The Minnesota Vikings reportedly wanted Justin Fields to be their next franchise quarterback, working the phones and seeing how far they would have to move up to land him. Once the Detroit Lions took Penei Sewell, Minnesota tried to make its move up into to top 10 — presumably to select Fields with the pick.
Minnesota was already reportedly preparing to select Fields if he fell to No. 14 overall, but that was after the Vikings tried to make a deal with the Carolina Panthers to move up to No. 8. Per Panthers Confidential, Carolina was low-balled an offer by Minnesota that convinced them to stay at No. 8 and select cornerback Jaycee Horn — who was the Panthers pick all along.
Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer took the call in the draft room and told the Vikings they were “open-minded.” The Vikings offered their first (No. 14), a third-round pick (No. 90) and a fourth-round pick (No. 143) to move up six spots to No. 8. The Panthers wanted a 2022 first-round pick in the deal, so they declined the offer.
Carolina owner David Tepper told the front office “don’t call us with negative points,” implying the trade offer didn’t meet up to the draft pick trade value chart that is the barometer for completing a deal. Minnesota ended up trading the No. 14 pick and the No. 143 pick to the New York Jets for the No. 23 pick and two third-round picks (No. 66 and No. 86) — after the Chicago Bears moved up nine spots in the draft to select Fields.
The Bears moved up from No. 20, parting ways with that pick, a fifth-round pick (No. 164 overall) and a 2022 first-round pick to the New York Giants in exchange for the No. 11 pick. Clearly Carolina wanted the 2022 first-round pick to pass on selecting Horn at No. 8 overall.
Once the Vikings traded down from No. 14, they selected guard Christian Darrisaw at No. 23, quarterback Kellen Mond at No. 66, and guard Wyatt Davis at No. 86. Minnesota did settle on a quarterback in Mond, as the franchise is clearly preparing past this season.
Over the last three years, Vikings starting quarterback Kirk Cousins is second in the NFL in completion percentage, fifth in touchdown passes, and seventh in passer rating — but Minnesota doesn’t owe Cousins any guaranteed money in 2022 and can save $45 million in salary cap space by terminating his contract. Hence why the Vikings searched for a quarterback in the draft — they just struck out on the opportunity to land Fields.
Minnesota was able to rebuild its offensive line and develop a quarterback in 2021 while Carolina took the player it wanted in Horn. Overall, things worked out for both teams even though it stings for Minnesota to lose Fields to a division rival — specifically because they didn’t give Carolina a 2022 first-round pick to make a deal happen.