The Vikings Get an Up Close Look at a Top Trade Target

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals
Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, yes, Isaiah Simmons. By this point, the Cardinals LB is a frequent flyer in the PurplePTSD trade chatter. Given that joint practices are taking place, the Vikings get an excellent opportunity to learn a bit more about him.

Kicking things off was a piece in late June. The basic premise of the argument was that Simmons is a young linebacker capable of blitzing a ton and soaking up snaps in the slot. The versatility, youth, rookie contract, and history of being a high selection means he checks a lot of the boxes for a Kwesi Adofo-Mensah trade target.

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Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before a wild card game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

A broader consideration of defenders who may be available was published in the middle of July. Once again, Simmons finds his name included among the players: “The former Clemson standout is coming in at 6’4″, 238 pounds. He had 99 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 TFLs, 7 PDs, 2 INTs, 2 FFs, 1 FR, and 1 TD last season. Arizona declined his 5th-year option and their new GM/HC combo has ties to the Vikings (both have worked for Minnesota in the past). Might a trade be in order?”

Finally, there was the humble attempt to assemble the top 10 names to monitor for a Vikings trade. Predictably, the early August piece includes Arizona’s talented defender.

The Vikings Get an Opportunity to Scout Isaiah Simmons

Joint practices benefit everyone involved. The depth players get the chance to show what they’re capable of while the starters put together snaps that allow them to avoid preseason play.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons (9) strips Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Currently, the purple optimism hovers around Ivan Pace, the UDFA linebacker who has very quickly climbed the depth chart. Rather than just make the team, Pace is venturing toward a meaningful role as a rookie. Not bad given that the NFL collectively decided he wasn’t worthy of being chosen among the 259 picks used in the draft.

Otherwise, the team is leaning on Jordan Hicks and Brian Asamoah to get the job done. Sure, players like Troy Dye and/or Troy Reeder could show up on the final roster, but their role will mostly be constrained to special teams.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Troy Dye (45) reacts after a touchdown against the New York Giants during the third quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

How much more formidable would the linebacker position look with Isaiah Simmons tossed into the mix? A Hicks-Asamoah-Pace-Simmons foursome would offer a tremendous balance of experience, youth, and versatility. That’s a crew capable of finding success in both the short and long term.

Of course, the two sides — Arizona and Minnesota — would need to have mutual interest. The greatest indicator that the Cardinals would be willing to move on rests in the fact that they didn’t pick up Simmons’ 5th-year option, are undergoing a rebuild, and have a new GM who wasn’t responsible for picking the linebacker. All of those factors point toward trade plausibility (without guaranteeing anything, of course).

Meanwhile, the greatest reason to expect the Vikings to pursue a trade rests in the GM’s habits. The man has pulled off 15 trades since taking over. In late August of 2022, Kwesi put together four trades.

The executive has discussed trading for young players since it allows him to adhere to his competitive rebuild philosophy, an approach that seeks immediate improvement while still building toward the future. The GM’s self-proclaimed desire is to add young players capable of improving the team right now as they maintain their high-end play for years to come.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons
Jan 1, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier (25) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons (9) during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings and Cardinals are participating in joint practices today and tomorrow before their preseason game on Saturday. As a result, Minnesota’s main decision makers are going to have a tremendous opportunity to learn a little more about Arizona’s talented defender. Simmons would give DC Brian Flores just a bit more talent in what will be a challenging schedule.

The Vikings still have a decent amount of draft capital, owning seven picks in each of the next three seasons. Just as important is the cap space, coming at a touch below $10.5 million. Adofo-Mensah thus has the ammunition necessary to pull off a deal if both sides agree on making a swap happen.

The Vikings and Cardinals will play on Saturday, August 26. The game begins at 12 p.m. CDT.

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