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Monday Morning Mailbag: Quarterback Movement & Major Rule Change Proposal

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The Vikings slowed the pace a little bit in terms of free agents but continued to add depth and experience at multiple positions last week. Our 2024 Free Agency Tracker has been keeping tabs on all the moves since the new league year began on March 13, but here are links to moves the team made since last week's Mailbag.

Monday, March 18

Tuesday, March 19

Wednesday, March 20

For a quick version of all moves by Minnesota this month, this page has a list of Vikings transactions.

This week, NFL Owners, general managers, head coaches and other top executives have convened at the Annual League Meeting in Florida. They'll discuss some rule change and bylaw proposals submitted by teams and the NFL's Competition Committee, as well as other league business.

Rule change proposals include one by Detroit to allow coaches a third challenge within a game if either of the first two challenges are successful. Currently two challenges must be successful for a coach to receive a third.

Philadelphia has suggested that a team that is trailing could have up to two times in the fourth quarter to opt for trying a fourth-and-20 from its own 20-yard line after a score instead of trying an onside kick.

The Competition Committee submitted proposals to ban hip-drop tackles and expand prohibition of crackback blocks, as well as a proposal that would dramatically alter kickoffs. If approved on a one-year basis, the kicking team would line up all but the kicker on the 40-yard line of the receiving team, and the receiving team would line up seven players on its 35-yard line.

The kick coverage team would not be allowed to move until the ball hit the ground or a player on the receiving team touched the ball; a touchback on which the kickoff went through the back of the end zone would spot the ball at the 35-yard line instead of the 25-yard line. It seems the goal is to try to have more kickoff returns while reducing the distance traveled (and momentum gained) by players, striking a balance between kickoff returns happening while keeping in mind elements of player safety.

I'm certainly intrigued at the prospect of more kickoff return opportunities for a dynamic player like Kene Nwangwu, as well as how the proposed placement of players would affect return and coverage schemes.

Lastly for my opening comments, I want to congratulate Mary Redmond on her retirement after 18 seasons with the Vikings. We'll have a feature on Mary on in the coming weeks, but her service to the organization as Executive Assistant to the Head Coach (she helped Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier, Mike Zimmer and Kevin O'Connell) is worth mentioning here, too. The Vikings held a very nice retirement event for Mary last week.

Super stoked about what our GM (Kwesi Adofo-Mensah) was able to do in the draft pecking order. Having 11 and 23 in the first round allows us a shot for our future at QB (J.J. McCarthy?) and the ability to land an edge rusher at 23 or a WR, a TE or whatever. The only thing that scares me would be if Kwesi gets happy feet — afraid that someone else might grab his QB and decide to trade up. It would be a colossal mistake. You're holding all the cards. Don't fold now!


— Nicholas Balkou

P.S. I would've taken [Kenny] Pickett for a second and a fourth from the Steelers and grabbed edge rusher Jared Verse at 11.

There's the headline, which was the March 15 trade, and then the subhead regarding what the Vikings might do next.

Adofo-Mensah joined KFAN's 9 to Noon on March 18 to discuss the moves the team had made by that point in free agency, including the trade with Houston. He said Minnesota has "the best flexibility for whatever" in the 2024 NFL Draft after acquiring the pick from the Texans.

Moving up 19 spots did come at the cost of a second-round pick and sixth-round selection this year and a second-rounder next year (the Vikings received a seventh-round pick this year), but the Vikings now have two first-round selections to package one or both and move up, stay put with both selections or navigate the first round with smaller movements in either direction.

Many believe Minnesota made that play to move up the board in a year where several teams at the top have changed starting QBs.

Part of the work heading into every draft is figuring out who will be available when a team is scheduled to be on the clock and determining if a move up the board is essential, as well as how far up the board a team needs to go. Conversely, it's also beneficial to forecast how far down a team can move.

As for Pickett, the Steelers dealt the former first-round pick of the 2022 NFL Draft and a fourth-rounder this year to the Eagles in exchange for a third-rounder this year and two seventh-round selections in 2025.

For anyone who has been reading our Mock Draft Trackers, they've seen Verse mentioned a few times. We'll post a new version (5.0) of the Mock Draft Tracker this week (it's normally on every other Tuesday, but it will be Thursday because of the Annual League Meeting). It will be the first version since Minnesota's trade.

Vikings RB Aaron Jones, QB Sam Darnold, LB Blake Cashman, OLB Jonathan Greenard and OLB Andrew Van Ginkel sign their contracts and tour TCO Performance Center.

The internet is rife with teams that are after a quarterback. It appears there are several who are contenders to move up. Rather than wait until the draft to make a move, do you think it would be wise for the Vikings to trade up now? I know they need a trading partner, but that would preclude another team jumping ahead of the pick the Vikings have in mind?


— David Bond in Rochester, Minnesota (a fan through thick and thin)

I love when fans have different perspectives right out of the gate.

The word if can mean quite a bit, despite being so short.

If the Vikings believe there is one quarterback who stands above the rest (this year and next year, for that matter) and will be gone before the team picks at 11, then they would consider trading up because of the importance of that position, as long as they can get to a spot to secure that player at a cost that is deemed tolerable.

If the team believes multiple players will be on the board to fill premium needs, then they could stay put both times.

Acquiring the extra first-round pick was strategic, especially when other teams could be trying to move up the board, but we don't know which moves, if any, will follow.

The timing part of David's question is interesting to me because I thought the timing of the first trade was intriguing. Rather than wait — and potentially allow Houston time to strike a deal with another team — the Vikings moved quickly.

We don't know if the Vikings now will prefer to see how the board starts unfolding on the opening night of the draft (one month from today, by the way!) or if they'll have an assessment of the picks market that affects willingness to trade up again.

Vikings Legend John Randle gives a tour of the Vikings Museum to RB Aaron Jones, QB Sam Darnold, LB Blake Cashman, OLB Jonathan Greenard and OLB Andrew Van Ginkel who joined the team during free agency.

All the mocks I see have the team packaging both first rounders for a QB. HUGE mistake. These moves to slide up and select a supposed stud QB rarely work out. No move higher than 11 should include 23. They should be focusing on a top defender like Terrion Arnold, who is capable of playing all over the defensive backfield. Then, if a good QB is able to be selected by moving up from 23, do that. I believe Sam Darnold was a bad move and not giving [running back DeWayne] McBride a shot is inexplicable, as well. Shouldn't compound it by using two picks for a QB who could be a huge bust, especially now that the team doesn't have a second rounder either.

— Eric in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Vikings now have the 11th and 23rd picks in this year's draft, without a second- or third-round pick. Do you think it is a wise choice to throw all the eggs in a basket to move up in the draft to select a QB and give up two first-round picks? Vikings have been notorious for not finding a franchise QB. Sure, the staff is different but seriously how often does a team find a successful QB in the first round?

Your thoughts?

— Dee

For as much as several passers have been touted and projected as first-round picks, there's the less-spoken truth that history says not all will work out with the team that picks them.

Here's a look back at the QBs picked in the past 10 first rounds (or in the case of 2015 and 2022, the first three QBs drafted). The numbers indicate overall selection within the year.


  1. Bryce Young, Panthers
    2. C.J. Stroud, Texans
    4. Anthony Richardson, Colts


  1. Kenny Pickett, Steelers (just traded to Eagles)
    74. Desmond Ridder, Falcons (just traded to Cardinals for WR Rondale Moore)
    86. Malik Willis, Titans (projected to be backup QB for 2023 pick Will Levis)


  1. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars
    2. Zach Wilson, Jets
    (projected to backup 2023 addition Aaron Rodgers)
    3. Trey Lance, 49ers (traded to Cowboys last August for a fourth-round pick)
    11. Justin Fields, Bears (just traded to Steelers for a conditional pick, projected to be a sixth-rounder)
    15. Mac Jones, Patriots (just traded to Jaguars for a sixth-rounder)


  1. Joe Burrow, Bengals
    6. Justin Herbert, Chargers
    26. Jordan Love, Packers


  1. Kyler Murray, Cardinals
    6. Daniel Jones, Giants

    15. Dwayne Haskins, Commanders (was released in December 2020; signed with Steelers in 2021 and re-signed in 2022 less than a month before passing away)


  1. Baker Mayfield, Browns (traded to Panthers in July 2022; waived and claimed by Rams in December 2022; signed one-year deal with Buccaneers in 2023 and re-signed a multi-year deal with Buccaneers this month)
    3. Sam Darnold, Jets (traded to Panthers in April 2021; signed with 49ers as a free agent in 2023; signed with Vikings as a free agent in 2024)
    7. Josh Allen, Bills
    10. Josh Rosen, Cardinals (traded to Dolphins in April 2019; waived by Dolphins in September 2020; signed to Buccaneers practice squad in September 2020; signed by 49ers from Buccaneers practice squad in December 2020; waived by 49ers in August 2021; signed by Falcons in August 2021; signed with Browns in July 2022; released by Browns in August 2022; joined Vikings practice squad in December 2022)
    32. Lamar Jackson, Ravens


  1. Mitchell Trubisky, Bears (signed by Bills as free agent in March 2021; signed with Steelers as free agent in March 2022; released in February 2024; signed by Bills as free agent in March 2024)
    10. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
    12. Deshaun Watson, Texans
    (injured in 2017; re-signed in September 2020; traded to Browns in March 2022 and re-signed through 2026)


  1. Jared Goff, Rams (traded to Lions in March 2021)
    2. Carson Wentz, Eagles (injured during 2017 season; traded to Colts in March 2021; traded to Commanders in March 2022; released by Commanders in February 2023; signed by Rams in November 2023; became free agent in March 2024)
    26. Paxton Lynch, Broncos (waived by Broncos in September 2018; signed with Seahawks in January 2019; waived by Seahawks in August 2019; signed to Steelers practice squad in September 2019; signed to Steelers roster in October 2019; waved by Steelers in September 2020)


  1. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers (signed by Saints as free agent in April 2020; re-signed with Saints in 2021, 2022 and 2023; released by Saints in March 2024 and signed by Browns)
    2. Marcus Mariota, Titans (signed with Raiders as free agent in March 2020; signed with Falcons as free agent in March 2022; signed with Eagles as free agent in March 2023; signed with Commanders as free agent in March 2024)
    75. Garrett Grayson, Saints (waived by Saints in September 2016 and signed to practice squad; signed to Falcons practice squad in October 2017; waived by Falcons in September 2018; signed to Broncos practice squad in October 2018; waived by Broncos in May 2019)


  1. Blake Bortles, Jaguars (released by Jaguars in March 2019; signed by Rams in March 2019; signed by Broncos in September 2020; released and signed to Broncos practice squad in October 2020; signed by Rams in December 2020; signed by Packers in May 2021; released by Packers in July 2021; signed to Saints practice squad in December 2021; released by Saints in April 2022; retired in October 2022)
    22. Johnny Manziel, Browns (waived by Browns in March 2016)
    32. Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings (injured in August 2016; signed by Jets as free agent in March 2018; traded to Saints in August 2018; signed by Panthers as free agent in March 2020; traded to Broncos in April 2021; signed by Dolphins as free agent in March 2022; signed by Lions as free agent in August 2023; retired at end of 2023 season)

Guess that's a long-winded way of illustrating how it's been rare in the past 10 drafts for a team to land its franchise quarterback.

That's 31 quarterbacks selected in first rounds from the past 10 drafts and 13 who remain with the teams that selected them.

The highest picks often land with teams that are coming off poor seasons and trying to recover, so it might not be the greatest environment for success.

Allen and Mahomes are examples of teams successfully trading up.

Arnold has been mocked to the Vikings a total of four times in the roundups that we've put together.

We'll see what the future has in store for McBride, a seventh-round pick last season.

Minnesota has never drafted a quarterback higher than 11th overall (Daunte Culpepper in 1999).

There is a lot of speculation that the Vikings are going to trade up to select Drake Maye and more recently J.J. McCarthy. After watching tape and his performance at the combine, how come we haven't heard anything about Michael Penix, Jr.? Is it because he's a lefty and the different rotation on the ball? He is hands-down the most accurate passer within the top six prospects in the draft. His deep ball accuracy is ridiculously good. Secondly, it sounds as though the Vikings could get him at pick 11 as well or not have to trade up as high as pick 4. Trading up for McCarthy who's rarely thrown more than 30 passes a game or for 300 yards sounds like a bust to me. I hope Kwesi has something up his sleeve and we end up with two first-round picks. Please don't blow this draft like the first one passing on an All-Pro safety in Kyle Hamilton where they could have moved [Camryn] Bynum to corner.

Thank You,

— James in Las Vegas, Nevada

Ratings of prospects could continue to change. ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., just released his third mock draft of 2024 and had Minnesota staying put at 11 and 23 and winding up with McCarthy and former Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean. Kiper expanded on those players and more, of course, this past week during a conference call. Part of Kiper's position is that the infrequency of throws by McCarthy increased the importance of each pass.

The Vikings had plenty of folks at Senior Bowl practices (where Penix was one of the QBs), at the combine and are sure to leave no stone unturned between now and the draft.

His rotation of the football (even though it was spinning opposite from right-handed QBs) turned nicely on multiple occasions.

When the Vikings get free agents from another team, I wonder why they are chosen, understanding that the staff sees that they could be a good fit for the team. Several players go from team to team each year, passed from one to another.

Could it be that they are not good enough for that team, meaning they think they have better players? Or is it the amount of money that team has isn't enough for that team to keep him? The cap?

— Gill Sorg in New Mexico (from Hastings, Minnesota, and a fan since 1961)

Each team has a pro scouting department that keeps tabs on prospective free agents, and that list of players is considered with regard to potential financial terms, as well as the positional depth of draft classes.

All the moves by Minnesota have been made with the goal of improving in certain areas and offsetting departures who received offers the Vikings did not want to match/could not match while achieving other goals under the cap. Teams do themselves a favor to develop plans for maximizing each free agent, regardless of the term of the contract.

Sometimes a team winds up with more players at a particular position than it projects to need or wants to shuffle the deck. Sometimes (as seen above with all the QB movements) a vision for a player in a place doesn't come to fruition, but there's enough that has been shown for another team to have an interest.

Modern pro sports and free agency have created situations where it's so rare for players to start and finish their careers with the same team.

Why haven't the Vikings signed [Dalton] Risner? We need more people to protect our QB, or it won't matter who we draft.

— New, but soon to be lifelong fan, from Toronto, Adam Godbout

I'm sure everyone reading is happy to welcome you to the club.

It's an interesting situation with Risner, who signed with Minnesota in September 2023 and was inserted into the starting lineup after Ezra Cleveland's Week 6 injury. The Vikings were happy enough with Risner's play to trade Cleveland to Jacksonville, and the Jaguars were happy enough with Cleveland to re-sign him to a multiyear deal.

The Vikings currently have the following interior offensive linemen: Garrett Bradbury, Blake Brandel, Henry Byrd, Dan Feeney, Ed Ingram, Tyrese Robinson.

Minnesota has been pleased with the progression of Brandel, a sixth-round pick in 2020, and his versatility. Feeney was just signed, bringing 112 games of experience and 65 starts. He last was tasked with starting every game in 2020 with the Chargers.

I like the [Jonathan] Greenard, [Andrew] Van Ginkel and [Blake] Cashman signings. I have two concerns, though:

  1. They helped the defense picking up those free agents, but it seems like they are poking and hoping at DT by signing three DTs who are average at very best. Unless they plan on drafting a higher-profile DT, it seems they ignored that spot.
  2. They've done nothing to improve our offensive line. Brandel and [David] Quessenberry are nice backup or depth pieces, but Kwesi said they're looking at best available. Risner said he's not trying to break the bank. He gave up zero sacks last year. So Kwesi's best available went out the window. Even [Christian] Darrisaw openly said he wants Risner back. Why is it the Vikings have a history of ignoring the o-line issues. It seems from year to year they are content with mediocre interior linemen.

— Big Bad Bud

Since we touched on the Risner situation in the previous question, I'll mainly focus on the first concern mentioned by Bud (after mentioning that it was really good to see Quessenberry return. He did a great job filling in for Darrisaw and newly married Brian O'Neill in 2023).

As for the interior defensive line additions, Minnesota has brought in former first-round pick Jerry Tillery (formerly with Chargers and Raiders), former Ram Jonah Williams and Jihad Ward, a second-round pick who most recently was with the Giants. Minnesota also re-signed Jonathan Bullard, who was really helpful in Minnesota improving in multiple metrics last season.

Bullard is a good example of a veteran player who has been with multiple organizations flourishing a bit later in his career.

Some have projected the Vikings might add to the interior through the draft, as well, but that was a position group where Adofo-Mensah mentioned many players opted to return to college because of NIL offers they received.

I admittedly have not bunkered in a film room for days to watch Greenard, Van Ginkel and Cashman footage, but I did like what I have reviewed, particularly knowing they'll be deployed by Brian Flores. It's also the continuation of steering the roster a bit more toward a 3-4 base, although Flores is likely to be very multiple with his defense.

View photos of the Vikings 2024 coaching staff.

I just read the [March 18 Mailbag] edition, and I wanted to retrospectively chime in after seeing so much lamentation and disdain for the work the Vikes have been making this offseason. I agree with some of it (I'm eager for a resolution to the tampering investigation), but I'm mostly excited for the moves — especially the ones I never thought of.

Similar to Joshua Dobbs this past year (I'd love to see him back, by the way; his dynamism is thrilling, and familiarity and consistency of program would probably go a long way with him), Darnold has been doomed by the teams he was brought into but stands a real chance to realize his potential on a team suited to his capabilities. We have (one of?) the best quarterback destination(s) in the game, and a system that will be immediately comfortable for him, plus an arsenal of offensive weapons that will unlock opportunities he's never had before.

Our FA signings have been sleeper successes as far as I can tell, and as someone else stated, these guys weren't even on the radar, which means there's some potential that our front office identifies that other organizations either overlook or undervalue, and we have been pretty good at drawing out that potential. I do hope we bring Risner back, and while I'm sad to see Danielle [Hunter] go, I understand that not everyone has the same goals from their career. I'm also incredibly excited for our new first-round pick, and the value that brings to a number of scenarios. Even if we stick at 11 and 23, we're in a good position to fill two of our largest needs: future QB and edge. But what if Sam Darnold is unlocked in this offense? I wish we could have a practice or two before the draft, but that would be too helpful.

Random question: could a team draft all one position with their picks (say: QB), and then trade the players they wanted to move on from afterward? Has a team ever drafted all QBs or something like that?

This season is already way more exciting than I expected it to be. Love watching Kwesi cook! Hope they pick well this year. SKOL

— Adam Elliott Davis

Note: Adam's message was sent before Dobbs signed with San Francisco.

I understand critics usually are coming from a place of wanting and hoping what is best for the team, but I also know the people in the organization who are making the moves want nothing more than to bring the team sustained success and reach new heights.

It would probably be very helpful if teams could get their new free agents together with returnees to further guide draft plans, but that's not the sequence in place.

Thus, teams project how particular players will fit a team during free agency, and the draft follows without that affirmation.

Teams could stockpile quarterbacks or any other position where scarcity is a factor, but because the currency of draft picks is so limited and teams' needs usually involve multiple position groups, that approach has not been deployed. Some teams have drafted two quarterbacks within a draft (Washington with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins in 2012 immediately comes to mind).

Quarterback also has been a position where a player has been flipped. O'Connell, in fact, was claimed by the Lions after he was waived by the Patriots in 2009. Detroit quickly shipped O'Connell to the Jets for a 2011 seventh-round pick.

View home and away photos of the Vikings 2024 regular season opponents.

Lifelong Vikings fan living in the land of cheese and first-time writer. It bugs me to see so much shade thrown at Kwesi and [O'Connell]. They had a huge salary cap issue to crawl out of, a lot of aging players and crummy contracts and are starting to make headway. Now we're making moves to get that QB1. I like what Kwesi did this offseason. Darnold is a bridge and mentor — not the long-term answer. And besides, does anyone want to see more of the QB play we had from November onward last year? We can't afford every top FA and all the top draft picks.

I see a long view materializing. Will it be a decade dynasty? It never is. Let's see how this plays out over the next few years! SKOL!

— Tim F.

Welcome to the fray. Love seeing returnees and newcomers. Also appreciate the representation across the border.

Many times new GMs and coaches have ample cap space or really high draft picks. Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell had neither but did appreciate the roster they inherited and tried to maximize it. They succeeded with those results in the 2022 season, and had Cousins been available for the second half of the season, might have returned to the playoffs.

The success that Mayfield found in Tampa Bay last season caught everyone's attention, including the Bucs, who re-signed him for some major bucks. That's not said to create a baseline for Darnold, just to illustrate how a change of scenery helped a similarly-drafted quarterback.

Be on the look out for a "Film Room" about Darnold in which Vikings analyst Pete Bercich and VEN's Gabe Henderson highlight several aspects of playing quarterback that Darnold has put on film.

Now the roster continues to flip as cap space has increased.

Pre-draft day, do the Vikings have the resources and or focus possibly on at least one more "big splash" player possibly on radar?

— Jacob Gilbert from Milburn, Kentucky

The Vikings have signed/agreed to terms with 13 new players since free agency opened, and the roster is at 67 players (offseason max is 90).

While there might be some more free agents out there, we might be heading toward a period when teams redirect most of their attention to the draft (Minnesota currently has nine picks) and the frenzied signing of undrafted players at the end of the draft. After seeing how the roster is after the draft and undrafted signing period, teams could circle back again to free agents.

Good evening! Now that we have 11 and 23 in the first round, we can take a quarterback at 11 like Penix. And a defender at 23 like Byron Murphy II. Or Murphy at 11 and Penix at 23. If you can't get [Jayden] Daniels by trading up, I would not do it. [Drake] Maye is average. He misses his target too often. McCarthy doesn't have enough experience in a heavy pass offense. Michigan was run-first, so I would take Penix or [Bo] Nix. They both have larger passing samples. Trading up without getting Daniels, we will end up looking like San Francisco in the Trey Lance deal: three first rounders and no return. At least at 11 and 23 you can walk away and say we did not give up the farm to move up. Penix and Nix after Daniels are the better quarterbacks. I would also not waste draft capital on [Caleb] Williams. He's the fourth-best quarterback after Daniels, Penix and Nix. I know I said a lot. Look at the tape. The tape doesn't lie. How come Williams and Maye disappeared this year?

— Rodger Wilmore in Sacramento, California

If there is an inconsistency or perceived drop in production, teams have multiple opportunities to try to figure out why that was the case.

Washington and Oregon offered Penix and Nix more opportunities to throw the ball than McCarthy at Michigan, and that's not the fault of any of those three quarterbacks. Penix and McCarthy met in the title game by taking much different team paths, so successes can result from varied approaches.

Teams will assess factors affecting what any player has put on film, and they have opportunities to ask specific and direct questions to help understand how a player handled his assignment.

I think everyone would agree in the importance of nailing the pick if the Vikings move up the board. San Francisco was able to overcome its miss on projecting Lance because of how the rest of the roster was built, the system and the play of Brock Purdy. That's more of an exception than the rule.