J.J. McCarthy Has a Rumored Start Date

rookie
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings kickstarted a new era four weeks ago, drafting Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy with the 10th overall pick after much speculation that the franchise would find “the next guy.” The former quarterback, Kirk Cousins, left in March for the Atlanta Falcons.

J.J. McCarthy Has a Rumored Start Date

Following the McCarthy selection, folks wondered when the 21-year-old might see the field, a topic that will ratchet up this summer at training camp and in the preseason.

McCarthy
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Conveniently, there’s a new theory about McCarthy’s go-live date, as The Purple Persuasion tweeted last weekend, “Per Ben Goessling and Michael Rand via Access Vikings, given how the schedule is laid out, they both believe Vikings QB J.J. McCarthy will likely start week 12 with the 3-game homestand against the Cardinals, Falcons, and Bears. They both also fully expect a McCarthy vs. Kirk Cousins matchup in Week 13.”

For context, here’s the Vikings’ full regular season schedule that was released last Wednesday:

Week 1 — at New York Giants
Week 2 — vs. San Francisco 49ers
Week 3 — vs. Houston Texans
Week 4 — at Green Bay Packers
Week 5 — vs. New York Jets (London)
Week 6 — Bye
Week 7 — vs. Detroit Lions
Week 8 — at Los Angeles Rams (TNF)
Week 9 — vs. Indianapolis Colts
Week 10 — at Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 11 — at Tennessee Titans
Week 12 — at Chicago Bears
Week 13 — vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 14 — vs. Atlanta Falcons
Week 15 — vs. Chicago Bears (MNF)
Week 16 — at Seattle Seahawks
Week 17 — vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 18 — at Detroit Lions

J.J. McCarthy
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Star Tribune hypothesis would grant McCarthy six starts to close out the 2024 season, while, of course, Minnesota’s would-be record at the time remains a complete unknown. If the club had a winning record with Sam Darnold, signed by Minnesota in March as a patchover quarterback for McCarthy, Darnold would likely stay in place.

An upside-down record, however, could pave the way for McCarthy, possibly aligning with the Goessling and Rand timeline.

Vikings
Minnesota 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.

Meanwhile, former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber concocted a theory similar to Goessling and Rand last week. “I think most likely, looking at the schedule, I wouldn’t expect to see McCarthy, all things being equal, no injuries, all that other stuff. I don’t expect to see him until about December 1st,” Leber said on KFAN this week.

The two theories are only about a week apart.

vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert explained on April 26th about the Vikings’ plan for McCarthy, “The Vikings will follow an individualized development plan they created for each of the quarterbacks they considered drafting, one that requires McCarthy to hit specific benchmarks and gives coach Kevin O’Connell full authority to make the timing decision.”

Those benchmarks could be checked off the list this summer — or not at all in 2024. That’s the greatest Vikings-themed mystery at the moment.

It’s worth noting that the Vikings have never started a rookie quarterback in Week 1 of a season.


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.

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