There’s Already Enthusiasm for Vikings Newcomer

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Because nearly all Minnesota Vikings fans expect the club to draft a shiny new rookie quarterback in 16 days, folks haven’t quite adjusted to the prospect of Sam Darnold starting for the purple team in September.

There’s Already Enthusiasm for Vikings Newcomer

But the realization is probably coming.

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The Vikings let Kirk Cousins hit open free agency one month ago, and he promptly — perhaps with some tampering — signed with the Atlanta Falcons for four years and $180 million. Mere hours after Cousins to Atlanta looked semi-official, Minnesota added Darnold for one year and $10 million, an insurance policy for the eventual rookie quarterback, who will likely be revealed in about two weeks.

Of course, some would prefer letting the rookie passer ride in Week 1, but Minnesota is more likely to play it cautiously and let Darnold take the reins. Why? Well, why else throw the man $10 million? If the plan were to start Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy, for example, out of the gate, Nick Mullens as QB2 would work just fine.

vikings news roster
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And according to Bleacher Report, Darnold as QB1 might just work. BR’s Maurice Moton identified 10 players who will benefit the most from offseason scenery changes, and Darnold made the cut.

Moton explained, “Similar to Baker Mayfield with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, Darnold may have a chance to reinvent himself as a starter after failing to play up to the expectations of a top-three 2018 draft pick. He’ll have a talented pass-catching group if he’s the Vikings’ starter. Minnesota’s passing game features All-Pro receiver and 2022 Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson, ascending second-year wideout Jordan Addison, who caught 70 passes for 911 yards and 10 touchdowns in his rookie campaign, and two-time Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson, who is recovering from a torn ACL and MCL.”

Justin Jefferson Weighs in
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The San Francisco 49ers employed Darnold as a QB2 in 2023, a contingency plan for Brock Purdy. Ultimately, the 49ers reached the Super Bowl with Purdy, and Darnold wasn’t much needed. He hit free agency a month later.

“Even though Cousins went down with a torn Achilles midway through last season, the Vikings fielded a top-five passing offense in yards and touchdowns. If Darnold beats Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall and possibly a rookie for the lead role, he could revive his career in Minnesota and garner far more interest in free agency next offseason,” Moton added.

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Teams led by Darnold are 21-35 (.375) in 56 career starts, mostly the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers. In six seasons, he’s banked 63 passing touchdowns and 56 interceptions, with 182.8 passing yards per game. He’d obviously hope to fix those numbers in Minnesota, and if Moton is correct, the Vikings infrastructure is perfect for the assignment.

Darnold will turn 27 in June.

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).

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