Purple Rumor Mill: Danielle Hunter’s Price, Cousins ‘Manipulated,’ Cook’s No to MIA

Vikings May Move on from Danielle Hunter
Danielle Hunter

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 July 23rd edition.

Purple Rumor Mill: Danielle Hunter’s Price, Cousins’ Manipulated,’ Cook’s No to MIA

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

Rumor: Alex Highsmith’s recent contract extension reset Danielle Hunter’s would-be asking price.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers afforded pass rusher Alex Highsmith a four-year, $68 million extension this week, or $17 million annually.

Highsmith notched an unforeseen 14.5 sacks in 2022 and is becoming one of the league’s brightest, if not unsung, stars. The $17 million per year actually feels a little low.

How does this apply to Hunter, who held out of Vikings minicamp in June due to contract matters? Well, Highsmith’s $17 million per season is probably the lower bowl of Hunter’s asking price. ESPN released EDGE rusher rankings recently, and Hunter was nowhere to be found in the Top 10 per coaches, executives, and scouts.

Hunter’s price tag is likely between $17 million and $22 million.

Rumor: Patrick Mahomes is ‘manipulating’ Kirk Cousins via kind words.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

This one was born at Pro Football Talk.

Mike Florio wrote on Friday, “Based on what we learned about Mahomes in the Quarterback series, there’s another potential element at play here. Week Five. Chiefs at Vikings. Mahomes is smart enough to say nothing that will make Cousins circle that game even more aggressively than he already has. Look at how Mahomes worked pass rushers in the Quarterback series. He admitted that he routinely compliments them on their efforts because he wants them to like him, so that they won’t be inclined to try to hit him harder than they do.”

Mahomes has complimented Cousins in the past — long before any Netflix show or impending one-on-one matchup — even stating he studied Cousins as a means to improve his personal skillset.

“That same mindset applies here. Mahomes is working Cousins, knowing that in an ultra-competitive AFC, it’s critical for the Chiefs to go to Minnesota and find a way to win,” Florio continued.

Florio also opined, “If Kirk likes Mahomes, maybe Kirk won’t make an exception to his every-Tuesday-off approach when the Chiefs game is approaching — and when Mahomes is spending a big chunk of his own day off preparing to go beat Cousins.”

So, the league’s MVP is a) Manipulating a veteran QB with Machiavellian tendencies b) Sincerely believes his peer is underrated c) Both.

We’ll stick with Option B.

Rumor: Dalvin Cook declined the Miami Dolphins latest contract offer.

The Vikings 2022 Offense by the Numbers: After Week 6
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

Two weeks ago, ESPN Jeff Darlington claimed Cook was uninterested in the Dolphins latest offer.

Since then, Vegas betting odds have shifted to the New England Patriots as the favorites to sign Cook. The New York Jets also remain hot and heavy in the Cook rumor mill, and Cook has actually retweeted a lot of ‘Jets stuff’ in the past few weeks.

It’s probably a three-way race between Miami, New York, and New England, with dark horses like the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, and Denver Broncos peeking at Cook.

Perhaps Cook gained some clarity this week when three NFL general managers refused to wiggle off the franchise tags of Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard. His asking price in 2023 should probably be close to $5 million or $6 million, not his alleged $10 million asking price in mid-June.

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.