The offseason program is in full swing with the 2023 NFL draft in the rearview mirror. Players were on the practice field for the first time since the Minnesota Vikings were eliminated from the playoffs.
With all of the new talent coming into the fold, some of the veterans on the roster might be viewed as expendable. That could be for talent, playtime or financial reasons. Offseason and training camp trades happen, especially with the Vikings. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has made five player trades since he took over in January of 2022.
Who could be on the move before week one begins? Here are five Vikings that could be traded.
OLB Za'Darius Smith
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After requesting to be released right before the beginning of free agency, there hasn’t been a lot of movement in terms of his future home. Smith wants a modified contract and for good reasons. He was top five in the NFL in pressures last year and finished the year with 10. sacks, but he only had 0.5 sacks in the last half of the season. With the Vikings signing Marcus Davenport this offseason, Smith’s days felt numbered, but things could change. Brian Flores could easily use all three pass rushers in various roles.
LG Ezra Cleveland
AP Photo/David Berding
The Vikings have continuity on the offensive line for the first time in seemingly forever, but that isn’t likely to remain the case. Cleveland is on the final year of his contract with a $3.64 million cap hit and there would be a savings of $3 million if the Vikings traded him. Why would you make the trade? You make it only if you don’t believe that you can re-sign Cleveland in the offseason and you get good compensation in return. This move isn’t likely, but with the cap situation the way it is and the financial guarantees given to Chris Reed, it’s not impossible.
RB Dalvin Cook
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Like Smith, Cook has felt like he won’t be returning to the Vikings next season. That became increasingly evident when the Vikings re-signed Alexander Mattison to a two-year contract during free agency. What is really intriguing is why the Vikings have waited this long to make the move. The best guess is money. Trading him now would result in a cap hit of $6.2 million and that gets cut in half if done after June 1st.
OLB D.J. Wonnum
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Wonnum is in a similar position to what the Vikings have in Cleveland, but he’s less valuable than the left guard is. The edge position is now relatively flush with talent, especially if the Vikings keep Smith around. If they don’t, moving Wonnum makes some sense from a salary cap perspective. He currently has a cap hit of $2.93 million and would save $2.74 million with a trade.
QB Nick Mullens
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings traded for Mullens last August when it became apparent that both Kellen Mond and Sean Mannion couldn’t be trusted to be in that position. Now, the same could happen to Mullens if rookie fifth-round pick Jaren Hall proves that he can handle the backup job. This doesn’t feel super likely considering his contract is for two years, but having a cost-efficient backup quarterback is something that teams like to have and Mullens is that guy.
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