Vikings ‘Losers’ After Signing Darnold, Path to Franchise QB Narrowed to 2 Players - Sport News

Vikings ‘Losers’ After Signing Darnold, Path to Franchise QB Narrowed to 2 Players

The Minnesota Vikings made a big bet by signing quarterback Sam Darnold to replace Kirk Cousins, and it’s a risk that has already met with considerable scrutiny.

Bill Barnwell of ESPN wrote on Tuesday, March 12 that he was somewhat perplexed by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s decision to pursue Darnold over a handful of other options who have more successful NFL histories, who Minnesota could have paid less than the approximately $10 million Darnold will earn next season, or both.

Vikings to sign QB Sam Darnold as replacement to Kirk Cousins

It’s unclear who would and would not have taken Minnesota’s offer, but there had to be better options out there.

Jacoby Brissett has been a much better quarterback than Darnold. Joe Flacco looked much better last season than Darnold ever has, and that was with two backup tackles and no running game. Russell Wilson was better and would have played for $1.2 million.

All of those quarterbacks are much older, but the Vikings have a playoff-caliber roster if they can get competent play under center. They nearly got there with Joshua Dobbs and Nick Mullens at quarterback for half of the 2023 season.

Given the game of QB musical chairs that has played out in free agency, Minnesota has left itself with only one real option under center if the Darnold signing is to make sense — select a franchise quarterback in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.

Vikings Must Land Rookie QB, 3 Options Most Likely Based on Draft Position/Trade Scenarios

Washington Commanders, Denver Broncos, J.J. McCarthy

Who that quarterback will be isn’t precisely clear, though the options are fairly evident. The Vikings pick at No. 11 and at least two or three signal-callers will be gone before they make their selection — even if Minnesota trades up into a better draft position.

The Chicago Bears are likely to draft Caleb Williams of USC with the first overall pick, and the way Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels of LSU has rocketed up mock drafts across the nation, he appears a lock to go second to the Washington Commanders or third to the New England Patriots.

Michael Penix Jr. was excellent last season at Washington, but he has not caught the same kind of heat that the two aforementioned prospects have, or even arguably as another group of three signal-callers — from which the Vikings are most likely to select their next QB of the future.

Those players are Drake Maye of UNC, J.J. McCarthy of Michigan and Bo Nix of Oregon. Of the three, Nix is the most likely to remain available come the 11th pick considering how many other teams beyond the top three in the draft could be looking for quarterbacks in round one.

If the Vikings want to get into the game for Maye or McCarthy, they will probably need to trade up into the top five. In that case, the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 5 are the most viable candidates, as they already have their long-term answer at quarterback in Justin Herbert.

The future draft capital that will cost Minnesota won’t be minimal, but it appears the Vikings have painted themselves into a corner and have little other choice than to pounce on a quarterback this April.

Vikings Put Themselves in ‘Impossible Bind’ Unless They Draft Elite QB Prospect
Kirk Cousins, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Commanders

If drafting a quarterback isn’t in the Vikings’ plans, or if aggressive moves by other teams thwart those plans this April, Barnwell described Minnesota as having put themselves in an “impossible bind” at quarterback.

[The Vikings are] getting younger, but a significant deal for [Jonathan] Greenard and the record-setting deal expected for Justin Jefferson aren’t going to mean much unless Darnold’s a totally different player in Minnesota.

While again acknowledging they could still add a quarterback in April’s draft, should the decision to move on from Cousins have triggered more of a substantial rebuild? I can understand not wanting to move forward with Cousins, who had the Vikings in what felt like a competitive purgatory at times over the last few years, but I’m not convinced by the decision to replace him with Darnold.

Convinced or not, though, Minnesota has made its bed by choosing Darnold over a host of other options, and selecting McCarthy or Nix should help the Vikings rest much easier come April.

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