Are the Vikings Venturing into a Trade with One of Their Veteran Players?

Vikings Had the Worst Draft
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

As of right now, the QB room is a bit crowded.

Sam Darnold was recently signed. His deal — a single season sitting at $10 million — suggests that he’ll be given an honest opportunity to be the starter. And then there are Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall. The former was brought in via trade back in 2022; the latter was drafted in the 5th in 2023. Of the pair, the Vikings seem likelier to prioritize keeping the younger option, the one who arrived through the draft.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) under center against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Where does that leave Mullens?

Not too long ago, Josh Frey ventured into the idea when discussing the QB situation. Frey notes that the veteran QB’s spot on the roster now “feels out of place:” “However, it simply doesn’t feel like Mullens fits on the team anymore. Considering Sam Darnold was given a $10 million contract, it seems like the Vikings are going to trust him as their bridge QB this year while targeting a potential QB of the future in the draft.”

Frey goes on to note that a simple cut could free up some cap space: “Meanwhile, moving on from Mullens would save the Vikings $1.855 million in cap space, per Over the Cap, which at the very least, could help Minnesota sign their draft picks later this spring.”

The Vikings May Need to Explore a Trade for Nick Mullens

Basically anything seems possible for Mr. Mullens.

Legitimately, he’s a great QB2. The man is going to step onto the field and play without fear. Yes, the turnovers can be backbreaking, but he gives his skill guys a shot. Gotta respect that approach.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) drops back to pass against the Green Bay Packers in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Though unlikely, there’s a world where the journeyman gets the call to be the team’s starter in 2024.

Take a look at Mullens’ stats over these past couple seasons with the Vikings:

YearComp. %Y/AYardsTD/INT

The above statistical account is rudimentary, offering just the most basic facts. What stands out, though? The completion percentage is strong and so too are the air yards. The man can push the ball downfield. Last year’s 8.8 yards-per-attempt average surpasses Kirk Cousins’ number (7.5) by a decent bit.

More concerning, of course, are the interceptions. The turnovers are Mullens’ great flaw and the main argument against him seeing the field more. And yet there’s an important truth we shouldn’t forget: the approach that fuels Mullens’ propensity for striking out is the same approach that allows him to hit home runs.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) makes a pass attempt against the Las Vegas Raiders during the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

He can be evading pressure and then toss a touchdown pass through crowded coverage to Jordan Addison. He can face a 3rd & 30 and pickup the first by tossing the ball to Johnny Mundt. He can ignite the team’s most dangerous playmaker by making bold passes to Justin Jefferson.

Folks, not every quarterback is capable of doing what Mullens does in these moments.

Nevertheless, Frey’s earlier point about the fit on Minnesota’s roster remains. If the Vikings package picks No. 11 and No. 23 to go get their new franchise QB, can Nick Mullens keep justifying a roster spot? The point about recouping cap space is well taken, but a trade seems likelier than a mere cut.

Vikings Get a Decent Grade
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Three things are true of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah: 1) the man loves having financial flexibility; 2) the man loves finding value within every decision; 3) the man isn’t shy about pulling off trades. Will those three realities coalesce in a decision about Nick Mullens?

Assume Minnesota really does onboard a young passer high in the draft. Minnesota would then be moving ahead with RD1 QB, Sam Darnold, Nick Mullens, and Jaren Hall. That’s a crowded crew, so something would likely need to happen.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jan 1, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (45) pressures Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The best guess may simply be that all four passers get carried into training camp. If something horrible happens and one of Minnesota’s passers get hurt, then there’s enough built-in depth to weather the storm.

If, however, the roster remains healthy, then the Vikings could scour the NFL’s trade market for a team looking to bring-in an excellent QB2. The unfortunate reality is that training camp and the preseason always lead to teams losing players to injury, inevitably pushing some teams toward the trade market to shore up depth. Mullens, who is 29 and has twenty career starts, should be an attractive option to several teams.

The 2024 NFL Draft takes place from April 25th to April 27th. The opening round will offer greater clarity about how Minnesota’s QB room will look in September.

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.