Purple Rumor Mill: Sweet WR Trade, Hockenson Midseason, Wild J.J. McCarthy Forecast

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks (16) is introduced before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

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 May 25th edition.

Purple Rumor Mill: Sweet WR Trade, Hockenson Midseason, Wild J.J. McCarthy Forecast

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: The Vikings should or could swing a low-risk deal for Tennessee Titans WR Treylon Burks.

Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports.

This one showed up about a week and a half ago, courtesy of Bleacher Report. BR’s Alex Kay sized up five theoretical trades around the NFL, and the Vikings were included, spitballed as a landing spot for Tennessee Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks — for the price of a 7th-Round pick.

To which all Vikings fans would say, “Yes, please.”

The Titans enriched their WR corps this offseason, adding Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd from free agency while retaining DeAndre Hopkins in 2024. In theory, Burks could be the odd man out or fail to earn ample attention in the team’s passing game. Even since Boyd joined the Titans last week, Burks has been whispered in the trade rumor mill, which is now evidently a Vikings-themed ordeal.

Kay explained Burks to Minnesota, “Treylon Burks could be the high-upside talent the Vikings need to reinforce their receiving corps at low cost. Burks could be available, especially after the Tennessee Titans—the club that selected Boyd on Day 1 of the 2022 draft—brought in Tyler Boyd to fill their slot receiver role. With a logjam of receiving talent now in the Music City, Burks looks to be the odd man out following a slow start to his NFL career.”

The price is the most fascinating aspect. Why? Well, sending a 7th-Rounder anywhere is essentially a free trade. Men from that round almost never pan out in the NFL, so Minnesota would be finagling a risk-free arrangement if general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could pull off the deal.

“Although Burks hasn’t produced much in his two seasons (he’s only reeled in 49 receptions for 665 yards and one score across 22 games) he has dealt with injuries, poor quarterback play and a run-heavy system that have all hindered his development. He still has a high ceiling due to his size, strength, athleticism and versatility — traits that could allow him to shine while manning the slot in the Twin Cities,” Kay concluded.

If this is even remotely available to the Vikings, they should pounce.

Rumor: T.J. Hockenson may not return until midseason — like after Week 6.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Many Vikings fans have prepared for a Hockenson-less start to 2024, and that outcome might actually bleed further into the season than most realize. Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling opined on the topic this week, preparing the masses for a post-Week 6 return.

“Because I would imagine T.J. Hockenson is on the PUP list through 6 weeks. Week 6 bye is conveniently timed here. And then, oh, look who’s on the schedule Week 7. Lions. His old buddy, Kirby Joseph,” Goessling mused on the Access Vikings podcast last week.

The theory would plop back Hockenson into action Week 7 at home versus the Detroit Lions. And if Minnesota’s season starts poorly, that game could be circled for the start of the J.J. McCarthy era — in theory.

This one is probably realistic, and folks should fully prepare for Hockenson to miss the start of the season.

Rumor: Forget QB1 or QB2. J.J. McCarthy is more of a QB3 type for his rookie season.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports | Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports.

This is an SI.com theory.

SI.com’s Will Ragatz wrote this week about McCarthy’s performance at Vikings organized team activities (OTAs), “McCarthy was primarily working as the QB3 behind veterans Sam Darnold and Nick Mullens. When the team split up for parts of the day, it was Darnold and Mullens rotating with the starters and McCarthy and Jaren Hall working with the young players and backups.” He continued, “McCarthy had plenty of moments in this practice that reminded you just how much learning and growth is ahead of him. There were several reps where you could see him going through his progressions, hesitating a bit, and then scrambling or throwing to his checkdown option.”

Since the draft four weeks ago, Vikings fans have pondered and debated McCarthy’s QB1 ascension, as the youngster will presumably battle veteran Sam Darnold this summer at training camp and in the preseason. But according to SI.com, the battle isn’t really a battle at all.

“McCarthy is going to have to work his way up the depth chart over the course of this year. The Vikings have a specific plan in place for his development, one they aren’t going to rush or deviate from. If he doesn’t beat out Darnold, prove he’s ready, and win the Week 1 starting job, he might remain the QB3 to start the regular season so he isn’t an injury away from being thrust into action,” Ragatz added.

This one is theoretically possible, but we believe McCarthy will be the QB2 to start the season.

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.