Vikings Cautioned against Trading for $263 Million Quarterback

Dec 11, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) celebrates after the game against the Miami Dolphins at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The speculation of a trade between the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Chargers for quarterback Justin Herbert gained momentum last week, but it would be costly for the purple.

SKOR North’s Judd Zulgad explored the financial issues surrounding such a trade. Herbert has 17.223 yards passing for 114 TDs versus 42 interceptions in his first four seasons.

“For [2024], Herbert’s cap hit is $19.3 million and then … in [2025] it spikes up drastically to $37.3 [million]. That’s a lot,” Zulgad said on April 5. “Now, I do consider him to be a top-10, easily, if not top-five quarterback in this league. And if you go back to the game he played here, I mean, there’s a lot to like. And I think in [Kevin] O’Connell’s system, it would be a great fit.”

“But let’s go back to the financial implications. And if Justin Jefferson is going to get the bag — and until he’s traded, I think he is — and if you look at where this team is from a financial standpoint, I think the team’s personal choice would be to try to trade up,” Zulgad added.

Vikings Cautioned
Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) warms up before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

“But if you find that that’s going to be impossible, would I completely dismiss this? Seen the Vikings do crazy things and some of them have worked out. So no, I would not dismiss this as a possibility,” Zulgad continued. “Would it be my first choice financially? No. Am I intrigued, though, by Justin Herbert the player? Damn right I am.”

Why Vikings Could Justify an Enormously Expensive Tandem

Oct 1, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) walks off the field following the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

A Justin-to-Justin passing combination would truly break the bank in Minnesota, but they would have an elite duo. Jefferson could cost the Vikings up to $29.4 million annually based on Spotrac’s numbers, and that means the Vikings could spend $66.7 million on that duo alone in 2025.

Herbert, 6-foot-6, 236 pounds, has been one of the most dynamic passers in the league over the past four years amid three seasons of 4,300 or more years. He completes 66.6% of his passes, and he had a 95.7 passer rating.

Winning hasn’t come along with that amid just one winning season, but the Chargers haven’t one of the better teams for years. Los Angeles hasn’t won a playoff game since 2019 after a 12-win season, and the Chargers had won nine or fewer games annually for all but two of the past 14 seasons.

Jefferson plus Minnesota’s offensive supporting cast plus a solid defense could change things for Herbert. In addition, former Vikings QB Kirk Cousins won more in Minneapolis after no 10-win seasons or better with the formerly Washington Redskins.

How a Vikings-Chargers Trade Could Include Justin Herbert

Sep 17, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) attempts a pass as he is pressured by Tennessee Titans defensive end Denico Autry (96) and defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons (98) in overtime at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota trading with the Chargers in the draft could happen. ESPN’s Field Yates had the Vikings trading up to the Chargers’ No. 5 pick in an April 3 mock draft.

However, Yates proposed Minnesota would take Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy with that pick. Former Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh, now the Chargers head coach, has been vocal about McCarthy as the best QB in the draft.

Zulgad indicated that McCarthy could be part of a deal between the Vikings and Chargers, which would send Herbert to Minnesota. Harbaugh and McCarthy won a national title together in the 2023 season.

“So a month ago, I would have said this entire scenario was, like, absolutely crazy. And I think I might have dismissed this at one point,” Zulgad said. “But in light of the information that we have received, and in the light of the fact that I do think it is incumbent upon the Vikings to explore — and I’m guessing that they are — every option possible …  If you’re the Vikings and let’s say Jim Harbaugh has called ya, I don’t think you’re gonna hang up the phone.”

The 2024 NFL Draft is slated to begin on April 25th, and we will see then what ultimately ends up happening for the Vikings in the first round.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.