3 trades to make the Vikings championship contenders in 2023

Tampa Bay Buccaneers corner Carlton Davis
Tampa Bay Buccaneers corner Carlton Davis / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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Trade Idea No. 2

Vikings Receive: Alex Highsmith - OLB
Steelers Receive: 2024 second and fifth-round draft picks

It's hard to imagine the Steelers parting ways with Alex Highsmith after the 2022 season he just had in relief of T.J. Watt. The problem for Pittsburgh is that Highsmith is going to get paid a ton in free agency after the 2023 season unless he has a significant decline in production.

With Watt getting paid $28 million per year, it's hard to imagine Highsmith sticking around for Pittsburgh if he can replicate his form from last season. In a very competitive AFC North, it wouldn't be surprising if the Steelers become sellers around the deadline, and Minnesota should be on the phone to see what they could do to get the former Charlotte 49er.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and company would need to replicate a trade similar to that of the T.J. Hockenson trade in 2022. The price would be high, some teams may even go one step further and offer a first-round pick for Highsmith if he's having a Pro Bowl-like season, but in this case, a second and a fifth is a solid return for the Steelers instead of letting him hit the market for nothing.

To give up a second and a fifth for Highsmith, they would have to be sure they can sign him to an extension, as he is due to become a free agent at the end of this season. With extensions looming for Justin Jefferson and Hockenson, it would be a tall task to get an extension worked out with Highsmith too. With cap guru Rob Brzezinski still on staff, anything is possible, right?

As a player, Highsmith is at his best as a standing 3-4 outside linebacker, and under Brian Flores, he'd be just that. There had been murmurs of Marcus Davenport dabbling in the interior of the defensive line, and if the Vikings coaching staff feel the former New Orleans Saint would be best utilized on the inside, then Highsmith would fit right into one of the OLB positions from the jump.

Do the Vikings want to go through a second consecutive draft season without a second-round pick?