Former Vikings GM predicts when J.J. McCarthy could start in 2024

Minnesota Vikings QB J.J. McCarthy
Minnesota Vikings QB J.J. McCarthy / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages

Unless things dramatically change during this summer's training camp and preseason, quarterback J.J. McCarthy is likely going to begin his rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings on the sidelines.

Sam Darnold was unofficially declared the Vikings' QB1 after the team's OTAs concluded earlier this month, and the expectation is that he will hold onto that job through the summer.

But even if Darnold begins the 2024 season as Minnesota's starter, it doesn't mean that we won't see McCarthy out on the field at some point during his rookie campaign.

Former Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman shares when J.J. McCarthy might make his first NFL start in 2024

Everyone has an opinion on when McCarthy should start for the Vikings next season, and there are even some who believe he could benefit from sitting out the entire year.

Former Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman has joined the party, as he weighed in on the topic during a recent episode of the "With the First Pick" podcast. Spielman mentioned how the first few weeks of the Vikings' schedule seems to be pretty tough and that could play a part in his former team deciding when to play their rookie quarterback.

Eventually, the former Minnesota general manager shared when he thinks we might see McCarthy make his first start with the Vikings next season.

"Coming out of [their] bye and when Detroit comes into U.S. Bank Stadium [in Week 7], that's going to be, probably, the most opportune time to start J.J. McCarthy, unless Sam Darnold is playing like Baker Mayfield did last year and [the Vikings are] in the hunt."

That Week 7 home matchup against the Detroit Lions is one that many have pointed to as an ideal time for McCarthy to make his first start under center with Minnesota.

With the Vikings having their bye in the previous week, the rookie would have an extra week to prepare for the matchup with the Lions. But Minnesota also has a road game against the Los Angeles Rams just four days after facing Detroit. So, is Week 7 really the best spot for the Vikings to start McCarthy?

Week 9 at home against the Indianapolis Colts might actually be the best time for Minnesota to give their top 2024 draft pick his first start in the NFL. McCarthy would still have extra time to prepare since the previous week's game against the Rams will be played on a Thursday, and a non-divisional matchup might be a better way for the Vikings to ease the first-year signal-caller into their offense.

But as Spielman mentioned, Darnold could also be playing well enough that Minnesota doesn't want to bench him in favor of McCarthy. If this is the case, then we might not see the rookie make his first start in a Vikings uniform until the 2025 season.

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