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3 trade destinations for Trey Lance

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell put each team in a tier, and came up with who will be interested in Trey Lance’s services

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

If the 49ers end up trading Trey Lance, they’d be doing so knowing that backup quarterback Sam Darnold has an extensive injury history.

NFL Insider Jordan Schultz said he spoke with several NFL executives to gauge what Lance’s potential value is, and he believes it’s an early Day 3 pick, and could potentially turn into something higher.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell listed a whopping seven teams who should be interested in Lance’s services, but believes a quarter of the league should consider Lance. The top candidate? The Minnesota Vikings:

They have a blank slate staring them in the face at quarterback. Kirk Cousins is 35 and a free agent after this season. Minnesota used a fifth-round pick on Jaren Hall in April’s draft, but it would be a major surprise if it moved forward with Hall as the starter in 2024. Trading for Lance would give the Vikings their first post-Cousins candidate on offense, and if they do fall out of the playoff race this season, Lance could start seeing snaps in December. They’re the best candidate of the bunch.

The Vikings own their first and second round picks in the 2024 draft, but traded their third and fourth round picks for tight end T.J. Hockensen in next year’s draft.

The Buccaneers recently used a second round pick on a quarterback, but he was beaten out by Baker Mayfield during this training camp:

Baker Mayfield just beat out Kyle Trask to be their starter. Mayfield was the league’s worst quarterback last season, while Trask has thrown nine regular-season passes since being drafted in Round 2 in 2021. The Bucs will likely be in the quarterback market next offseason, so trading for Lance would give them an option to consider at the end of 2023 and into 2024.

Tampa Bay owns all of their 2024 draft picks except for their fifth-rounder. The Bucs are likely to be one of the league’s worst teams, so, getting a second-rounder in return for Lance would be tempting for the Niners front office. I’d ask for edge rusher Joe Tryon, as he has immense upside and has two years left on his rookie contract.

The Falcons were the final team in Barnwell’s “Tier 1” teams to acquire Lance:

They are full steam ahead with Desmond Ridder, but the 2022 third-rounder averaged 6.2 yards per attempt in his first four starts last season. He deserves time to figure things out and will get it as Atlanta’s Week 1 starter, but the Falcons spent heavily on their defense and have too much talent on offense to settle in a wide-open NFC South. Adding Lance would allow coach Arthur Smith to integrate the quarterback into the team’s rushing attack, as he did with Marcus Mariota a year ago. This might be more likely to happen around Halloween if Ridder struggles through an uneven September and October.

Lance would fit like a glove in Arthur Smith’s play-action system. He’d also lean on Lance’s legs. Ridder left a lot to be desired as a quarterback, and doesn’t possess half the upside Trey does. Atlanta is a team that should take a long look at Lance.

Lance is younger than Titans second-round pick Will Levis, and Steelers second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett, among others. But the only way for him to improve is by playing in actual games.

The 49ers face a difficult decision in determining whether improving their team with a player now is worth “giving up” on Lance’s future. It’s a choice I do not envy.