Vikings’ Sam Darnold Sets The Record Straight On Mentoring J.J. McCarthy

JJ McCarthy, Sam Darnold, Minnesota Vikings
NFL Analysis Network

The Minnesota Vikings signed quarterback Sam Darnold in free agency, but they also selected J.J. McCarthy with the 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Obviously, they do not view Darnold as their quarterback of the future. That title belongs to McCarthy.

However, Darnold stands a pretty good chance to begin the season as the starter, so he definitely has a shot to get some playing time in 2024.

The former No. 3 overall pick is also tasked with the responsibility of mentoring McCarthy, which may seem odd considering it wasn’t long ago that he needed a mentor himself.

Darnold understands that this is the nature of the sport.

“It’s just how it goes, right?” Darnold said, via Andrew Krammer of The Star Tribune. “There’s a lot of businesses where you can be in your business for 30-40 years, and the NFL I think the average is like 3-4 years. It’s a little bit different. Going into my seventh year now, even though I still am young, I do feel like a vet and just being able to help guys — not only J.J., but help any young guys in the locker room that need anything, I’m always happy to help.”

The 26-year-old began his career with the New York Jets back in 2018, and like McCarthy now, he was expected to be the face of the franchise.

Unfortunately, things didn’t really materialize for Darnold.

He spent three largely unsuccessful seasons with the Jets, with his best year coming in 2019 when he threw for 3,024 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 13 starts.

The USC product was traded to the Carolina Panthers in April 2021, but in 17 starts over two years with the Panthers, he totaled 16 touchdowns and 16 picks.

Darnold then signed with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency last spring and spent 2023 as Brock Purdy’s backup.

Expectations are obviously very different for Darnold now. He may never get a chance to be a regular starter in the NFL again, and now, he may just have to settle for being a capable backup.

There is nothing wrong with that, as plenty of quarterbacks have made a rather successful career as reserves. But it must be difficult to go from being the third overall pick to having to mentor another player.

Fortunately, Sam Darnold is maintaining a good attitude about the whole situation, and it looks like he will be just the help J.J. McCarthy needs.

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