The Twin Cities received its first dusting of snow in the hours leading up to the 2023 trade deadline, and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah proceeded to offer up a couple flurries of his own. But the Minnesota Vikings’ activity was nowhere near the blizzard of trades some expected.
In an ultimately un-splashy trade deadline, the Vikings made a late-round pick swap to acquire QB Joshua Dobbs and solidify the team’s passing depth without Kirk Cousins (Achilles), who they officially placed on injured reserve. Shortly after, they dealt fourth-year guard Ezra Cleveland to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth-round pick after Dalton Risner stepped in and made Cleveland a superfluous asset in his contract year.
Net, the Vikings slightly diminished their interior offensive line depth and slightly improved their quarterback depth while exchanging late Day 3 draft picks of little consequence.
However, the biggest story of the lukewarm deadline day was what Adofo-Mensah didn’t do: commit to being a buyer or a seller.
You could’ve made a strong argument in either direction.
Without Cousins, the Vikings’ Super Bowl odds dropped to 120/1 via FanDuel. That’s worse than the reeling Green Bay Packers (110/1). Even with talented yet polarizing veteran quarterback Cousins, the Vikings were longshots to make a run all the way to Las Vegas. Now, to make a Super Bowl trip, they would need Dobbs to be the next Kurt Warner or Hall to be the next Tom Brady.
Wins against San Francisco and Green Bay may have saved the Vikings from an inevitable sell-off; four-and-four, it turns out, looks infinitely better than 2-6. Vikings ownership would’ve been hard-pressed to green-light a firesale at any record, let alone a .500 standing and a credible path to the playoffs. Likewise, Adofo-Mensah called tanking “unconscionable” earlier in the year. Two big wins in the span of six days may have saved Adofo-Mensah from the obligation to shop some of his better veterans.
Still, Cousins’ injury casts a pall over what would’ve otherwise been an exciting Tuesday full of opportunity.
Defensive linemen Leonard Williams, Montez Sweat, and Chase Young — all traded in the last 48 hours — would’ve been talent boosters to the Vikings defensive line that has lacked interior rush and has missed Marcus Davenport for the majority of six games. But Minnesota stood idly by and watched a division rival and two other NFC playoff contenders scoop up the pass-rushing help.
Danielle Hunter can only get so many sacks by himself.
And yes, Hunter will be getting those sacks in purple after being retained for at least another nine games with the franchise that drafted him in 2015.