This was sent in by a reader. The first picture is from a Nikon lens patent, the second is the existing AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED lens. I am not an optical engineer, but the lens constructions diagram looks very similar:
The patent was granted on February, 2008. The current 80-400mm lens was introduced back in August, 2002. Maybe there is a link, maybe not.
No rating here, since this is not really a rumor, just a speculation.
Update: few readers have commented that this patent is about a possible 70-300mm lens. For comparisson, here is the lens diagram of the current 70-300 model: the front element is smaller and different, if a comparisson can be drawn.