Vikings are fine with paying Jackson at least $45 million per year and giving up two first-round picks to acquire him. Well, then, what are they going to do with Kirk Cousins?

Cousins is currently in the final year of his deal with Minnesota. However, the Vikings just executed a cap conversion to his contract, and releasing or trading him would now be extremely detrimental to the team’s salary cap situation for 2023.

If Minnesota cut Cousins before June 1, he would remain on the team’s books for 2023, but his cap hit would skyrocket from $20.25 million to $48.75 million. The Vikings would lose more than $28 million in cap space if they were to release the veteran quarterback before June 1.

Something similar would happen if Minnesota decided to trade Cousins before June 1. The Vikings would lose more than $18 million in cap space as his 2023 cap hit would jump from $20.25 million to $38.75 million. Cousins also has a no-trade clause in his current contract, meaning he has to approve any sort of trade that Minnesota would like to include him in.

Now, trading or releasing Cousins after June 1 could potentially be something that the Vikings might consider, as they won’t lose any cap space by cutting him after that date, and they would actually free up $10 million in cap space if they managed to trade him after June 1.

Unfortunately, Minnesota would still be left with $28.5 million in dead cap from Cousins’ contract for 2024, regardless of whether they move on from him after June 1 of this year or not.

So let’s say the Vikings do actually decide to move on from Cousins after June 1 this summer and they somehow submit a winning bid for Jackson for a contract that will pay him an average of $45 million per season. Minnesota would then have to fork over two first-round picks and they would also end up paying for both quarterbacks in 2024 due to Cousins’ dead cap hit.

Jackson has until Week 11 of the 2023 season to sign his non-exclusive franchise tag tender, and the Ravens have until July 17 to negotiate a long-term deal with the quarterback.

So, technically, there is still plenty of time for the Vikings to figure things out if they truly want to pursue Jackson. But a move like this doesn’t really go along with the competitive-rebuild philosophy that Minnesota has been following since the arrival of general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in 2022.

It wouldn’t make a ton of sense for the Vikings to move on from one high-priced quarterback to another even more expensive quarterback who has also missed 10 games in the last two seasons due to injury or illness.

In their current state, the risk would be much lower for Minnesota to draft a young quarterback this year or in 2024 and attempt to take advantage of the lower cost of a young passer.

Adofo-Mensah has taken plenty of risks in his professional career, as evidenced by some of the inter-division trades that he made during his first year with the Vikings.

But even for someone like him, who used to trade stocks on Wall Street, a pursuit of Jackson this offseason might just be a little too risky for Minnesota’s general manager.

Trending. 5 players the Vikings could extend before the 2023 season. light