Purple Rumor Mill: Justin Jefferson’s Extension, Cousins’ Off-Ramp, ‘Tearing It Down’

Has Been Kind
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) looks on during warmups before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: 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 June 18th 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: Justin Jefferson’s Extension, Cousins’ Off-Ramp, ‘Tearing It Down’

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

Rumor: Justin Jefferson will be at training camp no matter what, as a contract extension is inevitable.

Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

At minicamp this week, reporters asked Jefferson if he’d attend training camp in July without the plump contract extension, and he offered a blunt, non-interpretive reply, “Yeah.”

He also claimed that his absence from organized team activities (OTAs) wasn’t contract-related. “I had a lot of stuff going on. I mean, they didn’t really, you know, force [me] to come back too much. So, it didn’t seem like I was missing too, too much. But they definitely wanted me back here. Wanted to be back here,” he said.

Jefferson’s mammoth extension in Minnesota is indeed upcoming and only a matter of when. Neither side has implied — at all — any hardships throughout the negotiation process. It’s comin’.

Rumor: Kirk Cousins and the Vikings won’t discuss a contract extension until next March — if at all.

Kirk Cousins on Release of Dalvin Cook & What He Sees In New-Look Defense During Minicamp. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center during 2023 NFL Mandatory Minicamp.

At the same minicamp mentioned above, Cousins was asked Wednesday if extension talks were ongoing, and he replied, “I think we’ll probably talk about the contract next March. Until then, [we’ll] just focus on this season and the job to do right now.”

And there you have it, folks. From the man’s lips, extension chatter between Cousins and the Vikings front office is not ongoing, so the team has the option to part ways with him in 2024 if the 2023 campaign doesn’t go according to plan.

Of course, Cousins could excel during his age-35 season and then extending him could be a no-brainer. But for the first time in his stint with the Vikings, Cousins enters a contract year — unless some unforeseen extension news drops this summer. Unlikely.

Rumor: Despite general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah telling the masses he’s competitively rebuilding the Vikings, they’re really just ‘tearing it down.’

Overhauled Teams
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before a wild card game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Yes, folks insist the Vikings are ‘tearing it down.’ Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio opined on the topic last week, actually titling an article: A year after running it back, the Vikings are tearing it down.

“Whether that’s tanking or strategic rebuilding is a matter of semantics. The Vikings aren’t prioritizing winning as many games as possible in 2023, just like the Cardinals,” Florio argued.

Florio firmly believes Minnesota is ‘mailing it in,’ to an extent, in 2023.

Adofo-Mensah explained his opinion on ‘tanking’ to reporters at the 2023 NFL Combine, “People always talk about, ‘Just tank,’ and in this sport, I think it’s kind of unconscionable to do it for what these players put on the line for our sport.”

He’s also defined his competitive rebuild philosophy in this way, “I think when people look at teams, they sometimes do it in a very binary way. And they ask, ‘Are you either all-in or tearing down and rebuilding?’ And I don’t really look at the world that way.”

“The way we look at it is, we’re trying to navigate both worlds, we’re trying to live in today and tomorrow, or the competitive rebuild — however you want to phrase it or market it — and so I think that’s kind of how we’ve approached this offseason and our time horizons going forward,” Adofo-Mensah elaborated in 2022.

So, to get to the bottom of this mystery, a Vikings fan must ask herself — is it more likely that Mike Florio and others know what’s going on? Or the Vikings general manager?

There’s your answer to ‘Are the Vikings in a full rebuild?’ or ‘Is the team in it to win it this year?’

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.