Every Juicy Storyline for the 2024 Vikings. 37 of Them.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings kick off the 2024 regular season in 113 days, looking to improve on a 7-10 record under third-year head coach Kevin O’Connell.

But first, mandatory minicamp begins in June, followed by training camp in July. After that, three preseason games help determine roster battles, roster trimdowns are due in late August, and the regular season starts on September 8th.

Every Juicy Storyline for the 2024 Vikings. 37 of Them.

And to prepare you for the Vikings’ 2024 season, these are 37 storylines to monitor — questions facing the franchise — from now until next January or February. For curious minds, these are last year’s 37 storylines.

The storylines are ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = top storyline).

37. Will “Prospect X” Levi Drake Rodriguez Make the 53-Man Roster?

Levi Drake Rodriguez
Levi Drake Rodriguez. Image Courtesy of lionathletics.com. The Vikings drafted Drake Rodriguez in Round 7 of the 2024 NFL Draft, and he’ll compete for a roster spot this summer.

Minnesota is begging for a defensive tackle to step up, and some believe this late-round, small-school prospect could conduct a sweet summer and see regular season action. The Athletic called Drake Rodriguez “the most overlooked player in the draft.” Are they right?

36. Will an Unsung WR like Thayer Thomas or Trishton Jackson Emerge?

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin O’Connell sang Thayer Thomas’ praises last week, and overall, Minnesota has about 13 wide receivers on the active roster. Will one of them blossom like Adam Thielen a decade ago?

35. Will New Kickoff Rules Save Kene Nwangwu’s Roster Spot?

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

In a contract year, the NFL changed the kickoff return rules, which, in theory, should be music to Nwangwu’s ears. His deadliness in the return game could earn him a roster spot that might’ve flown off the board if kickoffs stayed the same.

34. How Much Workload Does Ty Chandler Experience?

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

Chandler played wonderfully for a couple of games down the stretch of 2023. But then Aaron Jones entered the chat, relegating Chandler back to RB21. It’s unlikely for Jones to earn a bellcow carry load, so how much work will Chandler see in 2024?

33. Will Kevin O’Connell Avoid All Hot Seat Chatter?

Shy about Trading
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota’s leadership duo of Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah bought themselves time by drafting J.J. McCarthy last month. But that doesn’t mean Minnesota can finish with a rotten record scot-free. O’Connell may need an 8-9 or 7-10 record to avoid hot-seat chatter from NFL pundits.

32. Can Will Reichard or Parker Romo Shine — or Follow Normal Vikings Kicker Doldrums?

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports.

Reichard will probably win the kicker job, and his college resume is pretty spiffy. Well, everyone awaits a verdict on his transition to the NFL because Vikings kickers also seem to get snakebitten by unknown voodoo.

31. Which EDGE Rusher Will Get Cut?

Welp, the Vikings Have a New Magic Number.
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings suddenly have “too much” EDGE depth, particularly if UDFA Gabriel Murphy performs well this summer. That puts men like Patrick Jones II, Andre Carter II, and Jihad Ward on the roster bubble.

30. Will Ed Ingram Catch on as a Good-Good Starter?

Ingram Starting
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

For now, Ingram is a serviceable-to-decent NFL starting guard. Because he was drafted in the 2nd Round two years ago — guards from the 2nd Round are supposed to be wonderful, not just okay — Ingram is due to take the jump in 2024 and become a formidable offensive lineman.

29. Does Brian Asamoah Bounce Back from a Quiet Second Year?

Defender on the Road
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Ivan Pace Jr. took Brian Asamoah’s job last summer, and Asamoah rarely saw the field in 2023, battling some injuries along the way. Like Booth and Cine later on this list, 2023 is ultra-important for Asamoah’s career trajectory.

28. Do the Vikings Avoid a Last-Place Finish in Competitive NFC North?

Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports.

Not long ago — the 2022 season — the Packers, Lions, and Bears weren’t very scary. Now, they’re all scary, especially if Caleb Williams fulfills his draft scouting report. Because of stiff competition in the NFC North, Minnesota has to steer clear of the division’s basement.

27. Does Brian Flores’ Defense Climb into the Top 10?

gabriel murphy
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores chatting with Tatum Everett on February 15th, 2023. The Vikings hired Flores from the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was a linebackers coach for one season.

In 2022, Minnesota’s defense ranked 24th per DVOA. O’Connell cut ties with defensive coordinator Ed Donatell in favor of Brian Flores, who promptly generated the league’s 11th-best defense per the same metric. The Vikings enhanced Flores’ personnel in 2024, so can the Flores defense climb from No. 11 into the Top 10?

26. Will UDFA Gabriel Murphy Mirror Ivan Pace Jr.’s UDFA Experience?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have a knack for signing the best undrafted free agents, last year with Ivan Pace Jr. and this year with Gabriel Murphy, an EDGE rusher from UCLA. Both were undersized and evidently not coveted by NFL general managers. Murphy can follow Pace Jr.’s 2023 blueprint if he’s got the juice.

25. Is 2024 Garrett Bradbury’s Final Year with the Team?

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Once again, Bradbury enters a contract year, not unlike 2022. That season, he played well enough to fetch an extension, and the same stakes follow him into 2024.

24. Does Jonathan Greenard Get Double-Digit Sacks?

vikings move
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The direct replacement for Danielle Hunter, who joined Greenard’s old team, Greenard has large shoes to fill. He banked double-digit sacks for the first time in 2023 and seeks to translate that statline to the Twin Cities.

23. Will Christian Darrisaw Make the Pro Bowl, Finally?

Revamp in Order
Ezra Cleveland and Christian Darrisaw

Annually, Darrisaw is snubbed by Pro Bowl voters. He must finally get the nod before too long. The man is too good.

22. Will Sam Darnold Script a “Baker Mayfield” Season?

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports.

Darnold will be plopped into the best NFL situation of his life. It hasn’t worked in New York or Carolina, and the man really wasn’t afforded a real shake in San Francisco. Folks wonder if he can be “this year’s Baker Mayfield,” reclaiming his career in a quarterback-friendly system.

21. Which EDGE Rusher Gets More Snaps? Andrew Van Ginkel or Dallas Turner?

Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Dallas Turner at the first day of rookie minicamp on May 10th, 2024, in Eagan, Minnesota. TCO Performance Center. Turner was drafted by the Vikings with the 17th overall pick on April 25th, 2024, in Detroit.

Andrew Van Ginkel was on tap to start for the Vikings — for about six weeks. Then, the franchise drafted Dallas Turner, and he’ll start sooner or later. Therefore, when the season hits the midpoint, which outside linebacker will receive more snaps? Van Ginkel or Turner?

20. Does Justin Jefferson Finally Grab 2,000 Yards?

justin jefferson
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

This one isn’t as loud as last year, but a healthy Justin Jefferson will likely always target a 2,000-yard receiving yard season during his prime. Jefferson injured his hamstring last year, stunting all conversations about the goal, but 2024 is a new year to renew the goal.

19. Who’s the Odd Man Out at QB3? Nick Mullens or Jaren Hall?

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Between J.J. McCarthy, Sam Darnold, Nick Mullens, and Jaren Hall, Minnesota has “too many” quarterbacks for an active regular season roster. Mullens or Hall will be the odd man out, either via practice squad assignment, roster cut, or trade.

18. Does Mekhi Blackmon Build on a Wonderful Rookie Season?

2 Rookies Balling
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

As a rookie, Blackmon tabulated a 71.8 Pro Football Focus grade, and no one got too excited about it. They should have. Perhaps Blackmon can make a name for himself in Year No. 2.

17. Will Jordan Addison Avoid a Sophomore Slump?

Build A Wide
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

A few nationally-themed websites have whispered that Addison could encounter a sophomore slump without Kirk Cousins tossing the rock. Addison provided plenty of showstopping moments as a rookie, and the masses want to make sure that translates to 2024 with no Cousins in charge.

16. Which Man Wins the DT Job Next to Harrison Phillips?

Vikings Offseason
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings couldn’t land a big fish at DT like Christian Wilkins or Arik Armstead, instead adding Jerry Tillery and Jonah Williams. It’s the weakest spot on the roster, so fans want to know which man eventually wins the job. Jonathan Bullard is in the mix again, too.

15. Will the Vikings Add a Free Agent like Calais Campbell, Hunter Renfrow, or Another RB?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Every offseason, there’s one man Vikings fans want the team to sign. Last year, Dalton Risner and Ndamukong Suh topped the wishlist. This year, it’s Calais Campbell and Hunter Renfrow, with a side dish of Risner again, who remains a free agent. Will Minnesota spend some of its cap space on an impact free agent or two?

14. What’s the Final Verdict on Andrew Booth?

Grim Injury News for Vikings CB
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

No one quite knows who will start at cornerback for Minnesota — more on that later — but Booth actually performed well as a sophomore. Now, he must take the next step and consistently get into Brian Flores’ defensive rotation. The time is now for Booth.

13. Does Lewis Cine Make the Team? Have an Impact in 2023?

Cine Update Is
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Various Vikings have already labeled Cine as a “bust,” but the man has one big shot to a) Make the team in 2024 b) Command defensive snaps. He broke his leg in October 2022, perhaps redshirting his effectiveness in 2023. Like the man previously on this list, it’s all or nothing for Cine this season.

12. Who’s the WR3?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Powell, Trent Sherfield, and Jalen Nailor will vie for the WR3 job unless general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah adds a free agent like Hunter Renfrow. This job belonged to K.J. Osborn in years past, but heading into the summer of 2024, WR3 is a mystery. And the spot is vital because T.J. Hockenson may not be available right away in 2024.

11. Which Defensive Backs Fail to Make the 53-Man Roster?

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports.

These are the Vikings’ defensive backs at the moment:

  1. Harrison Smith
  2. Camryn Bynum
  3. Josh Metellus
  4. Byron Murphy
  5. Mekhi Blackmon
  6. Shaquill Griffin
  7. Andrew Booth
  8. Khyree Jackson
  9. NaJee Thompson
  10. Jay Ward
  11. Akayleb Evans
  12. Lewis Cine
  13. Theo Jackson
  14. Dwight McGlothern
  15. Jaylin Williams
  16. A.J. Green III

Around a maximum of 11 or 12 of those players will make the 53-man roster, and that might be generous. Some awkward DB cuts are on the way in August.

10. Which CBs Start in 2024?

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

These are Minnesota’s cornerbacks as of mid-May:

CB1: Byron Murphy
CB2: Akayleb Evans
CB3: Mekhi Blackmon
CB4: Shaquill Griffin
CB5: Andrew Booth
CB6: Khyree Jackson
CB7: NaJee Thompson
CB8: Jaylin Williams
CB9: A.J. Green III
CB10: Dwight McGlothern

Aside from Murphy, no one knows who will start on Sundays.

9. Is the Postseason in Play around December?

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

In every season since 2014, Minnesota has been relevant enough for inclusion in playoff scenarios during the month of December. Most fans expect a learning-curve season because of the quarterback position, but will the Vikings find a way to be 6-6 or so through 12 games?

8. Does the Rushing Game Finally Improve?

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings Rushing Offense DVOA:

2022 = 27th
2023 = 27th

Aaron Jones joined the club in March, a would-be veteran fix to a problem spanning two seasons. Does the plan work?

7. Can Vikings Return to Winning Ways at Home?

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Connell’s team was 2-6 at home in 2023 — an awful mark for a franchise that is habitually stellar at home. It certainly wasn’t bad news that Minnesota played well on the road, but the goal is to do both. We shall see if the Vikings return to a dominant homefield advantage that has been showcased at U.S. Bank Stadium in every season since the place opened in 2016 (except 2023).

6. Does Blake Brandel Really Get the Nod at LG?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

Dalton Risner has not re-signed with Minnesota for a sequel, nominating Brandel for LG duty. That may be fine and dandy, but many question whether promoting an unproven, reservist lineman is wise during a season when a rookie quarterback will probably take the reins. Stay tuned.

5. Is This the Last Hurrah for Harrison Smith?

harrison smith
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

This was on the list last year: Harrison Smith turned 35 in February. At some point, his final season will be underway, and no one is too sure if it’s 2024 or 2025.

4. When Will J.J. McCarthy Take over as QB1?

Vikings QB
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) takes a moment to watch TCU celebrate after Michigan lost, 51-45 at the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Vikings fans will debate Darnold vs. McCarthy all summer, and although Darnold will likely be the starter out of the gate, curious minds want to know when McCarthy will formally ascend to QB1.

3. When Does T.J. Hockenson See the Field?

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Hockenson was injured in December and probably won’t be ready for Week 1. The question is whether he’ll be back in September or October — or more like November or December.

2. When Is Justin Jefferson’s Extension Finalized?

justin jefferson
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota’s front office and Justin Jefferson’s representation have negotiated an extension for 17 months. Both sides have claimed the deal is inevitable, but when will it actually be finalized?

1. Is J.J. McCarthy The Real Deal?

Minnesota Vikings 2024 NFL Draft. Watch as QB J.J. McCarthy addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Friday. The Vikings traded up one spot on the draftboard with the New York Jets for McCarthy.

This one can be tabbed as the Vikings’ top storyline for the next 1-4 years. The only thing that really matters about the football team for the foreseeable future is whether McCarthy morphs into a franchise quarterback. If he does not, it’ll be more of the same from the past 15 years with Christian Ponder and Teddy Bridgewater per drafting quarterbacks.

However, McCarthy could become the first Vikings quarterback since the 1980s to lead the franchise for longer than 5.5 seasons, which is how long Daunte Culpepper and Kirk Cousins lasted.

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.