3 Questions Remain Unanswered in Vikings Universe

justin jefferson
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The Minnesota Vikings entered the offseason with many questions, some of which they have already answered. With the departure of Kirk Cousins, that chapter is over after six seasons with the four-time Pro Bowler under center. J.J. McCarthy is supposed to be his successor long-term. On the defensive side of the ball, star pass-rusher Danielle Hunter also exited the building. At the same time, future Ring of Honor member Harrison Smith will play in purple for another season.

3 Questions Remain Unanswered in Vikings Universe

3 Questions Remain Unanswered in Vikings Universe
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

There are still three more matters the Vikings must cover in the next few weeks.

3. T.J. Hockenson Injury?

When general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah acquired a former top-ten pick from a division rival in 2022, it was quite a shock. He then extended T.J. Hockenson’s contract, and he played at a record-breaking pace in his first full season with the Vikings. That campaign, however, ended when former teammate Kerby Joseph hit him in the knee in Week 16. A torn MCL and a torn ACL secured the tight end a long recovery timeline.

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Nobody really knows that timeline, although nine months is considered a realistic schedule, which would force him to miss the first few games of the season.

Does the valuable weapon miss games, and if so, how many? Having him on the field, in addition to Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, is crucial for the offense.

The Athletic‘s Alec Lewis reported last week, “Hockenson is ahead of schedule in his rehab, but the Vikings are committed to ensuring he is fully healthy before he plays. Last year’s contract cemented the team’s belief that he is one of its cornerstone players. You don’t rush a player like that back from an injury this severe.”

The tight end himself didn’t rule out a Week 1 return in April. At this point, his timeline is a mystery. Fans should expect to gain some clarity when training camp rolls around in July.

2. Justin Jefferson Extension?

Everyone is waiting for the contract extension of the franchise’s star player. Since stepping onto an NFL field, Justin Jefferson has arguably been the best receiver in the league.

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In 60 career games, Jefferson has accumulated 5,899 yards and 30 scores, leading the NFL in all-time receiving yards per game—and it isn’t close. If there ever was a guy who deserved a fat contract extension, it is the fifth receiver taken in the 2020 draft.

So why isn’t the deal finally signed? Well, it is a huge contract worth north of $30 million a year, and details like the contract duration and the guaranteed money might be afterthoughts for the fans but neither for the player and his representatives nor the organization.

Regardless, the Vikings expressed their desire to make a deal, and the wideout mirrored that wish. Barring any shocking developments, that contract will be signed before the season kicks off, and it is just a matter of time.

1. Starting QB?

Sam Darnold
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Former third-overall pick Sam Darnold was signed to be the bridge quarterback until the Vikes can find a long-term solution in the draft. That solution arrived on April 25 when Adofo-Mensah secured national champion McCarthy out of Michigan. Suddenly, there is a QB controversy in Minnesota.

Darnold started his career in horrible situations with the Jets and Panthers but played well in his six starts in 2022 before he accepted the offer to back up Brock Purdy in San Francisco. The hope is that he can be productive in a good offense. Minnesota employs a trio of excellent receivers and a solid offensive line coached by a QB-friendly coach, so the spot is perfect for Darnold to revive his career.

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However, those surroundings can also benefit McCarthy. The passer played on the biggest stage in college when he won the national title with the Wolverines, although he wasn’t the driving force of the offense. He is somewhat pro-ready and could challenge Darnold for the starting role in training camp.

The veteran should be the favorite to take the first snap in Week 1 because the Vikings want to be patient, but McCarthy simply winning the job can’t be ruled out.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt