The Minnesota Vikings are not in a spot anyone expected at the start of the year. Even Trevor Lawrence knows this.
Coming off a playoff appearance last season (that included a win over the New Orleans Saints), big things appeared to be in the works.
The hype was only piled on once the team landed superstar defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in a trade before the season.
However, things have not gone to plan. The Vikings have started the year 1-5. That has been punctuated by Danielle Hunter’s injury.
Hunter is one of the very best defensive ends in football. Pairing him with Ngakoue should have been perfection for the Vikings. Instead, Hunter has not seen the field all year.
Even worse, on Thursday it was officially announced that he would miss the entirety of 2020 for the Vikings due to a herniated disc surgery.
There was another big domino to fall as well. Ngakoue was traded on Thursday. That’s right, the superstar defensive end the Vikings traded for this offseason, was traded away already.
So now the question has to be asked, do the Vikings try to tank for elite quarterback prospect Trevor Lawrence?
There is a very simple answer to this question – no.
Lawrence is the top prospect, he will be going number one overall. So the Vikings would need to get the first pick in the draft. That means out-sucking the New York Jets.
There are a few other teams I could mention here, but let’s be honest – this is the Jets’ race to lose (or win or whatever).
New York is 0-6. Adam Gase is somehow still the coach. Either he has leverage over someone or they are keeping him there with the hopes that the team goes 0-16 and they can move on after the season and start fresh with a rookie QB and a new head coach.
The Vikings have issues, but they aren’t that bad. They will win a few more games. The Jets probably won’t.
Another reason is Kirk Cousins. The quarterback is commanding a ton of money right now. He’s been really bad in 2020 for the Vikings, but he’s not a terrible quarterback.
No, he is not elite and probably not going to propel a team up into the next tier. But he’s a very solid quarterback that can help teams win.
He’s also not much of a trade chip though. Good luck to the Vikings in finding a team that wants to take him off their hands. To do so, they’d probably be eating a lot of the contract – which would still handcuff them quite a bit.
Sure, they’ll win a few more games and might even go on a nice run. But just a reminder that even if they finish the season on a 7-3 run they’d go 8-8, which would likely yield them third place in the NFC North.
Good luck getting the players to go along with it for the Vikings. Obviously no player ever wants to tank, sometimes it’s easy with your roster to still pull it off.
Sure, the Vikings have issues but they also have Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, Justin Jefferson, Eric Kendricks, and of course Cousins. Do you really think that is a lineup that will continuously lose games for you?
The Vikings have a very tough schedule the rest of the way. They also have some winnable games though (Detroit Lions twice, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers all come to mind). Of course anything can happen in the three games they still have against the Packers and Bears (twice) as well.
Lawrence is an incredible prospect. He is one of those players that everyone is heralding as a “sure-thing”.
Any team would love to have him. That 100% includes the Vikings. It just is not in the cards though.
There are too many moving parts. They would need to somehow out-lose the Jets and find a way to move on from Cousins. Neither seems all that doable in 2020.
Remember, this is a team that made the playoffs last year. It’s not easy to go from that to tanking for the first pick in one year.
Lawrence is a generational prospect and obviously the Vikings should want him. Tanking seems too risky though. Play the season out and hope you can build off the momentum into next year.