Lamar Jackson Would Be Fun, but He Won’t Fix the Vikings

Ever since the 2021 offseason, there has been rumors swirling around where Lamar Jackson stands with the Baltimore Ravens. Those discussions have only intensified since he did not travel with Baltimore for their playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals and then followed it up by posting cryptic messages on social media.

In the wake of these events, there are some in the Minnesota Vikings community that seem to think it would be best for the Vikings to make a pursuit for Jackson. It makes some sense. Kirk Cousins is about to enter his age-35 season in 2023, and despite an overall great year, folks will be left with the bad taste in their mouths from his 4th-and-8 decision at the end of their Wild Card loss.

Overall, though, while Jackson may provide more highlight reel plays for the Vikings, he does not fix the immediate issues for this Vikings team. In fact, bringing him to Minnesota could just make the issues even more apparent.

The Price Tag

Lamar Jackson Would Be Fun, but He Won't Fix the Vikings
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson celebrates as he exits the field after the Lions’ 19-17 loss at Ford Field on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021.

First and foremost, the whole reason why Lamar Jackson isn’t guaranteed to be playing in a Baltimore Ravens uniform anymore is because he expects a huge pay day. Deshaun Watson got a contract worth $250 million guaranteed from the Cleveland Browns last offseason, and Jackson likely wants a deal in the same ballpark.

Between having to give Justin Jefferson an extension this offseason and Christian Darrisaw the next, the Vikings don’t have that type of cash laying around to pay a quarterback upwards of $50 million a year.

On top of this, the Vikings likely would have to orchestrate a trade in order to make a move to acquire Jackson. If you watched the Wild Card game on Sunday, it should have been very apparent that the Vikings are simply too slow on the defensive side of the ball to keep up with opponents. Minnesota needs to be acquiring draft picks in order to inject their defense with youth, not giving them away.

That Pesky Kirk Cousins Contract

Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Even if the Vikings were able to navigate a trade for Jackson on top of paying him a premiere price, that doesn’t account for the fact that Minnesota still has Kirk Cousins under contract for another year. There’s a chance that they could wheel-and-deal to make a trade to move him elsewhere, but that doesn’t account for Cousins’ no-trade clause.

Moving Cousins has to be on his terms, and whenever he’s been asked about his future, the response always goes along the lines of “I love being a Minnesota Viking.” At least for 2023, it seems inevitable that Cousins will be the Vikings quarterback, so entertaining other options just doesn’t seem realistic.

Offense Never Was Minnesota’s Problem in 2022

The No. 3 Seed Vikings Will Play Host to the No. 6 Seed Giants
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) runs after a catch against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Despite what the final play of Minnesota’s season looked like, offense never was the problem for the Vikings in 2022. They finished 8th in points per game, 7th in total yards, and 3rd in first downs. Even in their playoff loss, the only reason that the Vikings were even competitive in that game was because Kirk Cousins overall played a spectacular game.

If the Vikings didn’t have a QB under contract, and they very clearly needed to fix things on the offensive side of the ball, I would be much more open to the idea of making a move for Jackson, even with some of his injury history. However, the major problem for this team remains the defense.

The Vikings were just the 11th team in NFL history to allow 400+ yards on at least 10 occasions, and they were just the 4th team to finish with a .500 record or better in such games (the 2022 Vikings went 6-4). Claiming that the offense was the problem for the Vikings this season is simply false.

Overall, a deal to acquire Lamar Jackson surely would cause a lot of excitement among fans. Jackson is a very talented quarterback, and he is a former MVP for a reason. However, between money, health, and the situation that the Vikings find themselves in going into 2023, it simply isn’t realistic to expect the 26-year-old QB to be suiting up for Minnesota.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.