Purple Rumor Mill: Za’Darius + Clearing Cap Space, Schedule Difficulty, Asamoah Endorsement

Smith Unveils
Matt Krohn-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 May 14th 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: Za’Darius + Clearing Cap Space, Schedule Difficulty, Asamoah Endorsement

Here’s the second batch of the week. Yesterday’s can be read here.

Rumor: The Vikings traded Za’Darius Smith to the Cleveland Browns to get ready for a “2024 window.”

Outcry over
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

This one is circulating the internet — and is laughable.

The Vikings traded Za’Darius Smith because he didn’t want to play for the team any longer. He said so personally on Twitter nine weeks ago. So, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could either play hardball with Smith, or trade him for some draft picks while saving money.

The idea of Smith getting jettisoned to “clear cap space for 2024” is downright silly. Minnesota could’ve parted ways with him next offseason for the same savings. He wasn’t traded to tighten the belt for 2024. The theory is foolish. He was offloaded to the Browns because he wanted to leave. It happens.

Rumor: Minnesota’s 2023 schedule is brutal.

Clearing Cap
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

This depends on the source or the beholder.

Based on opponents’ 2022 wins and losses, the Vikings have the 18th-trickiest schedule in the NFL. But per outfits like Sharp Football Analysis, which is more in-depth than wins and losses from the previous year, Minnesota has the league’s ninth-toughest schedule.

Long story short — the schedule is not easy. The Vikings have eight home games and nine trips on the road. They face the Chiefs, Eagles, Bengals, 49ers, and Chargers. Don’t fool yourself into thinking Minnesota has it easy in 2023.

Rumor: Through their actions, the Vikings have endorsed second-year defender Brian Asamoah as a starting linebacker.

Biggest Winner
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Other than Troy Reeder, Adofo-Mensah signed no free-agent linebackers. Then, he didn’t draft any in April. Ivan Pace Jr. came aboard via undrafted free agency, but that’s about it for non-Asamoah plans.

Too, Minnesota said goodbye to Eric Kendricks. Almost by default now, Asamoah must start in 2023, probably next to Jordan Hicks.

Based on how the roster is constructed, Asamoah appears on deck for starting linebacking duty, whether he’s good or not. Otherwise, the Vikings would have to explore a free agent like Deion Jones, Kyle Van Noy, or Zach Cunningham. If Brian Flores is content with Asamoah and Hicks, that should be a decent rubberstamp.

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 Sal Spice. His Viking obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.