Vikings Nopedy Nopes: Jim Harbaugh Bad Blood, Kirk Cousins’ Problems, Vikings Defense Ranking

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

A weekend publication from VikingsTerritory, we present to you: the Vikings Nopedy Nopes of the week.

Vikings Nopedy Nopes: Jim Harbaugh Bad Blood, Kirk Cousins’ Problems, Vikings Defense Ranking

The nopedy nopes are weekly Minnesota Vikings-themed items that we’re not buying. It’s a spin-off of our rumor mill, and we hope you enjoy. Here is the 10th batch of Vikings nopedy nopes in the series’ history.

The Nopedy Nope: Jim Harbaugh wouldn’t do business with the Vikings during the draft because they didn’t hire him in 2022.

Mock Drafts
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh lifts up the Rose Bowl trophy after 27-20 win over Alabama at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif. on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote this week, “Minnesota — which selected McCarthy No. 10 overall, having traded up one spot to the New York Jets’ spot — made calls through the top 10 leading up to the draft. The Vikings and Chargers talked. And one league exec wondered if Minnesota passing on Jim Harbaugh for the head-coaching opening two years ago would have caused Harbaugh to be awfully stubborn on any potential deal between the sides.”

If true — probably not — Harbaugh would wrap his arms around a new level of petty or resentful, refusing to enhance his new team via trade assets because he was bitter about a team that didn’t hire him two years ago. In fact, it actually worked out wonderfully that Harbaugh didn’t take the Minnesota job because he returned to Michigan and won his first National Championship. He should almost thank the Vikings for not taking the plunge.

We refuse to believe that Harbaugh would let a grudge derail his team-building better angels. Hell, Harbaugh was even excited that McCarthy ended up in Minnesota.

Verdict: Nopedy nope.

The Nopedy Nope: Kirk Cousins could be traded after the 2024 season.

Vikings Nopedy Nopes
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

Bill Barnwell led the charge this week in stating that Cousins be traded in 2025, a byproduct of Atlanta using the draft’s eighth overall pick on quarterback Michael Penix Jr. from Washington. 

“Naturally, while Cousins might not want to move on to another city after just landing in Atlanta, the veteran might also not want to sit in 2025 behind Penix if the Falcons are ready to move on and there’s an exciting opportunity available elsewhere. Could the Falcons move on after one year? Yes, although it would be more complicated,” Barnwell explained.

Cousins and his agent were baffled by the Penix Jr. draft choice, specifically because they weren’t informed about Atlanta’s plan until it was on the draft clock. And some now believe that Cousins in black and red was more short-term than forecasted.

Barnwell continued, “If Cousins agrees to a trade, it would be easy; Atlanta would actually save $2.5 million as part of that deal, and while it would have paid him $62.5 million for one year of work, it wouldn’t be on the hook for the remaining $37.5 million in guarantees. The Falcons would have $37.5 million in dead money on their cap, but we’ve seen teams grown more comfortable eating that sort of dead money if they’re ready to move on from a quarterback.”

Barnwell then mentioned the San Francisco 49ers as a long-shot landing spot for Cousins in 2025 and added, “The other potential landing spots appear to be with the Raiders, Steelers and Titans, none of whom have a settled quarterback of the future. The Giants, Jets, Saints, Seahawks and even the Dolphins could also be in the market for a veteran starter. If Cousins plays well in 2024 and both he and the Falcons want to split, there will be a market for him next year. Next time around, Cousins might just want to try to get his new organization to promise it won’t draft a quarterback immediately after acquiring him.”

Cousins will play well in Atlanta, and any trade or divorce is probably a 2026 thing.

Verdict: Nopedy nope.

The Nopedy Nope: Minnesota has the NFL’s 18th-best defense heading into this season.

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Bleacher Report ranked all NFL defenses about a week removed from the 2024 NFL Draft, and Minnesota’s checked in at No. 18 — also known as the 15th-worst in the business. Not horrible but certainly not good.

BR’s scouting report noted on the purple defense, “The Vikings have done things in the offseason to give him better players to work with. Danielle Hunter will be missed, but Jonathan Greenard is younger and will replace a good portion of his production. Dallas Turner is a hand-in-glove fit with this scheme and signing Andrew Van Ginkel gives them a blitzer with experience in Flores’ system.”

When Brian Flores arrived in Miami during the 2019 season, his defense ranked dead last per EPA/Play. By the end of the following season, 2020, it climbed 25 spots to seventh-best leaguewide.

And — the Vikings’ defense improved from a 24th ranking in 2022 per DVOA to 11th in 2023 (Flores’ first year). Infused with new personnel, including Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, Dallas Turner, Blake Cashman, and Shaquill Griffin, the purple defense won’t be the league’s 18th-best defense. It’s better than that, mainly because Flores is in charge.

Verdict: Nopedy nope.

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).

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