Purple Rumor Mill: Danielle Hunter Trade Hubbub, a New RB1, the “2024 Plan?”

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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 March 19th 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: Danielle Hunter Trade Hubbub, a New RB1, the “2024 Plan?”

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

Rumor: The Vikings are taking calls on a Danielle Hunter trade.

Danielle Hunter Trade
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Longtime Vikings insider Judd Zulgad said on SKOR North‘s Purple Daily YouTube show this week that the Vikings have “gotten calls” about a Danielle Hunter trade. That’s really the only spot where the rumor has been sourced.

Hunter is 28 and in need of a new contract. He totally flourished in 2022 after getting his footing underneath him inside a 3-4 defense for the first time. If Minnesota does trade Hunter, they’d have to attach a post-June-1st designation to the deal, as otherwise, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah would lose $5.7 million on the 2023 salary cap — not ideal.

Teams are probably salivating to land Hunter via trade, but what would the Vikings do at EDGE rusher without him? Roll with Marcus Davenport and Patrick Jones? Hope Za’Darius Smith changes his mind about leaving? Draft a new EDGE rusher with the 23rd overall pick?

Hunter is more likely to get extended than leave in a trade.

Rumor: Alexander Mattison is on tap to become the Vikings RB1 in 2023.

Purple Rumor Mill: Mattison's Role, Jefferson as OPOY, Cousins' Odd Dynamic
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Indeed, the Vikings awarded Mattison a two-year, $8 million contract this week, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be a bellcow RB1 in 2023. The Vikings must decide Dalvin Cook’s fate foremost. Then, they drafted Ty Chandler in the 2022 NFL Draft. And they could still sign another bargain-bin free agent.

Mattison will be around in 2023 and probably the man to take the first hand-off in September. But you should start adjusting to the “running by committee” philosophy because it’s about to invade the Vikings for the first time — arguably ever.

Minnesota has encountered 16 consecutive years of Adrian Peterson and Dalvin Cook but now appears poised to do the RB committee thing, which is not bad news.

Expect an equitable carry-load among Mattison and Chandler in 2023. Adofo-Mensah might even draft another running back in April, particularly if Cook is traded.

Rumor: The Vikings aren’t totally invested in 2023 and are instead eyeing 2024 as the beginning of a new championship window.

Have the Vikings Ever Been This Overlooked?
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

The “2024 plan” is just a new vehicle for folks desperately wanting to turn the page on the Kirk Cousins era. Because Cousins’ is not under contract in 2024, the idea involves the Vikings using 2023 as a springboard to life after Cousins and implies that 2023 won’t have Super Bowl contendership stakes.

Somehow, by cutting ties with expensive veterans like Eric Kendricks and Adam Thielen, the “2024 plan” crowd talked itself into believing 2023 is just a season with 8-9 or so written all over it.

Of course, the Vikings transactions affirm otherwise — they very much want to reach the postseason and contend for a Super Bowl — via signing Byron Murphy, Marcus Davenport, Josh Oliver, and Dean Lowry.

And there’s also the pesky matter of Cousins’ recent cap conversion. The Vikings shoved $28.5 million in dead cap money from Cousins’ deal onto the 2024 salary cap — not something a club does if it’s “clearing the books” for [you guessed it] 2024.

The 2024 season may indeed be markedly different than 2023, especially with Cousins possibly gone, but that doesn’t mean Adofo-Mensah has “mailed it in” for 2023. Nowhere close to it.

The “2024 plan” is an example of something a few people want to happen — and they’ll talk about it nonstop — ignoring evidence to the contrary playing out before their very eyes. It symbolizes the end of Cousins in purple, a mentality yearned for by about 25% of the Vikings fanbase.

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.