J.J. McCarthy Collaborating with You Know Who

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.

The connection doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at least per Minnesota Vikings fans‘ viewing pleasure, the response is something like, “Hell yes.”

J.J. McCarthy Collaborating with You Know Who

Former Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen posted a video to Instagram this week of his collaboration with J.J. McCarthy, Minnesota’s shiny new rookie quarterback. The two are not teammates, but Minnesota evidently still remains near and dear to Thielen’s heart.

J.J. McCarthy
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Thielen plays for the Carolina Panthers, and although his team utterly stunk in 2023, his individual performance stood out as his best showing in years. Minus wins and losses, Thielen in Carolina emphatically worked — to the tune of 103 receptions and 1,014 yards. It marked the first season since 2018 that Thielen crossed the 1,000-yard plateau, if that can be believed.

Here’s the post from Thielen:

McCarthy told reporters right after this month’s minicamp that he’d remain in Minnesota until training camp — music to fans’ ears because it seemed to signal dedication and commitment to his development. The young Wolverine may not start Week 1 this September — teammate Sam Darnold is on deck for that duty — but McCarthy will do the diligence and continue to learn the Vikings’ playbook for the next four weeks nevertheless.

J.J. McCarthy
Minnesota Vikings quarterback J.J. McCarthy at the first day of rookie minicamp on May 10th, 2024, in Eagan, Minnesota. TCO Performance Center. McCarthy was drafted by the Vikings with the 10th overall pick on April 25th, 2024, in Detroit.

Thielen agreed to a three-year, $25 million deal in Carolina 15 months ago and will hope the Panthers’ fortune reverses in 2024. They were the worst team in the NFL last year. Meanwhile, Thielen will turn 34 later this summer, so he’ll hope quarterback Bryce Young takes the next step as a sophomore this season.

Earlier this offseason, Thielen shed light on his departure from Minnesota in 2023. He was asked by Forbes if the Vikings approached him about a reunion last offseason, and he replied, “They did not, no. It never really got to that point. At that point, it was, do you guys want me to come back this year?”

Adam Thielen Excited
Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings walks the red carpet before the NFL Honors awards special at the Phoenix Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. © Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Thielen continued, “Obviously they’re building for the future. They really did some great things. They drafted a young receiver that did a great job. I think they had a very specific plan of what their time was for the future and they’re attacking that and going after it. It is what it is. Have nothing but respect for all those guys.”

Jordan Addison was the young receiver mentioned by Thielen, and he took off immediately in Minnesota. He might’ve fetched Offensive Rookie of the Year attention, but after Kirk Cousins fell injured in October, replacement passers struggled to target the rookie.

new qb
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Of course, after the Thielen-McCarthy video hit social media, some fans wondered if Thielen would ever return to his roots and play for the Vikings. That probably won’t happen in 2024, but the Panthers could somewhat easily wiggle out of the contract next offseason if they saw fit. So — never say never about one more hurrah for Thielen in the Twin Cities, even if it involved his age-35 season.

Thielen ranks third in Vikings history in receiving touchdowns (55) and fourth in yards (6,682).

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.