4 most questionable Vikings decisions during the 2024 offseason

Minnesota Vikings QB Sam Darnold
Minnesota Vikings QB Sam Darnold / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

By most accounts, the Minnesota Vikings had a successful offseason. They added several key players on defense in free agency, found their quarterback of the future in J.J. McCarthy and added an impact talent at edge rusher in the NFL Draft.

But any offseason is going to have its critics, and there are plenty of questions to ask heading into next year.

The Vikings’ roster looks much different than it did a year ago, and we don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. With several new faces, there are a lot of moves to ask questions about, and some of them could decide whether Minnesota returns to the playoffs in 2024.

Most questionable Minnesota Vikings decisions during the 2024 offseason

1. Choosing Sam Darnold as the bridge quarterback

Although the long-term answer to the quarterback position wasn’t going to be known until the NFL Draft, the Vikings still needed to find a stopgap after Kirk Cousins signed with the Atlanta Falcons in free agency. While Jacoby Brissett, Gardner Minshew, and others were available, the Vikings decided to sign Sam Darnold to a one-year, $10 million contract to be the starter going into training camp.

The move irritated Vikings fans who remember Darnold “seeing ghosts” during a "Monday Night Football" game against the New England Patriots in 2019 or remembered his second failed stint as a starter with the Carolina Panthers. But the Vikings seem to be insistent that Darnold can hold down the fort as the lead signal caller until J.J. McCarthy is ready to take over.

McCarthy could start as soon as Week 1, but there’s also a world where he needs more time to develop. While McCarthy will be the starter at some point, it’s fair to wonder if Darnold can give him the time he needs like Jeff George and Randall Cunningham did for Daunte Culpepper in 1999, or if he’ll be more like Donovan McNabb, who lost the starting job in five weeks before ceding to Christian Ponder.

2. Not adding a new No. 3 wide receiver

While turnover at quarterback and running back dominated the headlines this spring, there was another situation brewing at wide receiver. 

Excluding Justin Jefferson’s contract situation, the biggest news at receiver was the departure of K.J. Osborn, who manned the third receiver spot since breaking out during the 2021 season. Osborn never had over 700 yards in a season for Minnesota but he was at least a consistent option that could make plays when called upon.

Looking at the Vikings’ current roster, it’s hard to see that option. Brandon Powell returned, but he’s more of a punt return and gadget option, while Trent Sherfield and Jalen Nailor are also more depth options rather than someone who can be a consistent threat.

This may not matter with Jefferson and Jordan Addison at the top of the depth chart, but the Vikings need to find a way to have someone ready to go – especially with T.J. Hockenson likely to miss the opening weeks of the season with a knee injury.

3. Going with Blake Brandel as the starting left guard

The Vikings temporarily found a solution at guard with the signing of Dalton Risner last season, but with Minnesota showing no interest in bringing him back, they’ve hitched their wagon to Blake Brandel to become the starter.

Brandel spent most of his career as a swing tackle and started to gain experience at guard last season. While Brandel held his own, he played just 163 total snaps, and his career-high came with 275 snaps in a season.

This didn’t stop the Vikings from giving Brandel a three-year contract, however, and all signs are pointing to him opening the year as the starter. With Michael Jurgens the only addition in the draft or free agency, the job is Brandel’s to lose, which could either work for or against the Vikings heading into training camp.

4. No notable additions on the defensive line

The Vikings added just about everything on their defense last season even as Danielle Hunter left to sign with the Houston Texans. But while they added talent at edge rusher, linebacker and cornerback, they seem to forgot about the defensive line.

The Vikings’ defensive line was incognito most of the season, even as Harrison Phillips played 838 snaps, which was a team-high for interior defenders. Dean Lowry, Jonathan Bullard, and Jaquelin Roy didn’t make much of an impact, and the Vikings’ highest-graded interior defender, Khyris Tonga, signed with the Arizona Cardinals in free agency.

The lack of impact from the defensive linemen probably sparked the Vikings’ interest in Byron Murphy II, who was selected one pick ahead of Dallas Turner in last month’s draft. But outside of free-agent signing Jerry Tillery and seventh-round draft pick Levi Drake Rodriguez, the Vikings didn’t have anyone who could make an immediate impact.

This will be another mystery for Brian Flores to solve and could prevent the Vikings' defense from being great next season.

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