Vikings owner does nothing to stop trade hype train for draft’s worst-kept secret

Minnesota Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf fueled speculations about the team's quarterback plans during an interview at the NFL Owners Meetings in Orlando.

San Francisco 49ers v Minnesota Vikings
San Francisco 49ers v Minnesota Vikings / David Berding/GettyImages

The Minnesota Vikings are undergoing a transition after quarterback Kirk Cousins signed with the Atlanta Falcons during free agency. With the looming quarterback transition and NFL Draft capital, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is in position to make franchise-altering decisions this offseason.

Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf joined NFL Network's Steve Wyche and Tom Pelissero to discuss the team's future at the annual league meetings in Orlando. When Wilf was asked about the quarterback position, he fueled speculation about the Vikings selecting a quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Vikings owner Mark Wilf hints at plan to draft quarterback

"We love Sam Darnold but when it comes to the quarterback position, it’s certainly critical," Wilf said. "[General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah] and [head coach Kevin O'Connell] are working hard. We’ve got a plan and Sam Darnold is part of it. We’re excited he’s in the building, and we’re excited we have two first-round picks, so we’ll see where it all goes. We have a lot of flexibility and we’ll see what happens."

The Vikings have positioned themselves as prime trade-up candidates a month before the NFL Draft. Last week, Minnesota acquired the No. 23 overall pick from the Houston Texans in exchange for two second-round picks. Equipped with the No. 11 and No. 23 overall picks in April's draft, the Vikings are positioned to maneuver around the draft board. There has already been "considerable buzz" about Minnesota trying to move to the top of the draft to select a quarterback, according to ESPN’s Matt Miller.

The Chicago Bears are expected to select USC's Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick. The Washington Commanders hold the next selection and will be able to select either LSU's Jayden Daniels or North Carolina's Drake Maye. At No. 3, the New England Patriots could take the remaining option or trade down. If all three quarterbacks are gone, the Vikings could attempt to land Michigan's J.J. McCarthy, who has skyrocketed up draft boards over the past month.

Minnesota signed former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold in free agency, but he's not viewed as a long-term solution. While O'Connell would love to convince everyone that he's comfortable with Darnold as the team's starter in 2024, it's much more likely that Darnold is viewed as a stopgap veteran. If the next few months go according to plan, Darnold may not even play a snap in Minnesota.

The Green Bay Packers had a stranglehold on the NFC North division for decades, but a power vacuum emerged in recent years. Three different teams have won the division title in the past three seasons. There's an opportunity for the Vikings to emerge ahead of their rivals, but they'll have to start by finding a franchise quarterback.

Asked what made him believe the Vikings could compete for the postseason amid their transition, Wilf said: "I think it can happen. I believe it can happen. I believe it has happened in other organizations as well, and that's what we think can happen."

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