(AUDACY Sports) How far would Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields have fallen in the NFL Draft if the Bears hadn’t traded him and selected him 11th overall? Not far.
The Vikings were prepared to draft Fields at No. 14 if he was still available, according to ESPN reporter Courtney Cronin. Minnesota was reportedly “stunned” when Chicago acquired the No. 11 pick from the New York Giants and grabbed Fields, costing the Vikings a chance at landing their future franchise quarterback. When Minnesota’s fallback option, Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, was selected at No. 13, the Vikings decided to trade back in the first round, ultimately landing Virginia Tech offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw at No. 23.
The Vikings did eventually address the quarterback position, taking Texas A&M dual threat Kellen Mond in the third round. So he wouldn’t be blindsided, the Vikings kept incumbent starting quarterback Kirk Cousins in the loop, alerting him that they would likely take a quarterback at some point during the draft. Once Carolina at No. 8 overall and Denver at No. 9 both passed on Fields, Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman began testing the trade waters, seeing if there was a path for the Vikings to move up for one of Fields or Slater. Minnesota couldn’t match the exorbitant price Chicago was offering for the 11th pick, putting to bed any hope of Fields becoming a Viking.
Cousins would appear to be on notice after an inconsistent 2020 in which he threw for a career-high 35 touchdowns but also committed 18 turnovers (13 interceptions, five lost fumbles). Including a $10-million signing bonus he’s owed, Cousins has a cap hit of $45 million in 2022, his final year under contract. That’s pretty steep for a 32-year-old with one career playoff win.