EAGAN, Minn. — The NFL's trade deadline is 12 days away, but the Vikings have already made a notable deal.
Minnesota announced Thursday morning that it has traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens for undisclosed draft picks.
The Vikings acquired Ngakoue from the Jaguars in August for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman met with the Twin Cities media on Thursday for his annual bye-week session and explained the trade:
"These are always very difficult decisions," Spielman said. "Part of my responsibility overseeing the football operations is to not only look at the short-term goals but the long-term goals as well.
"This was an opportunity that I felt would accomplish both the short and long-term as we move forward," Spielman added. "But these decisions aren't easy to make."
Ngakoue had team-highs in sacks (5.0), tackles for loss (five) and forced fumbles (two) with the Vikings. He had played 310 defensive snaps with Minnesota in 2020.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of January 4, 2021.
The plan in initially trading for Ngakoue, Spielman said, was to pair him with star pass rusher Danielle Hunter, who was coming off back-to-back seasons with 14.5 sacks.
But Hunter, who hasn't practiced since mid-August, landed on Injured Reserve shortly after the Ngakoue trade and the two never played a down together.
"I would say it was more — because we didn't know where Danielle was at the time — what you envision sometimes unfortunately doesn't always come true," Spielman said. "To have Yannick and Danielle coming off the edges … to have an Anthony Barr and the way Zim' has schematically used him to create pressure on the quarterback so he's 1-on-1 with running backs … that's how we envisioned it.
"Unfortunately, it doesn't work out like that," Spielman said. "You try to readjust with some of the top playmakers you don't have, especially on the defensive side. That's what the coaches are doing right now."
Asked for an update on Hunter, Spielman said, "We'll let you know if there's anything new that develops on that front."
And with the Nov. 3 trade deadline looming, Spielman was asked about the team's possible shift in approach after a 1-5 start.
Is the Ngakoue trade a precursor of more moves to come?
"There's always a lot of talk this time of year," Spielman said. "It's always going on and hasn't changed.
"I think the one dynamic that you're looking at, if we do make a trade, is that player can't get on the field until six days — after he goes through the five days of COVID-19 testing — which makes it a little difficult for teams," Spielman continued. "And you have to look at teams' cap situations, too.
"But we're always going to look, and that's my job to look [in] the short-term and the long-term," Spielman continued. "If there's a situation that pops up and there's a deal that can help us … either on a short-term [deal] where we do trade for a young player or another player … or we move a player … those are decisions you kind of make as opportunities present themselves."
While there has been plenty of outside speculation and trade scenarios thrown around in recent days, Spielman said "no" when asked if any Vikings players have come to him to request a trade.
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