Vikings To Sign QB Sam Darnold

11:37am: Although the Broncos monitored Darnold’s market, 9News’ Mike Klis indicates the team did not make an offer. Darnold’s asking price landing in the $10MM-per-year neighborhood looks to have moved the Broncos out of the mix. Despite the team having only Jarrett Stidham in place post-Russell Wilson, it passed on making this a true bidding war.

12:12am: Competing against multiple other suitors, the Vikings will bring in their preferred Kirk Cousins fallback option. Sam Darnold has joined DaQuan Jones in making a wee-hours call on his 2024 NFL team.

Darnold will rejoin his former teammate — new Vikings QBs coach Josh McCown — in Minnesota, with’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reporting the recent 49ers back will sign a one-year deal worth $10MM. The Vikings appear to have beaten out the Broncos and Commanders for the former No. 3 overall pick.

[RELATED: Falcons To Give Kirk Cousins $180MM Deal]

This will bring what looks to be a clear-cut starter opportunity for Darnold, who has not gone into a season as a starter since 2021 with the Panthers. With Cousins’ Atlanta departure set to bring $28.5MM in dead money due to the void years Minnesota tacked onto their previous starter’s deal, Darnold at a significantly reduced rate will help the Vikings pick up the pieces.

Darnold, 26, emerged on the Vikings’ radar minutes after Cousins chose to leave. The team had made its pitch to its six-year starter up until Sunday night, but the 35-year-old passer will camp in Georgia on a $45MM-per-year accord. Cousins certainly is a more stable option compared to Darnold, who could not stick as the Jets or Panthers’ starter. But the Vikings will not be devoting anything close to their QB spot compared to the past six seasons. The Cousins era taxed the Vikings, who were battling uphill in negotiations since giving the ex-Washington franchise tag recipient a fully guaranteed deal in 2018.

With the salary cap ballooning to $55.4MM, the Vikings will need to give Darnold more than the Buccaneers handed Baker Mayfield in the wake of Tom Brady‘s void years-generated bill hitting their books last year. Mayfield collected some incentives but signed for just $4MM in base value last year. Darnold has not reached the heights Mayfield did merely in Cleveland, and the USC alum has made 56 career starts. But an argument can also be made — even after six seasons — the former top prospect landed in two bad situations as a starter.

The Jets chose to ship Darnold out after three seasons, which came under Todd Bowles and Adam Gase and with clear issues on the offensive line and at the pass-catching positions. And the Panthers acquired Darnold — for three draft picks, including a second-rounder — during an unstable period in which Matt Rhule was ready to move on from the trade pickup by his second season. Mayfield then replaced Darnold as Carolina’s starter, and while the latter recaptured his job, the Panthers were on the verge of another regime change. Darnold has a career 63-56 TD-INT ratio and has averaged just 6.7 yards per pass as a pro. In his most recent season with enough usage to qualify (2021), Darnold ranked 29th in QBR.

The Vikings will give Darnold a Justin JeffersonT.J. HockensonJordan Addison trio to target, and while the former Trojans standout will probably never live up to his draft slot, Kevin O’Connell‘s offense looks like his best opportunity to show he can be a decent starter. Of course, the Vikings will certainly be connected to QBs in the draft; they hold the No. 11 overall pick. But Darnold would be in place as the bridge in that circumstance. He could also buy the NFC North team time if a trade-up maneuver proves elusive come April.

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