Brett Favre, a sudden Aaron Rodgers expert, predicts exit from Packers

It’s hard to pick the best plot line from the Packers’ decision to move up and draft QB Jordan Love in the first round of last week’s NFL draft, but this one is up there: Brett Favre, the legend whose time in Green Bay was eventually cut short by a very similar scenario when the Packers drafted Rodgers, is suddenly the world’s foremost expert on what Rodgers is going through.

It would be interesting enough if Favre was using that position merely to guess at what Rodgers is going through as it relates to his own experience. It’s even better because, as the ol’ gunslinger said in an interview with “The Rich Eisen Show” on Wednesday, he has talked to Rodgers about it already.

And: “I’m not going to talk about all that we talked about,” Favre said, before pretty much telling us all we needed to know about what they talked about. “But he was, let’s just say, surprised that they went in that direction.”

Favre said his “gut” tells him Rodgers will play for another team at some point — and his gut was surely informed, at least in part, by both his own feelings in 2005 when the Packers drafted Rodgers and by his recent conversation with Rodgers.

“I think that (the Packers) burned a bridge that’s going to be hard to overcome,” Favre told Eisen. “At some point, I think it will rear its ugly head.”

Favre also told Sirius XM: “I think maybe two years from now they reassess what the future is and Aaron may be reassessing where he wants to play,” which is interesting since Rodgers has four years left on his contract. Favre got three more years in Green Bay before he was nudged out after the 2007 season to make way for Rodgers.

And if Rodgers is getting advice from Favre, the relationship between Rodgers and Love might be strained similarly to how it was between Favre and Rodgers.

“It’s not Aaron’s job to mentor Jordan Love,” Favre said on Wednesday.

Compare that to what Favre said 15 years ago about Rodgers: “There is no clause that says, ‘You groom the next guy who’s going to take your job, or else.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

It sure feels like Favre is acting as an unofficial spokesperson for Rodgers — an intermediary of sorts. And if that’s the case, this thing could, indeed, get ugly.

Another day, another MLB reopening plan. Will any of them work?

If you’ve lost track of where Major League Baseball stands in its quest to have some sort of season amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, I can’t blame you. It seems as though a new proposal comes out weekly — if not daily — and another just trickled out Tuesday with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reporting on an optimistic plan that would allow teams to play in their own stadiums (albeit with no fans), and in a strange three-division alignment.

I imagine these things leak out for a variety of reasons — including the self-interest of those leaking the information — but none bigger than the desire of those involved to be optimistic about the future. It’s nice to think about baseball being played in some way, shape or form this summer.

Whether it’s realistic is another question. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a New York Times interview Tuesday — a Q&A specifically about the possible resumption of sports — that “I would love to be able to have all sports back. But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet. We might be ready, depending upon what the sport is. But right now, we’re not.”

But it seems pretty clear that no option too far-fetched to be considered by MLB decision-makers. Here is a rundown of what seem to be the most viable and/or discussed plans for an MLB season, along with the benefits, drawbacks and hurdles in each case.

*The home stadium option: Nightengale reports that the latest proposal being considered by MLB would keep teams in their home cities.

Major League Baseball officials have become cautiously optimistic this week that the season will start in late June, and no later than July 2, playing at least 100 regular-season games, according to three executives with knowledge of the talks. They requested anonymity because the plan is still under consideration. And not only would baseball be played, but it would be played in their own major-league ballparks, albeit with no fans.

That does sound … optimistic. There would be three divisions with 10 teams each, eradicating the traditional American and National Leagues. Teams would play each other within those divisions, with the Twins joined by the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers in the Central before an expanded playoff format.

The advantage of this is clear: Players wouldn’t need to be isolated away from their families, and games would at least retain a familiar look — even without fans — on television. That said, the health risk inherent in that advantage is a significant hurdle.

Speaking in general terms in that NYT Q&A, Fauci said: “I’m not saying this is the way to go, but you want to at least consider having players, if they’re going to play, play in front of a TV camera without people in the audience. And then test all the players and make sure they’re negative and keep them in a place where they don’t have contact with anybody on the outside who you don’t know whether they’re positive or negative. That’s going to be logistically difficult, but there’s at least the possibility of doing that. In other words, we said that for baseball, get the players in Major League Baseball, get a couple of cities and a couple of hotels, get them tested and keep them segregated. I know it’s going to be difficult for them not to be out in society, but that may be the price you pay if you want to play ball.”

*The Arizona option: That Fauci quote isn’t a specific endorsement of an idea first floated a few weeks ago to play all games in Arizona, with players and other essential staff sequestered. But it does make it sound like — at least at the moment — that would be the safest option if there are, indeed, games this year.

Under that plan, Arizona’s one MLB stadium (Chase Field) and several surrounding spring training facilities would be used to play all the games. Chase Field has an artificial surface and could host several games a day.

But several prominent players, including Mike Trout, sound less than enthusiastic about the prospect of being quarantined away from their families for months at a time.

When the Arizona plan leaked, the MLB commissioner’s office put out a statement that read: “MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so. While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan.”

*The hubs option: Last week, the flavor of the moment idea involved using Arizona, Florida and Texas as hubs to host 8-12 teams each. This is essentially a similar idea to the Arizona plan, but expanded to more locations.

Much like the divisions plan reported in USA Today, one imagines this plan would focus competition between teams in each location instead of against every other team in MLB. The Arizona plan is the only one that seems to make it feasible to keep the current division and schedule alignment intact by allowing all teams to compete against each other.

*Maybe just a World Cup-style tournament? Yeah, this one is pretty wacky. But it was mentioned in a Jeff Passan 20 Questions piece this week. What if they can’t get things rolling until much later in the summer or fall? What about a two-month tournament? Passan writes:

Everyone wants the closest thing to a 162-game schedule. The absence of that or anything resembling it, however, doesn’t necessarily preclude something truly imaginative from taking place.

“Give us 60 days,” one official said, “and we could run an amazing tournament.”

I thought about it and came up with this idea, which essentially would function as a baseball World Cup. The format: six hubs, five teams per hub. You could choose hub teams by division, which would be easy, or by geographic location with mixed leagues if you want to get really wild.

This might be kind of fun. But it’s hard to imagine getting ready for an entire year just to guarantee every team a small fraction of the regularly allotted games.

In all of this, two things are consistent:

One, MLB seems very determined to have a season. Passan asserts a season of some sort “will” happen and that “nearly everyone along the decision-making continuum … has grown increasingly optimistic that there will be baseball this year.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred has said similar things as well.

Two, every proposal on the table is nothing like a baseball season as we know it and would not involve fans in the stands.

They all are focused on the idea that something is better than nothing and on making the most of a bad situation. The next month or so will give us a lot of clarity as to what — if anything — is possible for MLB this season.

After terrible start, Twins are on upswing in bizarre simulated season

In a normal world, the Twins would be one month into a season filled with great anticipation after last year’s 101-win, 307-homer campaign.

But these times, of course, are anything but normal. That is illustrated most plainly by absence of the season so far. It also shows up, though, in the simulated Twins season being tracked by Baseball Reference and generated by Out Of The Park Baseball.

I’m not saying it’s a good thing that baseball hasn’t started. I am saying it’s maybe a good thing that the actual baseball season hasn’t played out the way the simulated season has (so far). Here are some of the truly bizarre and/or interesting things that have happened in the simulation:

*The Twins started the year 0-4 and dropped to 4-11 with a 17-4 loss at the White Sox. But … they turned their simulated season around the next game with a 20-8 win over Chicago — in 12 innings. Yep, the Twins scored 12 runs in the top of the 12th of that game, starting an 11-4 burst that has them sitting at 15-15 — trailing by a few games both the White Sox and Cleveland, who are off to hot starts.

*Luis Arraez (six games), Marwin Gonzalez (five games) and Eddie Rosario (nine games) have barely played, and I’m assuming it’s due to injury since at least Arraez and Gonzalez were off to hot starts. But four Twins players have started all 30 games: Byron Buxton, Ehire Adrianza, Josh Donaldson and Jorge Polanco. Those last two I might expect. Those first two? Not a chance.

*Hey, guess who is on the roster: Hanley Ramirez! Did the Twins sign him before things were shut down in March? Nope. But apparently they signed him on March 29 in this simulated season, presumably because of all the injuries.

*The Twins have ONLY hit 43 homers in 30 games, a pace for 232 this season. Unacceptable. Max Kepler leads the way with nine, while Nelson Cruz has eight. Buxton has six!

*The starting pitching beyond Jake Odorizzi and Jose Berrios has been shaky. Homer Bailey has lived up to his name, giving up a team-high 10 home runs (though he is 3-3 and has limited damage outside of the long balls). Randy Dobnak is 4-1 but his ERA is near 5. The real trouble has been with Kenta Maeda, who has an 8.28 ERA in his first year with the Twins since the big trade. As a staff, the Twins have allowed 49 home runs — including 32 by the starters. That’s the wrong type of Bomba Squad.

*It looks like Tyler Duffey was promoted to closer recently, even though Taylor Rogers (3.48 ERA) is still pitching decently and appears healthy. Duffey has been lights-out (1.54 ERA), but it’s hard to imagine Rogers being demoted. Tyler Clippard (10.61 ERA) has been a disaster, but Zack Littell (0.89 ERA) has been a revelation.

This is all very, very strange. I look forward to baseball resuming for real at some point — and hopefully, for Twins fans, not quite like this.

When it comes to NFL draft grades, Vikings are best (and Packers are worst)

NFL draft grades are like advance weather forecasts: Even if we concede they aren’t always accurate, we tend to pay attention to them more — and perhaps even believe them more — when they tell us something extreme.

So may I present to you: April 27, 2020 — a forecast high temperature in Minneapolis in the low 70s, about 10 degrees warmer than average.

And also: The collective grades from this past weekend’s NFL draft, in which the Vikings were deemed to be the very best — and the rival Packers were deemed to be the absolute worst.

This has been sorted in the most enjoyable way on Twitter by Rene Bugner: A collection of draft grades for all 32 teams from 13 prominent pundits and/or sites, aggregated to give each team a grade point average based on the 13 grades combined.

The Vikings were draft class valedictorians with a 3.92 GPA. Their 15-pick haul, led by No. 22 overall pick WR Justin Jefferson, received at least an A-minus grade from all but one pundit (who gave them a B+).

Perhaps most notably: Pro Football Focus gave the Vikings an A, and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. — a notoriously tough grader — reserved one of only three grades of A-minus or better for Minnesota.

Looked at another way: Warren Sharp of Sharp Football notes that the Vikings added the most value via their series of swaps for the 2020 and 2021 drafts.

The Vikings had a ton of picks with which to work and seemed to have analytics in mind with a lot of them. Their preparation looked to be strong; whether these guys can actually play, of course, remains to be seen.

And on the other end of the spectrum: The Packers. They drafted like I often do when compiling a fantasy football roster: Forgetting to do any prep work whatsoever, cramming at the last minute, then accidentally picking too many guys at the same position. Wait! I already have a quarterback!

Their cumulative GPA was a dismal 1.31. if this was college, they wouldn’t even be able to stay eligible. That awful mark was compiled by way of a D+, six Ds and one F (from Rotoworld’s Thor Nystrom, who also gave the Vikings an A+).

PFF doled out one of those Ds — the worst grade on the site — and Seth Galina wrote of the first-round shocker pick of QB Jordan Love (whom the Packers traded UP to get): “For (Aaron) Rodgers and a team that went to a conference championship game mere months ago, it’s a total waste of impact in 2020.”

In Sharp’s analysis, the Packers were very low on the draft capital value scale. Only seven teams fared worse.

In truth with all of this, of course, is that two days after the draft ended the grade for every team is more realistically an incomplete. These grades are based on what everyone thinks they know, and if it turns out the consensus was wrong on enough players things will look quite different months and years from now. If Love, for instance, extends the run of QB dominance for the Packers in three years, they largely will be vindicated.

But for now, there is this certainty in these uncertain times: Those who follow these things closely say the Vikings did the best job and the Packers did the worst job in the draft.

Abnormal NFL draft felt normal — and then the Packers lost their minds

If the narrative leading up to the NFL draft was how different it would seem while being conducted remotely, the main takeaway from watching the first round unfold Thursday was just how normal everything actually felt.

Which — dramatic brand-focused voice-over … in these difficult times — feels quite good.

Here are some other thoughts from four hours, 32 picks and a whole lot of screens:

*Of the major United States pro sports leagues, the NFL has been the most dedicated to business as usual in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Whether that was as a result of the NFL’s head down, brand-over-everything-else mentality or more a function of the league being the furthest away in a calendar sense from returning to the field of any of the leagues is debatable.

But it made me wonder how much the league would delve into our shared reality during the draft broadcast. The answer: A lot more than I imagined it would. The first 10 minutes were devoted to a montage with the message of “hope,” narrated by Peyton Manning, as well as a scripted message from Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Images of health care workers and an abandoned-looking Las Vegas — where the draft was supposed to be — dominated the screen. A moment of silence was observed for the lives lost to the disease.

A little of the messaging was a bit overwrought for my tastes, but overall I thought the NFL and the broadcast handled the subject with good taste and with more depth than I would have imagined.

*Among the visual treats of the new format was a flurry of live shots from the homes not only of prospects but of NFL coaches and executives. The decor ran the full gamut, as one would expect.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor, one of the earliest live shots, looked like he was in a small apartment or extended stay hotel. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was on his yacht.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel had a house full of teenagers dressed in costumes. But was one of them inadvertently seen going to the bathroom while on camera? Nope, Vrabel said. He was just sitting on a stool. Yes, he actually addressed it.

Well, at least we can still make fun of Giants GM Dave Gettleman for putting on a mask shortly after New York made its pick, right? Nope, sorry. He explained that quite soberly as well, as a function of being a cancer survivor with a young IT worker in his house.

*For as unusual as those scenes were, though, about 80% of the broadcast felt pretty much normal. It was easy going in to focus on everything that would feel different — no stage, no players in person, no handshakes, no (real) booing of Goodell — but as we discussed on the post-first round Access Vikings podcast, much of a draft is pre-packaged clips, talking head analysis and live shots inside the homes of prospects.

Those were all still in play Thursday, even if the poor pundits had to take turns talking instead of having natural banter (and Louis Riddick seemed to be on an unfortunate 3-second delay).

*Indeed, everything felt quite normal and routine. There were no major discernible technical difficulties. Teams generally didn’t reach for players outside of first-round grades — perhaps a function of having less chances to overthink what they were doing. The Vikings, as they often do, traded down with the second of their two first-round picks. Through 25 slots it was, well, a little boring.

So, I think we need to say thanks to the Packers. On our live Zoom video, they were all we could talk about.

By pretty much losing their minds and trading UP to get QB Jordan Love at No. 26, Green Bay provided the highlight of the night. I don’t know, but if I was running a team coming off a 13-3 season and NFC title game appearance, and I was desperate to add offensive talent for my future Hall of Fame quarterback, I might have drafted a receiver or some other player who could help in 2020.

Sure, Green Bay followed a similar script with great success 15 years ago with Brett Favre and the drafting of Aaron Rodgers. But the chances of it working again are — sorry, holders of worthless stock certificates — not increased by the fact that it worked once. There’s a much better chance that Love will be mediocre.

It was a borderline criminally bad pick, and I say that as someone who wanted (and still wants) the Vikings to add a quarterback with a high-value pick (third round?) in this draft. Kirk Cousins is not Rodgers.

But for entertainment value? It was the best thing that happened all night.

We’re having a live, virtual Star Tribune NFL draft experience. Join us?

It’s doubtful (at best) that the New York-city based rappers from Wreckx-n-Effect could have known, at the time of the release of their seminal 1992 hit “Rump Shaker,” about a future that involved widespread video conferencing – let alone the global health pandemic that turbo-charged its use.

And yet somehow they had the foresight to open that song with this prescient line: “All I wanna do is zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zoom.”

Here in the Star Tribune sports department, we are taking that message to heart and hosting – via Zoom — our own virtual NFL draft live experience Thursday night. We’ll be broadcasting that video live on the Star Tribune Facebook page starting at 8:30 p.m. – around the middle of the first round – and carrying you through the expected Vikings picks at No. 22 and No. 25.

Several Star Tribune writers and editors, along with a handful of fans, will be on the video providing analysis – plus, we hope, a lot of humorous banter — as the NFL draft unfolds.

In other words, it should be a lot like the meetings many of you are in every day while you work from home – except, you know, really fun and good.

We’d love it if you would follow along with us and watch. Send us questions to answer. Rejoice or vent with us in real time as the Vikings make the picks that will either launch them on the road to the Super Bowl or send them spiraling into Les Steckel-esque putridity.

It’s going to be a strange and wonderful draft. Let’s experience it together.

ESPN analyst Todd McShay has coronavirus and will miss NFL draft

An NFL draft being conducted virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic already figured to have a much different look and feel compared to the same event in past years.

But that sentiment — and the impact of the pandemic — came even further into focus Thursday when ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay announced on social media that he has coronavirus and will not be working the draft this year.

“For now I just want to say I miss you all — my teammates at ESPN who have been incredibly supportive, my friends in the league and the fans who have made the draft what it is today,” McShay tweeted.

He added that he expects to recover and praised first responders along with health care workers for their role in treating the disease.

McShay, who has been with ESPN since 2006, was slated to be on the ABC draft broadcast. ESPN and NFL Network are running a simulcast of the same draft content while ABC has a different program. Both start at 7 p.m.

Former Vikings WR Percy Harvin says he wants to make NFL comeback

The Vikings figure to be doing their final draft evaluations on a number of wide receivers in their early 20s in hopes of the likely intersection of opportunity and need leading to an upgrade at that position during the NFL draft Thursday-Saturday. We talked about that at length on the most recent Access Vikings draft preview podcast.

But another receiver a decade older than those prospects has also tossed his helmet back into the ring.

Former Vikings standout Percy Harvin told ESPN that he is “ready to return to the NFL” and has “that itch” to return to a league in which he hasn’t played since 2016.

He says he’s been training with a former Olympian. A video of Harvin sprinting accompanied a tweet by ESPN’s Josina Anderson announcing the Harvin news. He does look quite fit, though the comments on the sprint — which is shown in slow-motion — amusingly note that he looks slow because of the camera speed.

I’m not sure if this should make you feel old or young, but Harvin is ONLY 31. He was a huge part of the Vikings’ success in 2009 as a rookie. In 2012, he was a legit MVP candidate for the first half of the season before injuries and dissatisfaction with the Vikings ultimately led to him being traded in March 2013.

(That was the first time Vikings GM Rick Spielman said he wasn’t going to trade a receiver, only to do it shortly thereafter. The same thing happened last month with Stefon Diggs).

His post-Vikings career was, to put it bluntly, a mess. He played four seasons for three teams, amassing just 724 yards receiving before leaving the league in 2016 after playing with Buffalo. In an interview last year with Bleacher Report, Harvin said he was high during every game he played in his NFL career.

But Harvin is pitching a chance at redemption.

“My body is feeling good,” Harvin said, per ESPN. “Mentally I’m better. My family is good. The timing is right.”

Those first three points could be true and I hope they are. But that last part is questionable. When healthy and engaged, Harvin was a breathtaking player. But he’s also eight years removed from his last productive season and will be competing against both established NFL receivers and a highly touted draft class for a shot on a roster during a time when NFL teams are idled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Harvin get some sort of chance. Harvin is one of the three most electrifying Vikings offensive players of the last 25 years, with Randy Moss and Adrian Peterson being the others.

With players like that, you never say never.

After messy exits, would Vikings try another Diggs (or Moss or Winfield)?

The most intriguing Vikings subplot in this week’s NFL draft involves a familiar name (or two or three).

The Vikings have two first-round picks and a certified need at cornerback after the departures of Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander this offseason. The first of those picks, No. 22 overall, was obtained from Buffalo in the trade for wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Longtime NFL writer Peter King, in his mock draft, suggests that the Vikings at that spot will take a big-bodied corner (6-2) who can stand up to the types of big, physical receivers who dominate the NFL these days. And he played at Alabama? All the better.

That corner’s name? Trevon Diggs. Yes, the brother of Stefon.

Normally that would be an interesting bit of symmetry and not much more than that. But given everything that has transpired in the last year the situation raises even more compelling questions.

Stefon Diggs paved the way for his exit with a disgruntled (but productive) 2019 season and an increasingly aggressive campaign of tweets about his unhappiness once the season ended. Most trades involving a productive player in his prime tend to have a degree of tension, but the Diggs situation felt elevated. So knowing how it ended here, would the Vikings be hesitant to draft his brother? And would Trevon have a perception of the Vikings that might make him reluctant to want to be picked by Minnesota?

We talked about it during Part 4 of our five-part draft preview series on the Access Vikings podcast. It’s a valid question — one flagged by King, in fact, in his mock draft. He wrote: This might be overthinking, but I wonder if being Stefon Diggs’ younger brother would bug GM Rick Spielman or coach Mike Zimmer. It certainly would be the first question I’d ask at the post-draft press conference.

Siblings can have vastly different personalities, so it hardly feels like a deal-breaker. (And it should be noted: I always liked Diggs as a person when he was with the Vikings. Even as things clearly turned sour last season he was a thoughtful and engaging interview subject).

But could it be a tie-breaker? If Diggs is one of two corners the Vikings like equally at No. 22 or 25, would the Vikings go the other direction away from Diggs?

To a lesser degree, a similar question could be asked about two other familiar names in this year’s draft: Antoine Winfield Jr. and Thaddeus Moss. Both are the sons, of course, of former Vikings stars Antoine Winfield Sr. and Randy Moss.

Both of those players had rather unceremonious exits from the organization. Moss, like Diggs, was traded in his prime after tensions grew between the sides. And he was dumped again after just four games in 2010. Winfield was cut shortly before free agency in 2013 and was reportedly confused and blindsided by the move at the time.

The Vikings and Moss have mended fences to a certain degree, our Ben Goessling noted on the podcast. Thaddeus Moss is a tight end — not a major position of need for the Vikings after drafting Irv Smith Jr. last season — projected to go in the fourth round. Winfield Jr., of course, was a standout safety for the Gophers. But with Anthony Harris signed this season and still in purple, plus with Harrison Smith still dominating the other safety spot, taking Winfield with a premium pick seems less likely.

Still, it is interesting that there are three high-profile prospects related to former Vikings standouts who left here on far-from-perfect terms — and that one of them, at least, could provide a real dilemma on draft night.

Vikings have reported interest in OT Trent Williams, but does it make sense?

The Vikings are looking to upgrade their offensive line in 2020, a subject on which I could probably just do a “ctrl+c” to copy and paste everything written before the drafts in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 ad infinitum.

It makes quite a bit of sense for the Vikings to pick a lineman — particularly a tackle — with one of their two first round picks Thursday, and that was the subject of Part III of our five-part Access Vikings podcast draft preview that was posted Monday morning.

The No. 22 pick carries a cap hit in 2020 of $2.43 million, for example, and seems like the most logical way for the cap-strapped Vikings to upgrade a perennial deficiency. After years of neglecting the offensive line in the draft, the Vikings and GM Rick Spielman have spent at least a third round pick in each of the last three drafts (center/guard Pat Elflein, third round in 2017; tackle Brian O’Neill, second round in 2018; and center Garrett Bradbury, first round in 2019) in an attempt to shore up the line.

But those picks also underscore the tenuous nature of depending on the draft. Elflein had a promising rookie season but has been hampered by injury and regression; O’Neill looks like he could be a longtime anchor; Bradbury was a mixed bag in 2019 and was pushed around often by elite interior defensive linemen.

Acquiring a veteran would be much closer to a sure thing. And an interesting report emerged recently from a Washington-based podcast.

Veteran writer John Keim, who covers Washington and the NFL for ESPN, said on his podcast two days ago that the Vikings could be a significant suitor in a deal for disgruntled tackle Trent Williams.

I know Minnesota was definitely one of the teams interested,” Keim said on the show. “I think they’d probably be the team to watch. Whether they get him or not, I don’t know.

Williams has been unhappy for a while — including a lengthy holdout in 2019 — and per veteran NFL writer Peter King heads a list of players likely to be traded this week during the draft.

Williams protected Kirk Cousins’ blind side quite nicely when they were teammates in Washington. Williams ranked in the top six among tackles in pass blocking efficiency (per Pro Football Focus) in each of Cousins’ three seasons as a starter in Washington from 2015-17.

But Williams turns 32 before the 2020 season starts and is a free agent after the season ends. And he’s looking for a big money extension — hey, maybe ONLY $16 million a year and not $20 million a year, his agent recently said — as part of any trade.

So does this make any sense at all for the Vikings, who have seemingly been committed to getting younger and shedding salary this offseason?

It likely would require dealing draft picks and doing a certain amount of cap gymnastics, whereby Williams’ scheduled hit in 2020 ($14.5 million) was significantly lowered and most of the value was nudged into the back part of the deal where the Vikings have a little more flexibility. The Vikings don’t tend to structure deals quite like that because it causes problems in future seasons.

But maybe Williams would be the exception: a cornerstone tackle to pair with O’Neill who would give Cousins the security to perhaps take another step forward.

Until the Vikings have an offensive line that transcends “hopefully adequate” and becomes at least above-average, it’s hard to imagine them being serious contenders to make a Super Bowl run.

Maybe that cornerstone player could be acquired in the 2020 draft without stressing an already fragile salary cap. But it’s easy to see how an organization that doesn’t have all the time in the world to take steps forward could be tempted by more of a sure thing — money problems and all.