Vikings Could Have Hand Forced by Broncos on Rookie QB

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

In the last three weeks, Minnesota Vikings fans nearly universally warmed up to the idea of drafting Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy as a plan for the [eventual] post-Kirk Cousins era.

Vikings Could Have Hand Forced by Broncos on Rookie QB

Why? Well, the realization is threefold:

  1. Fans learned McCarthy is more than just a game manager.
  2. McCarthy may be available to the Vikings with the 11th pick; no trade needed.
  3. Minnesota could do both: re-sign Cousins and draft McCarthy.
Forced by Broncos
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy celebrates after the 34-13 win over Washington to win the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

The compromise candidate indeed, every form of social media has been a forum to voice pro-McCarthy excitement for the Vikings. But here’s the rub: the Vikings fanbase may not be alone.

KFAN’s Paul Allen lifted up the Denver Broncos as a possible McCarthy suitor, meaning the Vikings would have to snatch the Wolverine with its 11th pick and cancel any idea of trading back while still hoping to draft the young quarterback. Denver is scheduled to pick 12th, so the spot directly after Minnesota.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports.

Allen said on the Broncos’ adoration for McCarthy this week, “There is just a little bit of steam that is beginning to emerge locally that Sean Payton loves J.J. McCarthy … [Payton] covets the next Drew Brees. So just keep that in mind, ya know, when you’re thinking 11.”

Denver appears close to a divorce with quarterback Russell Wilson, willing to swallow a sizeable dead cap hit to start fresh at the game’s most crucial position. Wilson is expected to hit the open market, and oddly, the Vikings have even been linked to his serves in a “bridge quarterback” capacity.

Vikings Should Look
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

“If you’re thinking J.J. McCarthy at 11 just know behind you have the desperate [Payton] who basically will beg, borrow, and steal to get exactly what he wants from this draft from a QB standpoint. A pretty reliable individual informed me over the weekend that Payton is quite enamored with J.J. McCarthy,” Allen added.

Of course, none of this matters — Denver’s ardor for McCarthy — if the Vikings stick-and-pick the Michigan alumnus at No. 11. However, it’s worth noting that the Broncos could, in theory, leapfrog the Vikings via trade and snatch McCarthy that way.

Former Vikings Starter Released by Broncos
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Moreover, according to sportsbooks, the frontrunner to end up in Minnesota among 2024 rookie quarterbacks is — you guessed it — McCarthy. DraftKings has set McCarthy-to-Minnesota odds at +300, while FanDuel has attached a +450 moneyline for pairing probability. 

Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz linked McCarthy to the Vikings earlier this month and mentioned the prospect, “I like J.J. McCarthy a lot. His winning pedigree and elite athleticism should move the needle and help raise his stock as the draft process moves along as well.”

The 6’3″ and 200-pounder turned 21 last month, so he’s extraordinarily young, especially by recent draft class’ standards. It is unclear if McCarthy could start on Day One for the Vikings — probably not — but he could watch and learn behind Kirk Cousins for a year or two if Minnesota plans on re-signing the incumbent QB1.

And per Paul Allen, the Broncos could have a similar plan for McCarthy.

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 Vikings 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