MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings agreed to acquire quarterback Joshua Dobbs in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals in the hours before the NFL trade deadline on Tuesday, adding another player with starting experience following the season-ending injury to Kirk Cousins.
The deal was pending completion of a physical for Dobbs, who was acquired on Aug. 24 by the Cardinals in a trade with Cleveland. The Vikings will send a 2024 sixth-round draft pick to the Cardinals and receive a conditional 2024 seventh-rounder with Dobbs in return.
“This immediate solution that we found provides us with a really quality player at a time when we were able to go out and get that player without potentially leaving the world of the future,” Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell said.
The Vikings (4-4) also reached an agreement with Jacksonville to trade left guard Ezra Cleveland for a 2024 sixth-round draft pick, pending completion of a physical for Cleveland with the Jaguars. The pick coming to Minnesota originally belonged to Carolina.
Dobbs, who was a fourth-round draft pick out of Tennessee in 2017 by Pittsburgh, will join his seventh team in seven seasons. The 28-year-old started all eight games for the Cardinals (1-7), as a fill-in while Kyler Murray recovers from a knee injury. Murray’s return is imminent after his return to practice on Oct. 18, which was part of the reason why Dobbs was expendable.
For now, rookie Jaren Hall will lead the huddle for the Vikings. The fifth-round draft pick from BYU took over in the fourth quarter in Green Bay after Cousins tore his right Achilles tendon and will make his first career start at Atlanta on Sunday.
“Hopefully Jaren goes out and plays great on Sunday and there’s a lot to build off of there. We're still going to prepare Josh Dobbs like he's not only one snap away, but just as we move forward, what gives us the best possible chance to win," O’Connell said. “We feel comfortable with the depth in that room now, and we can continue to press onward.”
Dobbs had decent moments with the rebuilding Cardinals, particularly during the first three weeks, while passing for 1,569 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s also rushed for 258 yards, the third most in the league among quarterbacks, and three scores.
Dobbs has also spent time with Jacksonville, Detroit and Cleveland. His best quality might be his intelligence, having picked up the offense quickly after arriving in Arizona just two weeks before the regular season started. While setting Volunteers program records for rushing yards and touchdowns by a quarterback, Dobbs also majored in aerospace engineering at Tennessee.
That bodes well for his transition to the Vikings, whose most-experienced in-house option without Cousins was Nick Mullens, who's currently sidelined by a back injury. The Vikings placed Cousins on injured reserve on Tuesday to create an active roster spot. Mullens has been on the list three of the minimum four weeks, as has superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson.
Cleveland, a second-round draft pick in 2020 who will be a free agent next spring, has missed the past two games with a foot injury. Newcomer Dalton Risner has played well in his place, making Cleveland expendable, and Blake Brandel is a trusted backup.
The AFC North-leading Jaguars have had a revolving door at left guard this season, switching from Ben Bartch to Walker Little and then most recently to Tyler Shatley. Little is expected to retake the starting job next week after the bye, with Cleveland providing depth. Jaguars offensive line coach Phil Rauscher also coached Cleveland in his first two years in Minnesota.
Though the job just got immensely more difficult without Cousins, whom the Vikings believed was playing the best football of his 12-year career, there's still hope for staying in contention with Hall considering how effective the defense has been lately and a recent improvement in pass protection. Hall also has a reputed play-caller and quarterback tutor in O'Connell.
“If we go about things the right way there’ll be tremendous opportunity for growth on a play-to-play, drive-to-drive and hopefully game-to-game basis that will allow us to watch Jaren grow before our very eyes,” O'Connell said. “I think he’s physically capable. I think he’s mentally capable. I think he’s made up of the right stuff.”
For all the mystery around Minnesota's long-term plan at quarterback, O'Connell in a news conference after the trade for Dobbs on Tuesday made the team's most pronounced suggestion yet that Cousins could well come back next year despite his expiring contract.
“Kirk Cousins is going to be healthy again. I know he's going to be a free agent after this season, but Kirk knows how I feel about him and that'll be something that hopefully will work itself out,” O'Connell said. “Kirk knows how I feel about Kirk. I think he was playing as well as anybody in the National Football League.”
AP Sports Writers David Brandt and Mark Long contributed.
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