Purple Rumor Mill: QB Battle, Vikings as the Least Improved Team, Thielen Trade

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Darnold joins Vikings Entertainment Network's Gabe Henderson and discusses being coached now by his former New York Jets teammate, Josh McCown, being a big UFC fan, his journey through the NFL and more. Darnold became a Vikings in March 2024 after Kirk Cousins left for the Atlanta Falcons.

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 30th edition.

Purple Rumor Mill: QB Battle, Vikings as the Least Improved Team, Thielen Trade

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: According to safety Camryn Bynum, the Vikings very much have a quarterback battle on their hands this summer.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports | Nov 18, 2023; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) on the field against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

“Having the two new quarterbacks, it’s fun being able to play against them and see what they bring to the table. They’re both looking really good,” Bynum told NFL Network on June 21st. “It’s exciting to see them compete. They’re both looking good, so I can’t put one over the other. I just say they both look ready. Whatever coaches decide, I trust them and their decision.”

This one is noteworthy because most Vikings fans and NFL pundits have decided that Darnold will be the QB1 in September. Head coach Kevin O’Connell even hinted earlier this month that Darnold is the top guy.

But from a player’s perspective, it’s not so fast on QB1.

Rumor: With the offseason in the books, Minnesota is the league’s least-improved club.

purple rumor mill
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

SI.com’s Gilbert Manzano was dreadfully low on Minnesota’s offseason this week.

“I would have felt better about the Vikings had they traded up to get Drake Maye in the draft. Instead, they waited to take J.J. McCarthy, the fifth quarterback selected in the draft. McCarthy was impressive during Michigan’s playoff games, but he has boom-or-bust potential because he wasn’t asked to do much in Jim Harbaugh’s run-heavy offense,” he wrote. “Minnesota could lean on veteran Sam Darnold, but he struggled with making quick decisions during his time with the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers. But this goes beyond the quarterback position. Minnesota didn’t do much to address the weak interior lines on offense and defense.”

Manzano is entitled to his opinion, but he’s one of the few NFL pundits who loathed the Vikings’ transactions from the last several months.

Rumor: Adam Thielen was almost traded to the New England Patriots in 2019.

1 Vikings Theory Is All
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Thielen sat down with Pardon My Take podcast last week and revealed some insights on former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and trade rumors from 2019.

The man notably had beef with Belichick in a 2018 game, and the veteran pass-catcher touched on that with the PMT panel.

Thielen then shed light on the trade theory, “Well, it’s funny, actually after that, I believe going into that next offseason — he reached out to the team about possibly trading for me, trying to get me to come under there. So it must’ve been a good impression on him. He must’ve liked that kind of tenacity or competitiveness.”

The revelation is a bit ironic because Patriots fans have said for years that Belichick would want nothing to do with Thielen because of the incident. Unless Thielen is fibbing, those folks were wrong.

Had the Vikings listened to or obliged New England’s trade requests, they would’ve needed a new wide receiver next to Stefon Diggs, probably from the draft. The 2019 draft was a mixed bag for talent, headlined by men like Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown, with others like N’Keal Harry, Mecole Hardman, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside in the mix before the end of Round 2.

Of course, no trade occurred, but per Thielen, New England was on the prowl.

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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.