Purple Rumor Mill: J.J. McCarthy’s NFL Debut, Justin Jefferson Theory Revision, Malik Nabers

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

VikingsTerritory’s Purple Rumor Mill is a two-day chronicle each week. All the week’s Vikings rumors are lassoed and plopped in two spots — articles on Saturday and Sunday — for review. Today is the June 1st edition.

Purple Rumor Mill: J.J. McCarthy’s NFL Debut, Justin Jefferson Theory Revision, Malik Nabers

Remember — rumors are rumors. What you read on weekends in these pieces is what the world is talking about pertaining to the purple team, not necessarily items that will come to fruition.

Here’s the first batch of the week.

Rumor: J.J. McCarthy could make his NFL debut in Week 7 (Oct. 20) at home against the Detroit Lions.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports.

This theory is all over the place.

According to CBS Sports, that first start could be Week 7 at home against the Lions, a contest now circled a few times by folks speculating about McCarthy’s ascension. Josh Edwards of CBS Sports spitballed every rookie passer’s start date this week, and on McCarthy, he explained, “By starting McCarthy Week 7 coming off the bye, it gives head coach Kevin O’Connell two weeks to prepare his rookie quarterback for his first meeting with the division rival Lions. The Vikings could also opt to wait until Week 13 when four of the final six games will be played at home.”

Edwards added, “The Vikings seem pretty self-aware as they build toward the future so the expectations for this season alone should not be unreasonable. McCarthy walks into a relatively relaxed situation as far as quarterback rooms are concerned. Darnold may hold on to the job for awhile but history suggests that it is only a matter of time before the franchise looks in another direction.”

The McCarthy-in-Week-7 theory should be afforded considerable attention — because it’s prevalent. Pro Football Focus‘ Trevor Sikkema wrote last week about McCarthy’s emergence, “McCarthy will also just need time to grow as a player. That timeline might not manifest into a first start until the second half of the season, but I look at Week 7 as a date to circle for McCarthy. Yes, the Lions would be a tough first assignment, but the Vikings have a bye in Week 6 and will also play Detroit in Minnesota. Those are typically the two factors that play into when teams make a quarterback change — extra practice and a home crowd behind them.”

And VikingsTerritory‘s own Wes Johnson opined on May 18th, “All matchups that might be a bit much for an incoming rookie quarterback to take on initially. A Week 7 matchup at home coming off of a bye seems like a good opportunity to insert McCarthy into the fire, and the team will be doing so with the help of Hockenson, who came off of his knee injury against the very team that injured him. Sharpen your horns. It’s time to pillage.”

Take note. It’s a popular idea.

Rumor: Justin Jefferson’s contract extension could hit next week — and a popular website totally changed its tune on his status.

Jefferson Smashes
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Pro Football Talk‘s Mike Florio wrote this week in an article about Tyreek Hill’s desire for a new contract, “It’s entirely possible (if not probable … if not likely) that Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson will have a new contract as soon as next week. If that happens, it will re-set the market — and it will give Hill a new target.”

The theory is a total reversal from last week.

“If you want him, you pay him. If you don’t, you trade him. You don’t do this half-measure; we’re gonna play games with him. And my intel is, from Jefferson’s perspective, there may be a perception that they’re playing games with him, and that doesn’t end well. F around and find out is the mantra that they need to keep in mind if they are indeed effing around with JJ,” Florio opined about a week ago on KFAN.

Four days ago, re-upping a theory originally ignited by himself during the draft about Minnesota reportedly seeking wide receiver Malik Nabers, Florio noted, “If other teams didn’t have reason to contact the Vikings about a possible deal, they do now. And the Vikings quite possibly are waiting for someone to blow them away with an offer they can’t refuse. Will that happen? More specifically, will another team combine a massive contract offer to Jefferson with the kind of trade package that would prompt the Vikings to make a move?”

In fact, PFT was a major source of Jefferson trade rumors over the last few months. The reversal is significant — even the skeptical believe Jefferson’s extension is close.

Rumor: Minnesota wanted to trade up and draft wide receiver Malik Nabers while offloading Justin Jefferson.

Purple Rumor Mill
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Right after the draft, a theory circulated the internet, courtesy of the aforementioned Florio, suggesting the Minnesota Vikings sought wide receiver Malik Nabers in the 2024 NFL Draft. This insinuated that Justin Jefferson could’ve been traded accordingly.

Last weekend, the Nabers theory reemerged courtesy of the Pioneer Press and the fingers of Charley Walters. He wrote, “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.”

ESPN, though, smacked down the Walters reporting. “This rumor has made the rounds, and it’s admittedly juicy, but the Vikings did not try last month to trade up and draft WR Malik Nabers. Great player, but Vikings have a better one in Justin Jefferson. Still working to extend Jefferson and no interest in trading him,” Seifert tweeted Tuesday.

We don’t buy the Nabers rumor.

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).

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