Purple Rumor Mill: Baker Mayfield in Purple, Explosive Draft Trade, The Raiders and Kirk?

Kim Klement Neitzel-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 January 27th edition.

Purple Rumor Mill: Baker Mayfield in Purple, Explosive Draft Trade, The Raiders and Kirk?

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: Baker Mayfield could be a “bridge quarterback” for the 2024 Vikings.

Mayfield in Purple
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

This one — Mayfield to Minnesota — is slightly out in the rumor mill, but it doesn’t make much sense. Via Reddit boardsYouTube fodder, and even Sports Illustrated, Mayfield possibly joining the Minnesota Vikings as a patchover quarterback surfaced this week.

SI.com’s Will Ragatz wrote about Mayfield and the Vikings, “He threw for over 4,000 yards with 28 touchdowns and ten picks, earning a spot as a finalist for the comeback player of the year award. Now that Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales has been hired as Carolina’s head coach, Mayfield seems likely to head elsewhere in free agency. He might be rather interested in playing under Kevin O’Connell and throwing to the Vikings’ weapons.”

Because Daniel Jones set the market for average-to-decent quarterbacks last offseason, Mayfield will fetch about $28-$40 million annually per his next contract. The Vikings are already on the hook for $28.5 million in dead cap funds thanks to restructuring Kirk Cousins’ contract last year. That money has already been paid to Cousins and will now be reflected in the Vikings’ budget in 2024. It’s not a down payment for future performance; it’s finishing the bill from his last contract. Accounting for $28.5 million in dead Cousins cap, plus adding a cool $35 million for Mayfield, seems downright foolish.

Moreover, if Minnesota wants quarterback performance on par or better than Mayfield’s, well, it will simply re-sign Cousins. That’s how this works.

Rumor: The Vikings could trade up for Drake Maye in April.

Network Has Explosive
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

Pro Football Network‘s Joe Broback published a new mock draft on Thursday, the splashiest of them all for the Vikings to date, with Minnesota drafting North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye after a seismic trade with rival Chicago Bears.

Broback envisioned this Vikings trade with the Bears:

Vikings Get —
2024 1st Overall Pick
2025 6th Rounder

Bears Get —
2024 1st-Round Pick
2025 1st-Round Pick
2024 2nd-Round Pick
2025 2nd-Round Pick
2024 4th-Round Pick

A king’s ransom to be sure, Minnesota would then spend the 1st overall pick on Maye, and voila, the quarterback of the future is secured, albeit at a beefy price.

Broback explained, “There’s a growing belief that Minnesota wants to move up in this draft, but at what cost? To get Drake Maye or Caleb Williams, the Vikings give up significant draft capital. How much remains to be seen, but it’s likely they’ll need more if they trade with Chicago.”

On the “growing belief,” Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling joined Paul Allen’s show on KFAN this week and explained Minnesota’s draft mindset regarding quarterback, “If they’re going to take one, it’s going to be someone we love, or we’re not doing it. If you have to give up a couple first-round picks for future years, I don’t think they’d bat an eye at that.”

So, indeed, the sentiment for Minnesota to move and shake on draft night is out there. Broback continued the Maye theory, “Maye is a great fit in Minnesota’s offense. He has the arm talent to move the ball down the field on all three levels, and that’s a major crux as to why he’s considered a top-two pick. He’ll do well under Kevin O’Connell’s tutelage, but Maye also gives the Vikings an aspect that they didn’t have with Kirk Cousins.”

If Cousins departs, a trade up the draftboard should be considered instantly realistic.

Rumor: The Raiders are the odds-on favorite to land Kirk Cousins in free agency.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

According to Bookies, the Vikings are no longer the frontrunner to employ Cousins in 2024 and beyond. That designation belongs to the Las Vegas Raiders. Yes, them — oddsmakers evidently believe the Raiders will hop, skip, and jump between Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Kirk Cousins in back-to-back-to-back seasons.

These are live odds for Cousins’ 2024 services:

  1. Raiders: +400
  2. Falcons: +425
  3. Patriots: +500
  4. Vikings: +600
  5. Commanders: +750
  6. Steelers: +950
  7. Broncos: +1200
  8. Seahawks: +1400

The Raiders will kick off a fresh season in 2024 with Antonio Pierce as the full-time head coach. He shed the interim label a few days ago. In theory, the Raiders could sign Cousins and hope to make it work, but one might think they should’ve learned their lesson with a decade of Carr and the failed Garoppolo experiment this season.

It’s unlikely for the Raiders to “try the same thing” with a non-elite veteran quarterback. But we shall see.

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.