Vikings Rumors: “Intriguing Trade Target,” Davenport Decision Day, & Jefferson Being Contradictory

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Jim Dedmon-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 the emergence of a trade target, the decision day for Marcus Davenport arriving sooner than people realize, and then Justin Jefferson potentially being contradictory.

Vikings Rumors: 02.14.2024

Rumor #1 — The Vikings Recently Learned about an “Intriguing Trade Target”

Well, it’s possible Minnesota’s management has known about the possibility for a while, but the NFL world more broadly learned about the possibility via Ian Rapoport.

Take a look at the word from the insider from The NFL Network: “All-Pro edge rusher Haason Reddick has received permission to seek a trade following another disruptive season featuring double digit sacks. The 29-year old with 27 sacks over two seasons in Philly could land elsewhere.”

Is there much need for pass-rushing help in Minnesota? The question is akin to asking whether melted cheese is important to a Juicy Lucy or whether Caribou Coffee is in the caffeine business.

On Vikings Territory, Josh Frey discussed the possible fit. “Players who can routinely put up double-digit sack seasons don’t exactly grow on trees in the NFL,” Frey argues, “so the Vikings would be smart to pursue this option.”

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) against Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw (71) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The main downsides are simply age and contract. Presumably, Mr. Reddick is looking to lock-in some decent money since he’ll be turning 30 at the beginning of the 2024 season. His shot at bringing in huge cash is coming to an end within the next few years, so he’s wisely looking to get paid.

After all, Reddick has outperformed the 3-year, $45 million deal that Philly gave him. In 2022, the defender finished 4th in Defensive Player of the Year voting given that he piled up 16 sacks, 26 QB hits, 11 TFLs, and a whopping 5 forced fumbles. In 2023, Reddick didn’t have the same degree of dominance, but he was still responsible for tossing up 11 sacks, 23 QB hits, and 13 TFLs.

Without question, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is a man who loves to trade. The major caveat is simply that with free agency coming up, Minnesota’s GM may be reluctant to part with an asset to onboard a soon-to-be 30-year-old who will be looking for an extension.

But, crucially, there is a major need, so keep an eye on this one.

Rumor #2 — The Marcus Davenport Decision Day is Coming Sooner than People Realize

Free agency begins from March 11th-13th. The Vikings will need to make their decision on Marcus Davenport before then, though.

On February 19th — the day before franchise tags can start being applied — Marcus Davenport’s contract will void. In other words, his contract will come to an end. As a result, the scheduled dead money will shift from hypothetical to actual. The amount? A painful $6.8 million. Once that money hits the books in an official capacity, there’s no moving it. The Vikings will need to digest that cap charge in 2024 no matter what.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers place kicker Eddy Pineiro (4) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Marcus Davenport (0) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, the option always exists that there could be an extension prior to the end of his contract, but that seems highly unlikely. The defender was productive when he was on the field. But, of course, he was seldom on the field, participating just in four games while putting up a career-low 118 snaps.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was wise to onboard a young, talented pass rusher in last year’s free agency. The rationale behind his decision making was sound, but the home-run swing didn’t pay off. The end result is some disappointment in 2023 and less cap space in 2024.

Rumor #3 — Justin Jefferson is Contradicting Himself in Recent Interviews

On Notes from the North, Sizzlin’ Sam and I took on the topic.

First, his recent words. While chatting with Adam Schein of “Mad Dog Sports Radio,” Jefferson offered this statement (courtesy of Mr. Frey’s transcription): “I want to break the bank, and I want to be a part of an organization that wants me, and to really give me what I deserve.”

How do we square the above statement with this snippet from 2022 (courtesy of Chris Tomasson’s transcription)? Take a look: “I’ll focus on contract after the season. Our main thing is reaching to that goal (of winning) but I’m not really too fond of money. I’m really just trying to get that goal of being the best receiver.”

Upon first glance, being “not too fond of money” and desiring to “break the bank” are fundamentally at odds. Has the receiver changed his mind?

Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe. Plenty of time has passed and there’s likely some frustration on his part about the deal not getting done. He has proven to be a historically-great receiver and is the unquestioned best player on the roster. Tossing in the fact that he’s still only 24 makes the situation even more wild.

With that being said, I don’t see Jefferson’s comments as being too troublesome or even particularly contradictory. He has often talked about wanting to play for a team where he is wanted and valued. How does a team show a player that he’s wanted and valued? Folks, there can only be one answer in the NFL: handing over major money.

Balance all of his past comments with the recent ones and the picture that emerges is of a young superstar who is thankful to be a Viking and wants the relationship to continue (he says as much in the same conversation where he discusses breaking the bank). And while there are factors beyond just money in his wish list — winning — getting paid a fair wage is still important to him.

Expect an extension to get done during the offseason. In all likelihood, the deal will keep him around for at least four more years and surpass a $30 million annual average.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference 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.