Vikings Rumors: Justin Jefferson Justifiably Upset, Mocking Defenders, & Borrowing from Baltimore

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Since we’re officially into the portion of the year when Vikings rumors are arriving fast and furious, we’ll be highlighting some of the purple rumblings.

The “Vikings Rumor Wrangle” is a series that keeps readers informed on what’s being whispered about in Vikings Land. In this iteration, we discuss Justin Jefferson being upset, the mock drafters sending defenders to the Twin Cities, and the Vikings looking to pry a player or two away from the Ravens.

Vikings Rumors: 01.24.2024

Rumor #1 — Justin Jefferson is Upset…and for Good Reason

No, it’s not about his contract (though that is an issue). Instead, it’s about the NFL’s official social media making a poor decision.

As most have likely heard by now, the NFL’s official social media account shared an image of a fan praising the Lions. The issue was simply with the phrasing. At the very top, the Vikings and Rams are listed beside “KNEECAP” and then a check mark. The sign is an obvious nod to Dan Campbell’s opening moments with the Lions when he talked about taking off the opponents’ kneecaps (in a figurative manner).

The backlash rests in the simple fact that a single player for the Lions — safety Kerby Joseph — took out Minnesota’s T.J. Hockenson and Los Angeles’ Tyler Higbee with season-ending knee injuries. More specifically, both TEs tore their ACL and MCL (as Dustin Baker discusses on VT).

NFL: New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) makes a catch for a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe the move was innocent from the NFL’s Twitter, but Justin Jefferson took notice: “Yall wild for posting this. This ain’t cool!!” A thumbs down emoji also got tossed into the mix within the tweet. Clearly, the reception wasn’t too favorable for Jefferson, and for good reason.

Safeties lowering their contact point to not target the head is a great, necessary change. Even still, seeing a pair of tight ends get hit in the same spot and suffer the same injury after a hit from the same player is less than desirable for the league. After all, the players themselves are the product, so keeping them healthy is at once the moral thing to do and then the financially-prudent thing to do.

Oh, and not sending out a tweet that’s being understood as making light of these serious injuries would be a good step.

Rumor #2 — The Mocks are Sending Defenders to Minnesota

Left in charge, I’d add up pass rushers like my team’s life depended on it. Apparently, some of the mock drafters are taking a similar approach.

On the NFL website, Daniel Jeremiah kicks over a defensive tackle for the Brian Flores defense: “I believe [Byron] Murphy is the top defensive tackle in the class. The Vikings need to add more firepower up front.” Last season, the DT put together 5 sacks and 8.5 TFLs.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores watches his team play against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Bucky Brooks named a different player but had a similar rationale by sending Jared Verse to Minnesota: “Adding an athletic pass rusher to the lineup will enhance the Vikings’ aggressive schemes under Brian Flores. The Florida State standout flashes double-digit potential as a sack artist.” He picked up 9 sacks and 12.5 TFLs last year.  

Obviously, Minnesota has different needs and there’s a ton that is going to change in the coming weeks. Rest assured, though, that there is a lot of work that needs to be done within Minnesota’s front seven. It’s an area of the team that needs a complete overhaul and the Vikings have a pile of free agents along the defensive line and at linebacker.

Don’t be surprised to see a defender go to Minnesota early in the draft.

Rumor #3 — The Vikings Should be Monitoring the Baltimore Ravens

Success comes at a cost. The Ravens won’t be upset if there’s a Super Bowl in the very near future, but the salary cap is going to be snug.

A lot of Baltimore’s stars are going to see their cap charge hit some notable highs. Lamar Jackson leads the way at a $32.4 million cap charge. Corner Marlon Humphrey, though, is no slouch, demanding close to $22.9 million while Mark Andrews is projected to account for a bit beyond $16.9 million. Mr. Roquan Smith, the talented linebacker, carries a $13.5 million cap hit.

Oct 22, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, and then there’s Ronnie Stanley’s projected $26.2 million cap charge. And let’s not forget Marcus Williams coming in at $18.7 million. See the issue?

Meanwhile, guys like Justin Madubuike, Patrick Queen, and even J.K. Dobbins make sense as potential fits for the Vikings. If Baltimore has too much talent to pay and not enough money to go around, the Vikings could very well be a team that’s looking to swoop in to snag away some talent.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, Sports Reference CFB, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.