A young quarterback looks to be out of a job in the NFC West, which affords the Minnesota Vikings a chance to swoop in and begin building for the future.
The Vikings are looking for a long-term answer under center after rejecting a three-year extension proposal from the camp of current signal-caller Kirk Cousins last week. Former No. 3 overall pick and San Francisco 49ers backup Trey Lance could be that answer after his general manager made it clear that last year’s “Mr. Irrelevant” is in line to claim the starting spot in the Bay Area after Jimmy Garoppolo left town for the Las Vegas Raiders.
“John Lynch makes it clear that Brock Purdy, Trey Lance and Sam Darnold will all compete for the 49ers’ QB job but that Purdy if/when healthy is ‘the leader in the clubhouse’ based on track record established in 2022,” David Lombardi of The Athletic reported on Monday, March 27.
Vikings Can Coach Up Lance During Last Year of Cousins Era
The emergence of Purdy makes Lance expendable, despite the haul the Niners gave up to acquire him just two years ago (two first-round picks and a third-round selection). Lance has one more year of experience than Purdy in the NFL, but has proven significantly less in his two seasons than Purdy did at the end of his first by leading the Niners to within one win of the Super Bowl.
It doesn’t make financial sense for the Niners to carry both players on the roster, especially when the backup is making far more money than the starter. Lance signed a four-year deal worth $34.1 million in 2021, while the entirety of Purdy’s deal pays him just $3.73 million. A fifth-year team option for Lance, which San Francisco will need to decide on by next offseason, will also cost the franchise north of $20 million.
Assuming Purdy does end up the starter, Lance’s trade value is arguably as high it is ever going to get right now, even despite the fact that he is coming off of a broken ankle that ended his season in Week 2 of last year. Lance will play his third season at 23 years old and has the physical tools necessary to be a dual-threat quarterback in the NFL.
While his contract doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Niners to carry, it is exactly the kind of situation the Vikings should be looking for — a young, talented quarterback on a rookie deal who can play behind Cousins for one season before taking the reins full-time in 2024.
Vikings Can Offer Trey Lance Reset Button, Vice Versa
The Vikings have the No. 23 overall pick in the first round of the draft and currently have zero solutions behind Cousins under center. His contract is up at the end of the season.
Swapping Cousins for Lance, which Andrew Perloff of CBS and SiriusXM suggested earlier this month, makes less sense for the Niners now that Darnold is under contract as a much cheaper veteran backup to Purdy.
San Francisco would no doubt like to get more back in return than just one first-rounder for Lance, but based on his performance and injury history it feels like a fair deal. Competition for his services could drive the price up to include another mid- or late-round selection, which the Vikings could accommodate in either this draft or the next.
Lance would offer the Vikings a better-known entity than any of their own options in the draft and would cost significantly less than trading up into the top 10 or making a deal for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Lance also fits the Vikings’ timeline when it comes to All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who is entering his fourth NFL campaign in 2023.