Purple Rumor Mill: Justin Herbert Theories, Trading without 23rd Pick, Nick Mullens

Vikings List of 2023
Isaiah J. Downing-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 April 14th edition.

Purple Rumor Mill: Justin Herbert Theories, Trading without 23rd Pick, Nick Mullens

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: Some still believe Justin Herbert could end up with the Vikings via draft night trade.

purple rumor mill
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

In the shadows, for about six weeks, some have envisioned a trade between the Vikings and Chargers for superstar quarterback Justin Herbert, even if the swap seems wildly unfeasible.

Last week, SKOR North’s Judd Zulgad kept the Herbert rumors alive: “So a month ago, I would have said this entire scenario was, like, absolutely crazy. And I think I might have dismissed this at one point. But in light of the information that we have received, and in the light of the fact that I do think it is incumbent upon the Vikings to explore — and I’m guessing that they are — every option possible … If you’re the Vikings and let’s say Jim Harbaugh has called ya, I don’t think you’re gonna hang up the phone.”

The idea goes like this — new head coach Jim Harbaugh, at all costs, could find a way to draft McCarthy, his quarterback at Michigan, a squad that won the National Championship in January. Then, Herbert would apparently become expendable, and a quarterback-needy team like Minnesota could swoop in for the swap.

“I’ve been to a lot of pro day workouts. That was the best I’ve ever seen from a quarterback. That was the best throwing day I’ve ever seen,” Jim Harbaugh said about McCarthy in March. “I think he’s the best quarterback in the draft,” Harbaugh added, calling his Michigan quarterback a “killer.”

“He plays quarterback the best of all the quarterbacks,” Harbaugh concluded about McCarthy.

While Harbaugh indeed loves his collegiate quarterback, it just doesn’t make sense for Los Angeles to willingly get rid of a Top 7 NFL quarterback while also incurring over $60 million in dead cap.

The idea is cool for Vikings fans, but it doesn’t make sense for the Chargers.

Rumor: Minnesota wants to keep its 23rd pick, even if it trades up the board for a quarterback in Round 1.

vikings wr3
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Minnesota evidently wants to retain the 23rd overall pick, a theory that has seemingly arisen out of nowhere. “You got Minnesota armed with two first round picks. This is the team that could be active. I’ve talked to several teams who believe that Minnesota at least right now, doesn’t want to part with that second first rounder, which is in the 20s. They want to try to preserve that, which could be tough to move up into the top five for a quarterback,” Fowler said this week.

If Fowler is correct, and Minnesota is conducting business to keep the 23rd pick, two items would become apparent. a) A player already on the Vikings’ roster would almost certainly be involved in the would-be trade for a quarterback b) Adofo-Mensah would offload 2025 and 2026 1st-Round picks more willingly than once believed.

Fowler added, “So the feeling is they’re looking around at potentially McCarthy there, one of the quarterbacks, but they might not want to give up enough to get there.”

There’s a small possibility that the draft community has overvalued the price of a trade into the Top 5, but of all scenarios regarding Fowler’s assertion, that seems the least probable. Or — perhaps the purple team will stick-and-pick at No. 11 or 23 with a player like Michael Penix Jr.

If the Vikings want to move into the Top 10 for a quarterback, generally speaking, parting ways with the 23rd pick feels mandatory.

Rumor: Nick Mullens could be cut or traded after the draft.

nick mullens
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox identified eight players this week who could be cut or traded right after this month’s draft, and Mullens made the cut.

“If the Vikings do draft a quarterback early, there’s a good chance that journeyman quarterback Nick Mullens will be heading elsewhere. Minnesota signed Sam Darnold this offseason as a stopgap, and it took BYU’s Jaren Hall in the fifth round of the 2023 draft,” Knox wrote.

“While Mullens isn’t a star on the same level as Brandon Aiyuk, Tee Higgins or Matthew Judon, he’s still a veteran quarterback with 20 starts on his resume and a respectable 88.1 career quarterback rating. We saw last season just how important quarterback depth can be, as teams like the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets all lost their starters.”

This one actually checks out because Minnesota will have Sam Darnold, the rookie quarterback, Jaren Hall, and Mullens on the roster. BR’s theory checks out.

5 Vikings on the Hot Seat in 2024
Also Read from VikingsTerritory:
5 Vikings on the Hot Seat in 2024

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.