The conspiracy wing is seeking an answer to whether there will be a warm embrace like Brad Childress has awkwardly shared in public with Andy Reid or an icy exchange witnessed between Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini. Why? According to the conspiracy community, here is how it goes:
In the weeks following the hiring of former Patriots assistant Josh McDaniels as the head coach of the Denver Broncos, rumors began surfacing that McDaniels was interested in trading for quarterback Matt Cassel, who had admirably run the Patriots offense the year before when Tom Brady went down in Week 1. There was only one problem. The Broncos already had a franchise quarterback. Jay Cutler was young, experienced and growing a reputation as a fast-rising QB talent. In order to get Cassel to run his own offensive vision, McDaniels needed to get rid of Cutler. Fortunately, there was a lot of collateral in Cutler.
As the coffee-stained underground conspiracy community has it, a plan was put in place to create a "win-win-win" situation. The Patriots would send Cassel to Denver. The Broncos would send Cutler to the Vikings and the Vikings would send their first-round draft pick to the Patriots. There was only one problem. The Vikings had given up their last first-round pick to Kansas City and weren't ready to do it again, even if Cutler had plenty of upside. The deep-conspiracy buffs attest that the Vikings already had a tacit agreement with Brett Favre that made interest in Cutler all but moot.
This is the problem with dealing with the conspiracy wing. They get clumped together with talk of JFK, UFOs and Elvis. Perhaps rightly so. But, in hindsight, the theory makes some sense given what happened.
Word surfaced that the Broncos were shopping Cutler in a three-way deal and the Vikings were suggested as, if not a suspect, at least a team of interest. Talk on that cooled off faster than Antonio Bryant Bengals jersey sales. The Vikings tipped away quietly like the first zebra at the watering hole to notice the gathering circle of lions. But, the fallout with Cutler proved toxic. McDaniels didn't get Cassel, but gave up Cutler. A year later, Cutler ally Brandon Marshall talked his way out of town. McDaniels inherited a franchise quarterback and a game-changing wide receiver 18 months ago. Both are gone now. Are the Vikings to blame?
Significant holes remain in the conspiracy theorists' premise, but the facts are that Cutler's relationship with the organization permanently soured when word of the trade talks surfaced. The Vikings were a logical third side of the triangle at the time. Were the Vikings responsible for the demise of the team McDaniels inherited? We may find out during the obligatory pre-game meeting of coaches. We'll have to be there early, but the conspiracy community demands it.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.