Vikings Again Linked to Popular Rookie QB

purple rumor mill
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) signs autographs during the national championship celebration at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The 2024 NFL Draft is 11 weeks away, and the Minnesota Vikings might be in the mood for a quarterback.

That’s the general sentiment among Vikings fans, waiting to see in the next five weeks if the purple team re-signs quarterback Kirk Cousins or lets him walk to free agency for the first time since 2018. As of February 7th, Cousins’ long-term status is a genuine coinflip. 50-50.

Vikings Again Linked to Popular Rookie QB

And if the Vikings don’t retain Cousins — or even if he’s re-signed — Minnesota could identify and draft a successor to watch and learn for a year or two. Recently, growing sentiment suggests that it could be Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.

to Popular Rookie
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.

Bleacher Report‘s Jordan Schultz linked McCarthy to the Vikings this week 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.”

He called McCarthy a Brock Purdy-like “winner” and claimed the Wolverine could eventually slide into the Vikings offense and thrive.

Nov 25, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws during the second half of the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State lost 30-24. © Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

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McCarthy, for now, is considered “one of the other” rookie quarterback options behind Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina), and Jayden Daniels (LSU), who are expected to fly off the draftboard in the first three or five picks. Michael Penix Jr. (Washington) and Bo Nix (Oregon) live in McCarthy’s tier, although the supremacy will change in the next 11 weeks, especially with the NFL Combine around the bend.

Last week, ESPN also tied McCarthy to Minnesota. Per ESPN, the Vikings will “do both” — retain Cousins while drafting Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy in Round 2. Kevin Seifert explained about Cousins’ future foremost, “Cousins’ deal doesn’t void until after the deadline for franchise tags, so this would be an extension. He has repeatedly said he wants to end his career in Minnesota, and as he departed the locker room for the offseason, Cousins left the clear impression that he hoped the Vikings’ offer would reflect a similar wish.”

New Wrinkle for Kirk
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings’ leaders have said for months that they’d like Cousins back for Year No. 7 if the contract terms align.

Selecting McCarthy with the 11th pick (or trading back and still drafting him) would merge both worlds: a Cousins and McCarthy future at QB1. Cousins for now; McCarthy for later.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Seifert then tabbed McCarthy as a 2nd-Round pick for Minnesota, “The Vikings would be thrilled with this outcome, whether they get McCarthy via a trade up into the first round or by having him fall to them on Day 2. Oregon’s Bo Nix was also available here, and he might have been the choice if Cousins hadn’t been re-signed. But with the veteran under contract for the next couple of years in this scenario, the Vikings have a longer runway to develop McCarthy, who is 21 years old.”

McCarthy just turned 21 last month, so this plan by the Vikings would make sense — letting the youngster watch and learn for a year or two behind Cousins. It also emulates the Green Bay Packers’ prototype that has netted success with back-to-back passers in Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love.

Finally, a portion of the draft community foresees the Vikings finagling a fancy trade up the draftboard for Williams, Maye, or Daniels. The McCarthy idea, however, mentioned by Schultz and Seifert, is probably more realistic. It isn’t as expensive and is less risky.

The NFL Draft kicks off in 78 days.

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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