Purple Rumor Mill: Danielle Hunter’s Future, More Trade-Kirk Smoke from Gronkowski, Saving the Season

Predictions Are Sweet
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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 September 30th edition.

Purple Rumor Mill: Danielle Hunter’s Future, More Trade-Kirk Smoke from Gronkowski, Saving the Season

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.

Here’s the first batch of the week.

Rumor: Danielle Hunter could be the first key player traded if the Vikings have a fire sale.

from Gronkowski
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

If the Vikings lose Sunday to the Carolina Panthers, they’ll be 0-4, and the team’s front office will have the decision to trade assets in preparation for 2024 and beyond or remain convinced the club can turn it around in 2023. The Kansas City Chiefs arrive in Minneapolis the following week, implying an 0-5 start would be afoot.

Danielle Hunter, not Kirk Cousins, would become the most sensical trade candidate, as the 28-year-old pass rusher is scheduled to hit free agency in 5.5 months.

Bleacher Report has included Hunter in its trade rumor mill for a few weeks, and the defender has not left after Minnesota’s embarrassing start. BR’s Kristopher Knox ranked Hunter at No. 3 on his trade-block list and explained, “It’s time for the 0-3 Vikings to start panicking. Minnesota continues to hurt itself with dumb mistakes and costly turnovers, and its defense just isn’t very good. The Vikings need to start stringing together wins, or they’ll need to start looking ahead to 2024.”

Knox nominated the Cleveland Browns and Las Vegas Raiders as landing spots for Hunter.

“Minnesota considered trading pass-rusher Danielle Hunter early in the offseason, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, before working out a revised one-year deal. That contract prohibits the Vikings from using the franchise tag on him in 2024, so now might be the time for the team to cash in via a trade. The 28-year-old would bring a strong return. He amassed 10.5 sacks in 2022 and already has five through the first three weeks of 2023,’ Knox continued.

It’s scary to think about the Vikings pass rush without Hutner, but an 0-5 record would spell doom anyway.

Knox concluded about the Browns and Raiders as theoretical trade partners for Hunter, “If the Browns want to continue building up their impressive defense, they would be a sensible landing spot. Cleveland added former Vikings Za’Darius Smith and Dalvin Tomlinson this offseason and has the second-most cap space in the league. If the Raiders believe they can get back into the playoff picture, they may also be interested in Hunter. Las Vegas has the sixth-most cap space in the NFL and has recorded just five sacks through three weeks.”

On the whole, Hunter is unlikely to be traded, but an 0-5 Vikings team would be a different ball of wax.

Rumor: Rob Gronkowski reiterated his position that Kirk Cousins should be traded to the New York Jets.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports.

Last week, this future Hall of Famer suggested the Vikings should trade Cousins to the Jets if they lost to the Los Angeles Chargers.

That they did.

He’s at it again, endorsing the same trade if Minnesota loses on the road at Carolina. “If, for some reason, the Vikings lose, Kirk Cousins should be shipped out 100%. He should be shipped out to the New York Jets,” Gronkowski told The Up & Adams Show on Wednesday.

“They need to fix that quarterback position this year if they want to win some games,” the former Patriot and Buccaneer added about the Jets quarterback malady.

By the time the Vikings, in theory, would be ready to trade Cousins, New York will probably have a similar record to Minnesota’s. Would the Jets really believe they could fix a 1-5 (or so) record with Cousins?

The San Francisco 49ers, if Brock Purdy gets injured, or the New England Patriots, a team that doesn’t seem to love Mac Jones, seem like wiser trade theories for Cousins — if Minnesota is interested in trading him at all.

Rumor: The Vikings might “Tank for Caleb,” but someone needs to tell Justin Jefferson.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The league’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year — on pace to win the award again in 2023 — is done listening to trade talk surrounding his teammates. Jefferson believes his team is a fixed turnover problem away from resuming winning ways.

“I’m tired of people saying that we’re looking into next season or all of the trades and stuff like that. We’re focused still on this season. We have a lot more games to go, and we have a lot more things to accomplish this season. We’re still focused in, and we still have the same goal as we had before the season. We just need to fix a few things, and I feel like we’ll be back on track,” Jefferson told reporters Thursday, three days before the Vikings take on the winless Panthers.

The Vikings lead the NFL in turnovers and not in a good way — handing the ball to opponents via fumbles and interceptions.

Jefferson also stated, “At the end of the day, it’s not going to be perfect every time. There’s things that you’ve got to go through throughout the season to really tell if you’re going to be a great team or not. We’re handling adversity early in the season with the turnovers and being 0-3, but there is a whole bunch of more games to go.”

It’s more likely for the Vikings to rattle off some wins than to conduct a trade-themed fire sale.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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