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Report: Sam Darnold to the Vikings; how good can he be?

Darold, 26, arrives in Minnesota with a fresh chance and a lot of weapons.
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it only took the Vikings about 11 hours to find a replacement for Kirk Cousins. 

Sam Darnold, the 26-year-old former third overall draft pick, has signed a one-year, $10 million deal with Minnesota, according to NFL Network. The Boston Globe's Ben Volin had reported Monday evening that Darnold was weighing offers from the Vikings and Broncos, and around 1 a.m. CT news broke that Darnold had picked the offer from Minnesota. 

Darnold, whose quarterbacks coach in Minnesota, Josh McCown, was his teammate in New York, owns a 21-35 record a starter in six seasons, including three with the Jets, two with the Carolina Panthers and one with the San Francisco 49ers. He's thrown for 63 touchdowns and 56 interceptions. 

Minnesota's QB room now includes Darnold, Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall. 

The first pass Darnold threw in the NFL was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, setting the tone for a rough rookie season with the Jets. But it can't be ignored how inferior the weapons around Darnold in New York and Carolina were compared to what he'll have in Minnesota with Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson and what should be a competent offense line in 2024. 

Dec 17, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.

Dec 17, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.

In 2018, he was throwing passes to Robbie Anderson, Chris Herndon, Jermaine Kearse and Quincy Enunwa. Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded the Jets offense 27th, receivers 28th, running backs 27th and pass blocking 21st. 

In 2019, his weapons in New York were Jamison Crowder, Anderson and the late Demaryius Thomas. PFF graded the Jets offense 25th, receivers 16th, running backs 26th and pass blocking 28th. 

In 2020, Darnold's leading receivers were Crowder and Braxton Berrios. PFF graded the Jets offense 32nd, receivers 30th, running backs 25th, and pass blocking 31st. 

In 2021, Darnold went to Carolina and was throwing passes to D.J. Moore, Anderson (again) and star running back Christian McCaffrey only played in seven games. The Panthers offense was graded 32nd by PFF, receivers were 32nd, running backs were 23rd and pass blocking was 28th. 

In 2022, Darnold took a seat behind Baker Mayfield but started the last six games and went 4-2 with seven touchdown passes and three interceptions. Mayfield got six starts and P.J. Walker started five games for a Panthers offense that again featured Moore, an injured McCaffrey (he played six games all season) and very little at the trio of QBs' disposal. For good measure, the PFF grades were mostly lousy: offense (26th), receivers (28th), running backs (17th), pass blocking (11th). 

Can head coach Kevin O'Connell and McCown unlock Darnold's potential? 

Darnold signing with the Vikings started Day 2 of free agency in the NFL after Day 1 yielded Minnesota deals with edge rushers Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel, and linebacker Blake Cashman. Minnesota is also reportedly in the mix to land now-former Packers running back Aaron Jones.