Report: Vikings are Looking for Trade Partners for Dalvin, Za’Darius

4 Potential Trade Partners for Vikings EDGE Za'Darius Smith
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of folks expected to see Dalvin Cook and/or Za’Darius Smith moved before or during the 2023 NFL Draft. Instead, Vikings fans had to content themselves with a relatively modest three swaps, all involving picks.

Apparently, the team was lacking trade partners. Or, at the very least, the options that were available weren’t super appealing.

At this stage, the Vikings are interested in exploring their options. Per Albert Breer, Minnesota “will listen” when interested teams call: “The Vikings will listen on Dalvin Cook and Za’Darius Smith. The problem is both will require contract adjustments to be traded. Revised deals have to sit a day before they’re traded. So it’d be ’24 picks for them.”

Head Coach Rule
Dec 20, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs the ball during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota thus ventures into May with a pair of disgruntled stars on the roster.

Smith, a great pass rusher, publicly addressed his dissatisfaction by tweeting out his goodbye on March 9, 2023. Clearly, Minnesota’s leadership isn’t in a major rush. They allowed a portion of his contract to hit the books in 2023, making a cut more difficult to digest. The hope must be to find a trade partner. After all, simply moving on from an ultra-talented EDGE is a questionable move given that literally every team in the NFL wants productive players at that spot. The position has trade value, even if the player is a touch older.

Cook’s situation is a bit more tricky. There’s no smoking gun like a tweet publicly requesting a new home. Instead, there’s endless chatter about trade fits and the oddness of his roster fit given that Alexander Mattison was brought back on a medium deal.

Jul 29, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings outside linebackers Danielle Hunter (99) and Za’Darius Smith. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

More importantly, there was the non-committal commitment from Kwesi Adofo-Mensah leading up to the draft. When asked about the possibility of retaining Cook to once again join forces with Mattison, Adofo-Mensah stumbled to an answer that included stating that “in theory” the pair could be “complementary” talents.

Contrast that with what the GM had to say about the question about Kirk Cousins’ future: “Sometimes you come to a place where you decide, ‘Hey, let’s talk later. This is a solution for now.’ That’s all that’s happened.” He went on to praise the QB1 for all that he has accomplished: “Kirk doesn’t need to do show anything to me. Kirk has played football at a high level before I got to the Minnesota Vikings. Last year, we won 13 games. I don’t know what he would need to prove to me or anybody else.”

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) rushes with the football as Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage (26) defends during the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In Cousins and Cook, Adofo-Mensah dealt with questions about a pair of star players who appear (don’t miss the importance of that word: appear) to be approaching the exit ramp for their purple careers. The running back merely received some affirmation that “in theory” he could be back. The quarterback, in contrast, received reasonably lavish praise alongside an acknowledgement that there’s openness to return to the bargaining table.

The Vikings’ willingness to listen to offers (shout out to Breer!) functions as a megaphone to the rest of the league, one that communicates a crystal clear message: we’re open for business, so bring your best offer.

Moving on from Dalvin Cook via trade would free up $7,898,727. A Za’Darius Smith trade would clear $12,156,861. In other words, the team could build up their draft capital for 2024 while infusing their budget with $20 million in extra room. That’s an amount that could sign the draft class and bring in another free agent or two.

Stay tuned, Vikings fans.

Editor’s Note: Information from Over the Cap helped with this piece.