Vikings Will Welcome a New Quarterback to Town, Sign Former Top-3 Pick

Not too many people will be enthused by the option, but the Vikings will welcome Sam Darnold to town.

The NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport provided the news: “A new QB in Minnesota: The #Vikings are expected to sign #49ers QB Sam Darnold, per me and @TomPelissero. Darnold gets a 1-year deal worth $10M, sources say, and joins former teammate Josh McCown, who is Minnesota’s new QB coach. Kirk Cousins out, Darnold in.”

Vikings Will Welcome Sam Darnold to MIN

Sam Darnold is a competitive rebuild player.

At 6’3″, 225, Darnold has an excellent build for an NFL QB. Partner the size with some youth (26) and then his status as the 3rd overall selection from the 2018 NFL Draft. Certainly looks like a Kwesi Adofo-Mensah move.

The Vikings have had some interest in him for a little while, as Tom Pelissero notes: “The #Vikings had been eyeing Sam Darnold as a fallback for some time in the event Kirk Cousins left. Could the former No. 3 overall pick be this year’s Baker Mayfield? Or is Darnold a bridge to a rookie? Minnesota owns the No. 11 overall pick.”

Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) celebrates after a play during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

For his career, Darnold has played in 66 games, starting 56. For the most part, things haven’t gone particularly well.

He has a 21-35-0 QB record, and the broader set of stats aren’t flattering.

Sam Darnold has completed 59.7% of his passes, a concerning number given how high of a priority accuracy is for Kevin O’Connell. The 63 career touchdown passes stand alongside 56 career interceptions and 38 fumbles.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jan 1, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (45) pressures Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In fairness, Darnold has played for some awful teams. He was drafted by the Jets and then began his career’s second chapter with the Panthers. Folks, there have been better spots for a young quarterback to play.

Last season, Darnold was the backup QB in San Francisco, which is something that O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah will appreciate. Coming out of the Kyle Shanahan QB school will be seen as a positive. Few, if any, construct an offense as well as Mr. Shanahan.

And then there’s the price tag. The deal Kirk Cousins got in Atlanta made very little sense for Minnesota. The Vikings’ GM is protecting his team by onboarding a young passer with some upside for a cheap, prove-it deal.

NFL: Combine
Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah talks to the media at the 2024 NFL Combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings are expected to be very interested in this year’s batch of draftable QBs. Someone may slide down to No. 11 or the Vikings could hop up into the draft’s top 10. Or, perhaps, they circle around to the position on Day 2.

If there’s no newcomer in the draft, the Vikings will move ahead with Sam Darnold alongside Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall. That cluster won’t win any awards for most promising QB room, but there’s some potential that someone takes off and proves to be a reasonably strong starter.

As of this morning, Over the Cap was still suggesting Minnesota had close to $33 million in cap space, but that’s without factoring in much of the business from yesterday.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.