Purple Rumor Mill: Mass Exodus of Popular Vikings, Irv’s Return, Nick Mullens

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

VikingsTerritory’s Purple Rumor Mill is a two-day chronicle each week. All the week’s rumors are lassoed and plopped in two spots — articles on Saturday and Sunday — for review. Today is the January 7th edition.

Remember — rumors are rumors. What you read on weekends in these pieces is what the world is talking about pertaining to the Vikings, not necessarily items that will come to fruition.

Purple Rumor Mill: Mass Exodus of Popular Vikings, Irv’s Return, Nick Mullens

Rumor: Multiple popular Vikings, including Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, and Dalvin Cook, could depart the team in the coming months.

Exodus of Popular Vikings
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

This rumor has been whispered for about a month now. Thielen, Kendricks, and Cook are high-priced veterans and could reasonably be approached for contract restructuring or paycuts this offseason.

And it’s those guys because their 2023 cap hits tabulate about $46 million. Those men are also locker room leaders, and it might be odd to move on from all of them (if it came to that).

It is unclear if any of the men will restructure or take pay reductions. But generally speaking, all three returning to the Vikings with the same contracts is unlikely.

Rumor: Irv Smith is back after missing nine weeks.

The Vikings Most 'Intriguing' Player, According to PFF
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

Alas, Smith has returned.

He’ll be activated for Sunday’s game at the Bears, although it’s uncertain if he’ll play a large role. T.J. Hockenson is the undisputed TE1 now, and it will be intriguing to see how the Vikings use Smith.

Smith suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 9 and has been out since. He’s a welcome addition for the Vikings playoff push, which begins next week.

Rumor: Nick Mullens will receive substantial playing time even though Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell stated starters will play.

Purple Rumor Mill: Mullens as Shoo-In, 5 RBs on Active Roster, Daniel Carlson Regrets
Nick Mullens

This one has been quite the detective mystery.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell said Monday that he “plans to play” starters and hasn’t really backed off thereafter. But the Vikings need the Arizona Cardinals to beat the San Francisco 49ers for the Bears-Vikings game to mean anything, and that, of course, is a longshot.

But Mullens has been taking more snaps than usual at practice this week. So, perhaps O’Connell will pull Vikings starters if they hop to a 14+ point lead.

Expect an undefined pitch count for starters — it’s the best bet.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).