Reports immediately following the 2021 NFL Draft indicated that the Minnesota Vikings explored the possibility of trading up from the No. 14 pick, likely for Justin Fields or Rashawn Slater. But after working the phones and not finding a deal to their liking, the Vikings wound up moving down to No. 23 and picked up Christian Darrisaw, Kellen Mond, and Wyatt Davis in the process.
This week, proof of one specific phone call emerged in the form of a video released by the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers held the No. 8 overall pick. At that point, Fields and Slater were both still on the board, along with DeVonta Smith and every single defensive player in the draft. The Vikings called and offered No. 14, No. 90, and No. 143 to move up, but weren't willing to part with their 2022 first-rounder. That offer was met with a one-word response in the Panthers' draft room: "No."
The Panthers ended up staying put and taking cornerback Jaycee Horn. Three picks later, the Bears gave up their 2022 first and more to move from 20 to 11 to get Fields.
In the wake of this clip emerging, some have wondered if the Vikings trading for Yannick Ngakoue in 2020 — and losing their second-round pick (No. 45 overall) in the process — cost them here. The theory being that having that pick would've improved their ability to make Carolina an offer they would've accepted.
I don't think that's the case. If the Vikings really, truly wanted Fields, they could've gotten it done, whether by offering multiple thirds or 2022 picks or whatever it would've taken. To me, this was just a case of Rick Spielman and Rob Brzezinski trying to see if the Panthers were desperate to move down. They made a low-ball offer (the Panthers would've lost the deal based on the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart) but weren't willing to give up any more than that.
The Vikings did well in trading down from 14 to 23 and picking up two additional thirds, but only time will tell if they end up regretting not being more aggressive to go get Fields. With the former Ohio State QB now in their division, that storyline is going to be a big one to track in the coming years.
The entire 35-minute video from the Panthers is worth a watch if you want to know more about how the draft works:
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