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Ezra Cleveland’s contract extension justifies Vikings trade to Jaguars

The Minnesota Vikings made the difficult decision to trade left guard Ezra Cleveland to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth-round pick in 2024.

When the move was made, it was an odd one on the surface because Cleveland was the starter at left guard. Dalton Risner stepped in and it was a signal that Cleveland wasn’t a part of the long-term plans for the Vikings. On top of the compensation, the move saved around $1 million in salary cap space.

Even so, trading him for a sixth-round pick, which was from the Carolina Panthers, felt like a slight return. On Thursday morning, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Cleveland signed a three-year, $28.5 million deal. That would have earned the Vikings a projected fifth-round pick in the compensatory formula.

If the Vikings were to get a compensatory pick, it would be in 2025, which right now is worth one round less, a compensatory sixth-round pick. Future draft picks are devalued by a round because they are a future asset. Taking the top pick in the sixth round is a positive gain for the Vikings.

It would have been nice to get a larger return in real-time (a fourth-round pick felt like good value), but the market can be fishy like that. It ended up being a good trade for both sides.

Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire