The Vikings made this past week, sending recently-acquired pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens for draft picks in the first of what the team hopes are several other cost-cutting moves. Multiple executives who have been in contact with the Vikings believe the team is eager to move several more high-priced veterans who likely do not fit into the team's long-term plans.
Ownership has made some of the highest salary commitments in the NFL in recent years, handing out huge extensions and pushing the salary cap as far as possible with little to show for it, and the team's 1-5 start and dismal prospects on defense leading them to trade a player less than two months after giving up a second-round pick for him and getting back far lower returns (a third-round pick and a fifth round pick). Minnesota likely would have gotten a third-round comp pick in 2022 had it just held on to Ngakoue and let him depart as a free agent in March.
While the team has tried to quell a sense that a firesale is afoot with its public remarks, the reality is the Ngakoue trade sent a distinct signal to other contending clubs and led to an outpouring of inquiries about the team's roster. League sources said it's possible that receiver Adam Thielen is dealt before the deadline, but not likely, while there was an expectation among other executives that Minnesota is very open to moving safety Harrison Smith, left tackle Riley Reiff and tight end Kyle Rudolph if they can find the right takers.
"They try to push Rudolph but the guy we want is (Irv) Smith," one GM said. "They don't want to trade the young guys. But, yeah, they will push out more salary if they can."
"They want to move on from some guys for sure but not the guys we want," another GM said. "They want to cut payroll but I don't know how successful they'll be with that."