Crazy Vikings Rumor Gets New Legs

Tigers reciever Malik Nabers 8 runs the ball as the LSU Tigers take on Georgia State in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, November 18, 2023. © SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK.

It surfaced during the 2024 NFL Draft, died off because it seemed wacky, and has now returned.

Crazy Vikings Rumor Gets New Legs

That’s the notion that rookie wide receiver Malik Nabers nearly became a Minnesota Vikings, a theory Pro Football Talk advanced one month ago.

Tigers receiver Malik Nabers 8 after a touchdown as the LSU Tigers take on Georgia State in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, November 18, 2023. © SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Nabers ultimately joined the New York Giants via the sixth overall pick, but according to the Pioneer Press — which may be parroting the PFT hypothesis — Minnesota was in the mix for the young wideout. “Pssst. There was buzz at draft time that the Vikings wanted to move from No. 11 to No. 5, not to pick a quarterback but to get LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers, who was picked No. 6 by the Giants. Had that trade occurred, Jefferson would have been traded and Nabers would have been the No. 1 receiver,” Charley Walters wrote over the weekend.

Nobody anywhere had Minnesota pursuing a wide receiver early in the draft, probably because Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison are more than enough juice at the top of the ticket to generate an explosive offense.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

During the draft’s lead-up, Jefferson trade ideas danced on the internet here and there, usually involving the Cincinnati Bengals due to the LSU connection between Jefferson, Joe Burrow, and Ja’Marr Chase. But then the purple team acquired zero wide receivers in the draft and, more importantly, scooped Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy and Alabama outside linebacker Dallas Turner out of Round 1.

Still, PFT’s Mike Florio said after Round 1 of the draft, “At No. 5, the Chargers, when they took Joe Alt, they passed on an opportunity to trade out of that spot. The team that wanted to move up to that spot, I’m told … the Minnesota Vikings. And not to take J.J. McCarthy. The Vikings, I’m told, were trying to move up to No. 5 to get Malik Nabers.”

Draft Has New Flavor
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports.

Most brushed the theory aside as too bizarre for belief, so Walters either simply reiterated Florio’s reporting a month later or verified and seconded the rumor.

Regarding Jefferson trade hubbub, head coach Kevin O’Connell stated the opposite two weeks ago, insisting a contract extension was afoot. O’Connell noted on May 14th, “I know everything’s gonna get worked out there. Justin knows the love and admiration that I have for him. He knows he’s such a big part of what we do around here. That’s on the field and off the field. Bringing such a great energy to our building every single day.”

vikings offseason
Tennessee Titans general manager Ran Carthon chats with Minnesota general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah during practice in Eagan, Minn., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

And right around the time Florio advanced the initial Nabers scuttlebutt, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said about Jefferson’s impending extension, “You know that friend that has a birthday that takes the month? I think Justin would deserve his whole month if we signed a contract to celebrate it. We’re excited to work towards it. We’re going to keep going. You can’t have all these plans when you talk about all these visions and not talk about the king linchpin, so we’re going to keep working toward that end goal.”

If the Florio + Walters reporting is accurate, it is unclear if Jefferson would’ve been traded to the Giants, Chargers, or elsewhere.

Jefferson will turn 25 in 20 days.

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

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