Here’s Why You Should Love Sam Darnold

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The Minnesota Vikings said enough was enough when Kirk Cousins looked for another massive payday. Transitioning to a new era and looking for a young quarterback to solidify their future, they turned to Sam Darnold. That’s only part of the process, though, and it makes a good deal of sense.

Here’s Why You Should Love Sam Darnold

Coming in on a one-year deal that could be worth up to $10 million, Sam Darnold is effectively the Vikings’ bridge quarterback. His signing doesn’t preclude them from drafting a quarterback in the first round; realistically, it almost ensures that they will. That means Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will get a chance to mold their prospect as they hope to employ a fixture for the future.

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In Darnold, though, O’Connell and new quarterbacks coach Josh McCown get a chance to give the former USC Trojan something he has never had at the professional level: a realistic shot at success. Playing with the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers, Darnold has only ever known bad situations and poorly managed organizations. He has lacked talent around him, and the instruction would be classified as lackluster at best. Despite being 26 years old, which happens to be the same age as Minnesota’s 2023 rookie Jaren Hall, this is a fresh start for the NFL veteran.

Suggesting that Darnold will now blossom into the star he was once expected to be as a draft prospect would be putting lofty expectations on things. That said, it’s not unfathomable that being surrounded by smart football coaches and the most offensive talent he has ever seen won’t give him a good shot at paving a new path. Regardless of who Minnesota brings in, the hope is that Darnold can start the first handful of games and that his play warrants consideration to take the job even longer. Should a rookie sit behind him for a full season, it would reflect a performance that those around the league have been waiting for.

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Thinking Darnold will be with Minnesota for the long haul would be shortsighted, but competent play here could vault him back into consideration for a long-term starting gig a year from now. The Seattle Seahawks saw Geno Smith resurrect his career and handed him a payday as a reward. The Vikings won’t be paying Darnold for the long haul, but it could be because of this franchise that he finds himself on an upward swing.

Nothing about Darnold’s inclusion on the Vikings’ 53-man roster changes the focus for the future. A rookie should still be coming, and the quarterback position shouldn’t need to be manned by either Hall or Nick Mullens in the year ahead. Everything about that scenario is ideal, and allowing O’Connell to evaluate the timelines for all the pieces to be plugged in should also excite fans.

Vikings QB
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Although Kirk Cousins was a staple over the past seven seasons, Minnesota found themselves lacking in several other areas because of his massive hit to the salary cap. That burden is now removed, and building around the most crucial position in sports can be the focal point.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.