Questions Answered: Vikings’ WR3 Options, J.J. McCarthy … in 2025, Playoff Prognosis

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The following questions are about current Minnesota Vikings topics, answered by VikingsTerritory. Today is the June 25th edition, addressed in a from-the-hip fashion. If you have questions, please email them to [email protected].

Questions Answered: WR3 Options, J.J. McCarthy … in 2025, Playoff Prognosis

Also, please note: These are opinion-based responses. Some answers will be incorrect from time to time. But we’ll try to keep that to a minimum.

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Q: Outside of the usual suspects like Hunter Renfrow, who else could the Vikings sign for the WR3 job if the summer doesn’t go well?

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Robert Woods (2) takes the field before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. © George Walker IV / / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Answer: Remember roster cutdown day late in August.

Even after practice squad assignments, about 700+ players will hit the open free-agent market, and Minnesota will have plenty of cap space at that time. The following players are merely speculative but can reasonably be considered on the roster bubbles of their respective teams:

  • K.J. Hamler
  • Mecole Hardman
  • Isaiah Hodgins
  • Isaiah McKenzie
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Kadarius Toney
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling
  • Robert Woods

Somebody like Woods would make a lot of sense, mainly because of his ties to Kevin O’Connell from the Los Angeles Rams days.

If Minnesota wants a different WR3, there will be options late-late in the summer.

Q: Do you think the Vikings could make J.J. McCarthy watch and learn in 2025 if Sam Darnold plays too well in 2024?

Vikings QB
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) takes a moment to watch TCU celebrate after Michigan lost, 51-45, at the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Answer: No.

It’s more than fine for McCarthy to observe as a spectator as a rookie — he’s only 21 — but forecasting two redshirt seasons is excessive. The Vikings probably want to strike while the iron is hot on McCarthy’s rookie contract, and the man just sitting and learning for two years is too long.

McCarthy will actually probably take over sometime this season; it really doesn’t matter how well Darnold plays. McCarthy is the future. Darnold is not.

If McCarthy doesn’t play in 2025, that will mean there’s a problem. An awful one. Like a Lewis Cine problem.

Q: What say you about Minnesota getting into the postseason and then getting frisky in the tournament?

WR3 Options
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

A: We say sure.

All the Vikings need to flirt with playoff seeding is semi-competent quarterback play. The team was alive until late in the season last year, and a quarterback carousel was present.

Whether Sam Darnold or J.J. McCarthy, Minnesota needs the quarterback to limit turnovers, feed the ball to Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, and hand the rock to Aaron Jones and Ty Chandler. If one passer can efficiently complete that checklist, the Vikings can nibble at the postseason.

And remember — if Darnold is good-good, they can win playoff games. The roster isn’t a batch of bad weak spots. Quarterback performance is the one big mystery.

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).

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