Report: Vikings to Get “Aggressive” for One QB in Particular

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret. After the Minnesota Vikings lost quarterback Kirk Cousins to free agency, the franchise needs a quarterback — one to develop behind newcomer Sam Darnold or possibly start right away.

Report: Vikings to Get “Aggressive” for One QB in Particular

As of late March, all signs point to Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy as that candidate, a man whose draft stock has soared in the last two months.

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy looks to pass against Indiana during the second half of U-M’s 52-7 win over Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Ann Arbor. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

ESPN’s Matt Miller provided the evidence last week, citing Minnesota’s ardor for McCarthy and would-be aggressive trade pursuit for the Wolverine. “The Vikings sent neither general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah nor coach Kevin O’Connell to the Michigan pro day Friday, but quarterbacks coach Josh McCown was firmly planted right behind McCarthy during his 25-minute throwing session,” Miller wrote about Minnesota’s representation at McCarthy’s Pro Day.

Then, Miller spiced it up, “In talking to NFL personnel while on the road at pro days this week, the feeling is still the Vikings will be aggressive in trading up to the No. 4 or No. 5 spot to land the Michigan quarterback. One general manager I talked to this week said McCarthy is a top-six pick right now. The question is who will trade up to get him.”

Ranking the Vikings' Needs Prior to Free Agency
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Sportsbooks believe McCarthy will likely become a Viking in 2024 and beyond, listing Minnesota with a -115 moneyline for his services. No other NFL team bests that. Eleven days ago, the Vikings pulled off an unforeseen pre-draft trade, sending two 2nd-Round picks to Houston for the Texans’ 2024 1st-Rounder (Pick No. 23) and a late-round pick swap. The move positioned Adofo-Mensah to move up in the draft via second trade, which could hit at any minute or on draft night. Many believe McCarthy is the Vikings’ target.

The aforementioned Cousins quarterbacked the Vikings for six seasons between 2018 and 2023 but hit free agency two weeks ago. With perhaps a little bit of tampering involved, Cousins left Minnesota for the irresistible money dangled by the Atlanta Falcons, seizing a four-year deal worth $180 million. The Cousins Era is over, and Minnesota, as an insurance policy, added veteran passer Sam Darnold the day after Cousins-to-Atlanta news broke.

Gets the CNN
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

McCarthy met with the Vikings at the 2024 NFL Combine and said about the meeting, “Coach O’Connell led the whole thing. Everything they talked about wanting out of a QB aligns with what I want. Just being able to get on the board with them, go through their plays, it was special.”

A 6’3″ and 220-pounder, McCarthy turned 21 in January, so he’s extremely young, especially by recent draft class’ standards. He can make all throws necessary in an NFL offense, with a caveat hesitation on his deep-ball acumen. Michigan didn’t ask McCarthy to throw deep outside the numbers too often, so his new NFL team will have to develop the skill or hope Michigan simply didn’t use it.

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December 31, 2022; Glendale, Ariz; USA; Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy (9) throws a pass during the pregame before the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Ncaa Fiesta Bowl Game

If the Vikings don’t end up with McCarthy or the Miller reporting is incorrect, most Vikings fans believe North Carolina’s Drake Maye would be the purple team’s draft target — also via trade.

On “trading up to No. 4 or No. 5,” Minnesota would have to do business with the Arizona Cardinals or Los Angeles Chargers via trade.

The NFL draft is 30 days away.

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).

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