The trade deadline is less than three weeks away and there is a potential trade out there that could catapult the Minnesota Vikings from fringe playoff team to the legit Super Bowl contender.
As you might be aware of, the Vikings offensive line isn’t what one would call, “stellar.” If anything the word might be “cellar.” The development and wasted recourses used trying to improve the unit is probably the biggest indictment on general manager Rick Spielman’s resume.
Spielman, who isn’t afraid of a making a big-time trade, has an opportunity to totally change that narrative. As everyone knows, Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams has been holding out for a new contract and will be the prized jewel of the October 29 deadline if the Redskins decide to move him. The team is reportedly not planning on parting ways with their All-Pro tackle but with the firing of Jay Gruden this week it is fair to speculate a change of strategy.
With each passing season, the Vikings Super Bowl window closes a bit more. Spielman showed by trading for Sam Bradford and signing Kirk Cousins that he has no plans on wasting the chance (his job could depend on it). Going all in for a talent like that of Williams would be a bold move, prying the window open a bit wider.
Washington will get plenty of offers for Williams despite its unwillingness to trade him. Minnesota had “no interest” in trading Percy Harvin back in 2013 and we all know how that worked out. The Redskins are going to be looking for a new head coach next season, wanting to shape the roster in his vision. So why not move on from Williams, unloading a huge cap number while getting something for him at the same time.
Williams won’t come cheap. A true rock at left tackle makes all the difference in the world for a quarterback, especially one like Cousins who lacks ideal pocket presence. Now granted, the left tackle position isn’t the mecca of offensive line spots like it was a few years ago with elite pass rushers lining up all over the line of scrimmage. But if the Vikings were to pull a deal off, they’d have two bookend tackles. Brian O’Neill, a second-round pick last season, was viewed as a project but has flourished at right tackle, yet to allow a sack in his career. Pair him with Williams, only 31, and Minnesota is set at tackle the next five years.
But whoever pulls a deal off for Williams has to figure out more than just a trade—they will also have to resign the Pro Bowler. Williams current deal expires after the 2020 season but with an annual average of just under $11 million per season remaining, the big man is due to for a big pay increase. Enter Vikings’ cap guru Rob Brzezinksi.
What could Spielman offer to make this work? Who knows, but his fingers should be bleeding from speed dialing Bruce Allen. How about this package:
First Round Pick (2020)
The Vikings get the anchor of their offensive line, shedding the salaries of Reiff and Rudolph which the Redskins can easily absorb with over $14 million in cap space. Reiff, who has an $11.7 million cap hit this season, becomes expendable with the addition of Williams and could start for Washington. The first-round pick, while a large asset to give up, could very well be spent on an offensive lineman anyway. The presumption would have to be that if the Vikings made a deal for Williams that first-round pick would become less valuable and usually any top-tier tackles coming of college will be swallowed up early in the draft.
Then there is Rudolph. The tight end and the Vikings worked hard all summer to keep him in Minnesota. It doesn’t seem likely they’d go through all that to turn around and trade him. However, through the first five weeks of the season Rudolph only has six catches on eight targets for a grand total of 36 yards. Meanwhile rookie Irv Smith Jr. has four catches for 64 yards. This new Gary Kubiak and Kevin Stefanksi offense supposedly put a huge premium on two-tight end sets. Sure, it is a small sample size but Rudolph appears to be the odd-man out. Trading him to a team with a young quarterback who will use him as a security blanket might be the best thing for Rudolph’s career.
The trade is a long shot but Spielman is running out of ammo so why not empty the clip and go down swinging? It could be the difference in the Vikings doing all in can to just make the playoffs and being an NFC favorite to go to the title game. It might also be the last chance Spielman has at keeping his job.