ESPN Drops a J.J. McCarthy Hint

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J.J. McCarthy with the Minnesota Vikings practice highlights from OTA No. 2 of 2024, which took place at the TCO Performance Center. The Minnesota VIkings used the 10th overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft to select McCarthy after a trade up the board with the New York Jets.

It will probably be Sam Darnold right away in 2024, but that won’t stop Minnesota Vikings fans from speculating about when rookie passer JJ. McCarthy will take over.

ESPN Drops a J.J. McCarthy Hint

Minnesota found McCarthy with the 10th overall pick in April after months of folks wondering if the Vikings would “trade the farm” for a rookie signal-caller. They didn’t. Kirk Cousins left in March for richer pastures in Atlanta, nominating the 2024 NFL Draft as the spot for his replacement.

j.j. mccarthy
Minnesota 2024 NFL Draft. Watch as QB J.J. McCarthy addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Friday. The Vikings traded up one spot on the draftboard with the New York Jets for McCarthy.

So, Minnesota grabbed McCarthy but hedged the bet six weeks prior with the free-agent acquisition of Darnold. And according to ESPN, the Vikings want McCarthy to take the job “organically.” That is — when he’s ready, he’s ready. There is no “he better be ready by x date.”

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert wrote last week, “The Vikings don’t view Darnold simply as someone they can play if McCarthy isn’t ready for Week 1. It’s more accurate to understand him as a player the Vikings believe they can compete with as McCarthy moves through an organized developmental plan that prioritizes his long-term future.”

new qb
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

For some Vikings fans, Darnold as the Week 1 quarterback seems like a total no-brainer. After all, McCarthy is just 21 years old, and he’ll actually join a team that is perfect for watching and learning as long as necessary. Others, though, maintain McCarthy could dominate the field this summer at training camp and in the preseason, evidently possessing enough juice to dethrone Darnold in July and August. Stay tuned.

Seifert added about McCarthy’s organic maturation, “Does that mean the Vikings have ruled out McCarthy as their Week 1 starter? Of course not. But they want his ascension to be organic — based on his own aptitude and readiness — rather than forced by a lack of alternatives.”

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Right after the draft, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said about McCarthy’s upcoming development, “A lot of times when we go back over history and say, ‘These quarterbacks have missed,’ there’s a lot of hands that are dirty in that regard. And we’re going to make sure that our hands are clean and give him the best opportunity he can to be the best player he can be in this offense.”

That sure sounds like a patient outlook — and one that mirrors the latest ESPN reporting. McCarthy will start when McCarthy is ready, not dictated by some calendarized litmus test.

Vikings
Minnesota 2024 NFL Draft. Watch as QB J.J. McCarthy addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Friday. The Vikings traded up one spot on the draftboard with the New York Jets for McCarthy.

If McCarthy somehow gets the nod in Week 1 at the New York Giants, he’d make franchise history. No rookie Vikings quarterback has ever started a Week 1 game.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His MIN obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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