Vikings Rumors: Money to Burn, UDFA DT Has a Shot, and Trading a QB

NFL: Combine
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Even though we’re officially into the portion of the year when Vikings rumors are slowing down, we’ll still 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 the Vikings having some cap space to burn, a UDFA defensive tackle with some potential, and then the ongoing possibility of a trade involving a Vikings QB.

Vikings Rumors: 06.26.2024

Rumor #1 — The Vikings Have Some Money to Burn

Well, maybe not money to burn, but some cap space to maneuver.

Right now, Minnesota is working with a 2024 budget that comes in a bit above $26 million. If that sounds like a lot, then it’s because it is. Most of the league is working with less than Minnesota. In fact, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s crew is a top-ten team in the NFL for cap space. Over the Cap has them in ninth, one spot below the Packers and one ahead of the Colts.

NFL: Combine
Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah speaks during a press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Keep in mind, however, that an NFL salary cap is like a game of ping pong. The ball — or, as it were, the cap space — gets hit back and forth quite a bit. Very seldom are things standing still.

The broader point is simply that the Vikings have some buying power, even if one could argue that Minnesota has been dropping the ball a bit by letting FAs slip away. The roster is mostly set, yes, but it’s never really a finished product (team-building is eternal, says the GM). Minnesota may yet make a headline or two by bringing outside talent into TCO Performance Center.

Remember that the cap space that isn’t used gets rolled over into next year. So, nothing is wasted even if it’s more exciting to see a FA addition.

Rumor #2 — The UDFA Defensive Tackle Has a Shot to Stick Around the Roster

Consider the word from Janik Eckardt, the new managing editor for PurplePTSD. He highlights UDFA defensive tackle Taki Taimani as someone to keep an eye on.

“Because the group doesn’t have an established depth chart with a pre-existing rotation, there is a chance for a rookie to make a splash and earn a role,” Eckardt explains. “Taimani spent the first four years of his long collegiate career at the University of Washington before transferring to Oregon. The most production came in 2021 when he tabulated 43 total tackles.”

Sep 2, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive lineman Taki Taimani (55) gets help from teammates during the first half as he tackles a Portland State Vikings running back at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

He goes on: “The Vikings list the player at 6-1 and 309 lbs, but Oregon listed him at 6-3 and 330 lbs. Regardless, Taimani is a pure run-stuffer without as much talent to get after the quarterback. Still, if the Vikings want to keep a true two-gapping nose tackle with the strength to impact the running game, Taimani is the obvious choice. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores has shown that he likes depth players who specialize in one thing, and he could be the team’s run specialist.”

Keep in mind that Minnesota tossed over $100,000 in guaranteed money to land the defender. Clearly, there was some interest from other teams in his services, prompting the Vikings to ship out a medium-sized amount of guaranteed money. He could fill a role as a rookie or snag a spot on the practice squad.

Rumor #3 — The Vikings are Going to Trade One of their Four QBs…Probably Mullens

In the end, it’s a classic case of wait and see.

What’s evident at this moment in time is that Minnesota won’t have four quarterbacks on the final roster. At some point, a decision is going to need to be made. Now, it’s possible that football — a cruel sport — makes the decision for the team via injury. If one of the signal callers succumbs to injury, then the Vikings can simply move forward with the trio that remains healthy.

The best case, though, is obviously for everyone to be in tip-top shape. And it’s within that best case where the situation is a little complicated. Or is it?

Aug 19, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) runs with the ball as offensive tackle Blake Brandel (64) blocks and center Alan Ali (66) looks on against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Neither of Sam Darnold nor J.J. McCarthy are going anywhere. The Vikings have invested too much into these passers to see either head elsewhere in 2024. So, that’s two of the four who are basically locks to be on the final team.

The leaves us with just Jaren Hall and J.J. McCarthy, the redundancies that Eckardt discussed recently. The problem for Mr. Mullens isn’t that he’s not a good quarterback. Of the pair, Mullens is better, and there’s a rock-solid case to be made that Mullens is one of the best backup QBs in the NFL. The issue is that he’s older and more expensive. Toss in that Hall has three more years of (cheap) team control and is a 5th-Round selection.

The surrounding details continue to point toward a scenario where Mr. Mullens gets moved via trade rather than lost for nothing. He has a cap hit not too far beyond $2 million, so basically any team in the NFL can afford to acquire him.

Editor’s Note: Information from 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.