J.J. McCarthy Thought It Was a 2-Horse Race for His Services

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Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) warms up before Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

New Minnesota Vikings quarterback J.J. McCarthy didn’t fall too far down the draftboard, but pre-draft lead-up suggested he might’ve been a Top 5 pick.

J.J. McCarthy Thought It Was a 2-Horse Race for His Services

No cigar, though, for the 21-year-old, who Minnesota scooped at pick No. 10 following a trade with the New York Jets.

JJ McCarthy
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And per McCarthy, when he slipped out of the Top 5, he believed a two-horse race existed for his services between the Vikings and Denver Broncos. McCarthy told KFAN’s Paul Allen on Monday, “Yes, I did think there was a chance I would be a Bronco. You know, that was kind of my two spots that I really felt like, you know, I was gonna go after seeing the first six picks. And, you know, both great spots, but I’m extremely excited to stay in the Midwest and play for coach O’Connell.”

Denver ultimately drafted Oregon’s Bo Nix and will feature a three-way quarterback competition this summer, featuring Nix, Zach Wilson, and Jarrett Stidham.

Minnesota Vikings 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.

McCarthy, on the other hand, will eventually grab the QB1 job in Minneapolis, though no one is too sure of his start date. Minnesota signed veteran passer Sam Darnold in March after Kirk Cousins left the franchise for the Atlanta Falcons. Cousins spent six seasons as the Vikings’ quarterback, and the club made a pivotal decision on his free agency seven weeks ago.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah chose a new era.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports.

A few theories exist about McCarthy’s upcoming transition to QB1. He could win the job outright this summer at training camp and in the preseason. He could take over for Darnold in the middle of the 2024 season. Or the purple team could sit on him for a full year, embracing the watch-and-learn philosophy implemented successfully by the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers in the last decade.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert explained McCarthy’s path on Friday, “The Vikings will follow an individualized development plan they created for each of the quarterbacks they considered drafting, one that requires McCarthy to hit specific benchmarks and gives coach Kevin O’Connell full authority to make the timing decision.”

j.j. mccarthy
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Regarding the Broncos, head coach Sean Payton claimed last week that he wanted to drive up the price for McCarthy, an odd revelation because his team ended up with Nix. “I was actively involved in trying to pretend we were moving forward. It’s this time of the year, and it’s difficult … Man, you just don’t want others to know our focal point,” he excitedly told media members on Thursday night.

The strategy likely caused Minnesota to spend an extra 5th-Rounder. For some reason, Payton thought the extra draft pick really affected the Vikings front office.

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 OverTheCap.com.