Vikings Training Camp Sneak Peek: Quarterbacks

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy kisses the championship trophy to celebrate the Wolverines' 34-13 win over Washington in the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

The Minnesota Vikings begin their annual training camp in 2024 with the arrival of the rookies on July 21st, followed by the remaining players on July 23rd. The quarterback position will be the main focus after the exit of six-year starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. Two new signal-callers will compete to be his successor.

Who’s in the Room Entering Vikings Training Camp?

The Vikings employ four QBs. Cousins left for the Atlanta Falcons, and Joshua Dobbs is the new backup in San Francisco.

1. Sam Darnold

vikings training camp
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

Minnesota, meanwhile, signed Sam Darnold in free agency. The parties agreed on a one-year contract worth $10 million. After struggling in the first three years of his career with the Jets and the following two with the Panthers, the 2024 Vikings might be his final chance to be a starter in the league. Last season, Darnold took a step back and became Brock Purdy’s replacement for Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers.

In 56 career starts and 66 total games, Danold has recorded 12,064 passing yards, 63 passing touchdowns, and 56 interceptions, while adding 760 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns to the stat sheet. Subpar coaching and underwhelming offensive lines and receivers followed him throughout his career. The Vikings hope their QB-friendly supporting cast can help him take his game to the next level.

2. J.J. McCarthy

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy makes a pass against Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner during the first half of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.

While Darnold is viewed as a bridge solution, the organization’s future is J.J. McCarthy. The rookie was selected with the tenth overall pick. At age 21, McCarthy has two years of starting experience, including three playoff games. He also quarterbacked his program to the national championship in January.

In his three seasons at Michigan, McCarthy passed for 6,226 yards, 49 touchdowns, and 11 picks. His throwing power has already drawn some praise, and so has his leadership ability. He also provides a much better mobility than Cousins and Darnold.

3. Nick Mullens

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) looks to pass against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Mullens, Cousins’ backup in the last two seasons, started three games and logged seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. He was acquired in August 2022 and has been the QB2 since. His veteran experience and knowledge of the offense, combined with his gunslinger type of play on the field, make him a perfect backup who can light up a defense in any game he is asked to. On the flip side, he is prone to making mistakes, which can lead to some terrible outings and catastrophic mistakes.

4. Jaren Hall

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell and quarterback Jaren Hall (16) look on before the game against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

From last season, the 2023 fifth-rounder Jaren Hall returns. He was asked to start two games but got hurt against Atlanta and was overwhelmed by Green Bay’s defense. Hall completed 13 of 20 passes for 168 yards and one interception in three quarters. Entering his sophomore season, Hall should be considered a developmental player rather than a potential contributor.

Competition Overview

The vacant starting QB void must be filled. Darnold is the obvious top candidate, as he comes with plenty of starting experience and is signed to be the QB1 early in 2024. At age 29, Mullens is who he is, a gunslinging backup-caliber passer, and overtaking Darnold is a longshot.

A potential monkey wrench in Darnold’s attempt to revive his career is the rookie McCarthy. He is physically gifted and has excelled in high-leverage situations in college. There is a chance he will come in and is immediately outstanding.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) fakes a handoff during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The more likely scenario, however, is that the Vikings will take it slow with their pricey first-year player. Head coach Kevin O’Connell said at the end of OTAs that Darnold is currently at the top of the depth chart: “We haven’t had to put out a depth chart or anything like that, but I would say Sam would be the guy I would look to based on the spring he’s had and, really, where he’s at in his career and his quarterback journey, and what he’s been able to do coming in and [hitting] the ground running and taking advantage of the competitive situation.”

A second competition will take place between Hall and Mullens for the third QB on the roster. Hall must show some improvement compared to last season. Mullens has the advantage of experience, while Hall has more potential. If McCarthy isn’t ready immediately, keeping the veteran as the true backup could make sense.


Darnold will remain at the top of the depth chart. He has a history of looking great in training camp and the preseason. The Vikings hope the surroundings hurt his production in previous seasons, and throwing to the electric receivers in O’Connell’s offense can unleash some potential.

Jan 1, 2024; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws a pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half in the 2024 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

McCarthy shows some flashes but needs more time to feel confident throwing the ball after tweaking some mechanics and learning a new playbook. The preseason exposure and the daily practice against NFL talent will be valuable for his development.

Mullens stays on the roster, perhaps to open the season as the QB2 to give the rookie more time, while the front office tries to stash Hall on the practice squad.

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

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and prefers Classic rock over other genres. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt