NFL Trade Rumors: Minnesota Vikings Quarterback J.J. McCarthy Unlikely to Start Week 1

The Minnesota Vikings are in no rush to hold their new franchise quarterback to the fire. According to the Athletic's Alec Lewis, the Vikings "definitely" won't start quarterback J.J. McCarthy in Week 1 and may even keep him on the bench for the entirety of the 2024 season. The Vikings nabbed McCarthy with the 10th overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft after losing long-time quarterback Kirk Cousins to the Atlanta Falcons in free agency. Per Lewis, the Vikings intend to bring along McCarthy slowly and will instead opt to start Sam Darnold in the early portion of the regular season. The Vikings signed Darnold to a one-year, $10 million contract in March.

The Vikings can say they intend to take their time with McCarthy, but even the best-laid plans can fall to pieces when a season turns. If Darnold struggles, calls for the young quarterback's debut will quickly grow deafening. 

With stars like wide receiver Justin Jefferson, tight end T.J. Hockenson, and left tackle Christian Darrisaw already in place, the Vikings offense is ready to compete right away. Whenever McCarthy takes over, he'll inherit one of the league's most loaded supporting casts. Fans won't want to wait long to see him in action.

Given McCarthy's relative lack of college experience (he only threw 713 career passes at Michigan), it makes sense for the Vikings to be cautious. The NFL is rife with star quarterbacks who were afforded a year or more of seasoning on the bench, from Jordan Love to Patrick Mahomes to Aaron Rodgers.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, they don't have the benefit of an established, winning quarterback already in place. Love had Rodgers. Mahomes had Alex Smith. Rodgers had Bret Favre. Unless Darnold excels, McCarthy will likely be forced into duty before the end of the season. Even if the Vikings would prefer otherwise.

Photo Credit: © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK