Vikings Evidently Have a “Hot Seat” Player

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The term usually applies to coaches and general managers, but last week, Pro Football Network delved into NFL players on the hot seat.

Vikings Evidently Have a “Hot Seat” Player

And for the 2024 Minnesota Vikings, that’s evidently new quarterback Sam Darnold.

Hot Seat
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Darnold indeed embarks on a pivotal season in 2024, which will likely determine his trajectory as an NFL quarterback. If he thrives in the Twin Cities, some team could hand him a Baker Mayfield-like contract next March. But if the experiment flounders, Darnold would be on deck for QB2 assignments henceforth, not unlike Carson Wentz, for example, over the last few years.

PFN revealed one player per team under the most pressure, and for Minnesota, Darnold got the nod.

“Darnold has managed to stay in the league for seven seasons after being selected third overall, but he’s never stayed healthy in any of those campaigns,” PFT’s Lorenzo Reyna wrote. “The Vikings, even with rookie J.J. McCarthy on board, present his fourth and potentially final NFL chance as a starting quarterback.”

Darnold took over in March for Kirk Cousins, who left for the money-filled pastures of the Atlanta Falcons. Cousins earned a four-year, $180 million contract from the Falcons, and as a patchover quarterback, Darnold signed in Minnesota for one year and $10 million. About six weeks later, the Vikings drafted J.J. McCarthy to lead life after Cousins, though Darnold will probably start immediately in 2024.

bleacher report
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Darnold joins Vikings Entertainment Network’s Gabe Henderson and discusses being coached now by his former New York Jets teammate, Josh McCown, being a big UFC fan, his journey through the NFL and more. Darnold became a Vikings in March 2024 after Kirk Cousins left for the Atlanta Falcons.

It’s worth noting that Darnold has never thrown more than 3,024 passing yards in a season — that was five years ago. He’s under pressure in the sense that 2024 could be his last best chance to remain a starter.

Meanwhile, head coach Kevin O’Connell said at minicamp a few weeks ago that QB1 is Darnold’s job to lose: “We haven’t had to put out a depth chart or anything like that, but I would say Sam would be the guy I would look to based on the spring he’s had and, really, where he’s at in his career and his quarterback journey, and what he’s been able to do coming in and [hitting] the ground running and taking advantage of the competitive situation.”

Vikings QB
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And about two weeks ago, Vikings safety Camryn Bynum — who should have decent knowledge of the situation — insisted that Minnesota has an honest-to-goodness summer quarterback battle on its hands.

“Having the two new quarterbacks, it’s fun being able to play against them and see what they bring to the table. They’re both looking really good,” Bynum told NFL Network on June 21st. “It’s exciting to see them compete. They’re both looking good, so I can’t put one over the other. I just say they both look ready. Whatever coaches decide, I trust them and their decision.”

Other hot-seat NFLers? PFN notably named Bryce Young of the Carolina Panthers, Deshaun Watson from the Cleveland Browns, and Stefon Diggs in Houston, among others.

Teams led by Darnold are 21-35 (.375) since 2018.


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.