The Minnesota Vikings’ Top 7 Trade Candidates

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
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If the season slips away with a Week 4 loss, the Minnesota Vikings will be looking toward the trade market.

Failing to achieve present-day success means the emphasis must shift toward achieving future success. Nothing is worse for an NFL fan base than hopelessness. Yes, sitting through a full year of losing can be torturous but it at least offers the hope of the cavalry arriving in the draft. Plenty of Vikings fans will say that ongoing purple purgatory is far worse than descending into the depths of NFL irrelevance for a single season.

Jan 11, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; A Minnesota Vikings fans holds a sign before the game against the San Francisco 49ers in a NFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is a numbers GM. Don’t lose sight of that important fact, folks.

The GM understands probabilities more than fans and analysts. He understands the importance of financial flexibility, stockpiling assets, and the dangers of the sunk cost fallacy. The point is simply that Adofo-Mensah is going to be all business when it comes to evaluating where the Vikings find themselves as the NFL trade deadline nears (which arrives on Halloween).

If the team is fully out of the race in 2023, the Vikings’ GM may look toward offloading some talent to keep adding to the draft pick war chest. Right now, the Vikings have eight selections going into the 2024 NFL Draft, but every GM is happy to pick up more picks.

in 2023 Offseason
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Consider the names below an attempt to discern who could be on the move if the Vikings fully lose their grip on playoff contention. By no means prescriptive, the Minnesota Vikings trade candidates piece simply seeks to identify players who don’t appear to be part of the team’s future plans.

The Minnesota Vikings Trade Candidates: 7 Names to Consider

Candidate(s) #1: Safety Lewis Cine & Corner Andrew Booth

Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine (6) lines up during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Pennies on the dollar. That’s what the Vikings will get if they opt to move on from one of their talented defensive backs.

Clearly, things haven’t worked out for either Cine or Booth. And, to be sure, injury excuses can only go so far. The team’s defense isn’t playing well and yet there hasn’t been any opportunity for the young fellas to get a spot on the field. Combined, Cine and Booth have … 0 snaps on defense in 2023. Making matters worse is that they’re being leapfrogged on the depth chart by players from significantly lower in the draft.

Some teams will have interest in acquiring these players since they each entered the draft with plenty of praise being attached to their name. The 1st and 2nd-round picks are sunk costs at this point in time, so a trade isn’t altogether unlikely.

Candidate #2: Quarterback Kirk Cousins

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Sep 16, 2018; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and quarterback Trevor Siemian (3) warm up before game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In truth, Kirk Cousins is aging like fine wine. Rather than slowing down as his 30s march on, Cousins has become far better at moving around the pocket and his fastball hasn’t lost its velocity. The main quibble from the current season is that his ball placement has been off at different points, hindering his receivers’ capacity to pick up more yards after the catch.

Even still, he’s a top-10 QB in the NFL.

Readers will be familiar with all the reasons for trading the quarterback. He makes a pile of money and doesn’t have any time left on his deal following 2023. The team may be looking to bring a young fella into the purple fold as stars like T.J. Hockenson, Justin Jefferson, and Christian Darrisaw command major money.

Meanwhile, teams like the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, or even the Atlanta Falcons may welcome a stronger QB1. Let’s see what happens for the QB with just a single postseason win on his resume after more than a decade in the league.

Candidate(s) #3: Edge Rusher D.J. Wonnum & Edge Rusher Danielle Hunter

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Washington Commanders
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) and Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) celebrate after a sack against the Washington Commanders during the third quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 4th-round selection looks like an NFL pass rusher.

Standing at 6’5″ and weighing 258 pounds, D.J. Wonnum has the size that teams covet for their edge rushers. From 2020-22, he has picked up 15 sacks as mostly a rotational pass rusher, so there is potential to be disruptive even if teams wouldn’t be trading for a starter. The simple fact that he was picked by Rick Spielman lessens his chance of being kept in Minnesota beyond 2023.

Danielle Hunter is similar to Cousins. Well-established and well-compensated, Hunter is a top-10 option at his position. Any team would be lucky to have him. The concern for the Vikings simply rests in having the money necessary to keep him in town for the long haul. Also, Hunter will turn 29 in October.

The sneaky team to make a play for Hunter? The 49ers.

Candidate #4: Receiver K.J. Osborn

Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) reacts to his catch against the Indianapolis Colts during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Slowly, K.J. Osborn is being given less of a chance in the Vikings’ offense.

Jordan Addison is now up to 13 catches, 185 yards, and 2 TDs. The 14.2 yards-per-reception average is impressive, especially when we remember that both of his touchdowns are from deep. And, of course, we think of Kevin O’Connell’s proclamation that the vision is for Addison to partner with Justin Jefferson to do damage to opposing defenses.

Osborn has had a more modest start to the season, picking up 7 catches for 101 yards and 2 TDs. Osborn’s 190 snaps on offense are more than Addison’s 134, but the rookie is leading the way when it comes to targets. Osborn has had 15 passes sent in his direction while Addison is up to 19.

In less time on the field, Addison — who has the benefit of being a Kwesi draft pick — has picked up more targets, catches, and yards. Osborn, a Spielman pick, is on the final year of his deal.

Candidate #5: Tight End Johnny Mundt

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Johnny Mundt (86) reacts with offensive tackle Brian O’Neill (75) and teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t expect a massive haul. Instead, the result may just involve improving some late-round draft capital.

The rationale for including Mundt in this piece rests in the simple reality that Josh Oliver and T.J. Hockenson are playing well, meaning they have a near monopoly on the TE snaps. Nick Muse (who is 24 and a well-liked weirdo) is the TE4 and showed enough during the offseason to suggest that he could reasonably help the Vikings to succeed in 2023 and beyond.

Mundt is going to be 29 in November and is on the final year of his deal. A team looking for a versatile, workmanlike TE2 could come calling. He has been able to get just 13 snaps on offense so far.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.