Where Do Things Stand on the Vikings’ QB Trade Rumors?

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, the conversation is almost entirely dominated by Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy. Did we expect anything different?

The former got added in free agency for a single season and $10 million. Not too long afterwards, the latter got tossed into the quarterback room. At No. 10 in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Vikings scooped up Mr. McCarthy, giving the franchise an upside passer to build around for the future. The Vikings’ QB trade rumors simply build off of the realities established in those basic details about Darnold and McCarthy.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) fakes a handoff during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

There are a pair of other quarterbacks in town — Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall — but seemingly the only thing capable of moving them up the depth chart is injury. The pair are battling for QB3 and the logjam is one that PurplePTSD managing editor Janik Eckardt recently discussed.

Mullens is the veteran journeyman who was brought aboard to function as Kirk Cousins’ backup. Well, Cousins is now gone, and the end result has been a total restructure of the QB room. Hall got picked in the 2023 NFL Draft as a long-term QB2, someone with good athleticism, brains, and leadership. It remains to be seen if he’ll be kept around to keep working toward fulfilling that role. Again, losing Cousins has changed things.

The Vikings’ QB Trade Rumors and The Crowded Position in MIN

If a game happened tonight, Sam Darnold would be tossing the pigskin.

Kevin O’Connell recently explained that Darnold is the top quarterback. “We haven’t had to put out a depth chart or anything like that,” O’Connell notes, “but yeah I would say Sam would be the guy I would look to based upon the spring he’s had. And really where’s he at in his career, in his quarterback journey. And what he’s been able to do coming in and really hit the ground running and really kind of take advantage of a competitive situation.”

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell throws a pass during training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Part of what made the answer notable is that O’Connell shifted into praising the other passers in Eagan. The tidbit about Mullens was short and positive: “Nick Mullens has had a great spring […] I’ve told all four of those guys, ‘Look, depth charts are great, it’s great to understand where I’m at currently today. But that will mean really nothing about the future.'”

The head coach then went on to reference how the Vikings needed four quarterbacks last season.

The implication is that Minnesota’s head coach understands that there’s inherent volatility in football — “I have total understanding of we only control so much in this whole thing” — and thus finds some comfort in knowing there are a lot of quarterbacks. And in June, it’s a good problem to have: can there be such a thing as too much QB talent?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and quarterback Nick Mullens (12) in the tunnel against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As a draft pick, Hall would seem to have more job security in Minnesota. The team felt highly enough about him to sink a 5th into the BYU passer. Plus, he’s the younger of the pair of more overlooked quarterbacks.

Is Nick Mullens thus the odd man out?

O’Connell was optimistic while talking about his quarterbacks, but that’s to be expected. And in June, there’s really no rush to move anyone out. Real football is still roughly three months away. What seems certain, though, is that the Vikings won’t be carrying four QBs on their roster. Someone will need to get moved out, and if it’s a cut, then there’s the risk of losing a player for nothing.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) changes the play at the line of scrimmage prior to a snap in the first quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.

Since the end of April, then, Mullens looked like someone who could be moved via trade. Moving Mullens would (probably) give the man himself a clearer path toward playing time. And then the Vikings could snag another pick while recouping some cap space in the process. Win all around?

The veteran Mullens is commanding just $2.23 million in cap space for 2024, so basically any team in the NFL can afford him. The cost to bring him aboard would likely be a Day 3 pick. Maybe even a late-round pick swap. Again, a price almost any team could afford.

Nick Mullens is a good NFL quarterback; he can play well with the right team around him. He’s a strong bridge QB/QB2, the kind of player a team should want to have in its building. The issue for the Vikings is simply that the plan is so clearly to move ahead with Darnold and McCarthy; the added complexity is that they’ve invested in Hall, as well.

So while a trade doesn’t appear imminent, the Nick Mullens situation is one to monitor. In his 5 games in 2023, Mullens completed 67.6% of his passes for 1,306 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions.

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.