Vikings believe QB Sam Darnold has ‘Untapped Potential’

The Minnesota Vikings are shaping up to be one of the most intriguing teams to watch heading into the 2024 season. While rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy is in the mix, it’s former first-round pick Sam Darnold who is likely to start in Week 1 against the New York Giants.

Starting Darnold in the opener is a fascinating choice. Drafted third overall by the New York Jets in 2018, Darnold’s career has been plagued by poor circumstances and lackluster surroundings. Despite his talent, he hasn’t had the supportive environment necessary to thrive—until now. Last season, he served as a backup to Brock Purdy on the Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco 49ers, giving him a taste of what a solid team environment looks like.


Now in Minnesota, Darnold finds himself with the best supporting cast he’s ever had, including star players at all skill positions and strong offensive tackles. This setup could finally give him the chance to showcase his potential.

The Vikings didn’t sign Darnold merely as a placeholder; they genuinely believe he has untapped potential. As ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler explained on SportsCenter, the Vikings are confident that Darnold can not only start games but also thrive with the right support. The plan is to have McCarthy sit out for an unspecified number of games, possibly a full season, to learn the high-volume passing system from behind the scenes. This strategy could be beneficial for McCarthy’s development.

This situation draws parallels to the San Diego Chargers’ dilemma in 2004 when Drew Brees had a breakout year after the team drafted Eli Manning and traded for Philip Rivers. It’s a quarterback conundrum that, if handled well, could be a “Champagne problem” for the Vikings.

There’s a realistic scenario where Darnold excels in this system, which could make the Vikings a surprise contender in 2024. With Darnold performing well, the Vikings might not only make the playoffs but also have a shot at winning the NFC North.

The potential for Darnold to succeed with a strong team around him, coupled with McCarthy’s development, sets up the Vikings for a season filled with promise and high expectations.