Vikings Make Final Call on $16 Million Starter’s Future

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota Vikings

Getty General manager Kwesi Adolfo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

With the 2024 NFL Draft in the rearview, The Minnesota Vikings did not waste time tending to an upcoming contract decision — exercising starting left tackle Christian Darrisaw‘s fifth-year option.

The 23rd overall pick in 2021, Darrisaw has started 39 of 41 games played in Minnesota, including a career-high 15 starts last season.

Darrisaw recorded the third-highest pass-block grade (85.3) among all offensive linemen who played at least 50 percent of offensive snaps during the 2023 season, per Pro Football Focus (PFF).

The 24-year-old tackle entered the 2023 season ranked the 15th-best player under 25 years old by PFF and ranked among the top-five tackles in the league. He finished the 2022 season with the second-highest blocking grade (90.4) by PFF, trailing only future Hall of Famer Trent Williams of the San Francisco 49ers.

Darrisaw has modeled his play after Williams, whom he idolized growing up in the Washington D.C. area, where Williams played his first nine seasons in the league and earned seven consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.

Darrisaw has yet to earn a Pro Bowl, but that works to the Vikings’ benefit. Darrisaw’s fifth-year option in 2025 will cost $16 million against the cap instead of roughly $20 million if he made a Pro Bowl in the early stages of his career.

The Vikings will have Darrisaw on an affordable deal for two more years before he is projected to command a contract in the ballpark of $25 million a year.

Darrisaw Overlooked Led to Vikings O-line’s Transformation

Christian Darrisaw, Minnesota Vikings

GettyChristian Darrisaw #71 of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings struck gold when they traded back from the No. 14 pick and still landed their tackle of choice in Darrisaw 23rd overall.

He was the fifth left tackle taken despite an impressive collegiate career. A lingering core muscle injury hampered his first season before he took the starting reins in Week 6 of the 2021 season. He gave up 22 pressures in 10 starts but came along toward the end of the season, posting three straight zero-sack performances to close the year.

The new Vikings regime touted Darrisaw throughout their first offseason in 2022, likening him to Williams. The comparisons became concrete during joint practices with the 49ers in training camp.

“I love C.D.,’’ Williams said of Darrisaw, per the Pioneer Press. “He’s a great kid. He’s open and willing to learning. He’s physically gifted. … I do see a lot of myself in him, especially the young Trent.”

Since that training camp, the Vikings offensive line rose to an above-average unit, ranking in the top 15 for the first time since the 2017 season.

Last season, the Vikings finished with the third-highest pass-block win rate (66%) by ESPN.

Justin Jefferson, Darrisaw Are Why the Vikings’ Future is Bright for J.J. McCarthy

J.J. McCarthy, Denver Broncos

GettyJJ McCarthy #QB05 of the Michigan Wolverines.

Months of speculation over which quarterbacks the Vikings would land in the draft ended when the team selected J.J. McCarthy 10th overall.

McCarthy is the biggest unknown of this year’s quarterback class. He is the youngest quarterback taken in this year’s draft at just 21 years old. He also has the least amount of playing time of any first-round QB.

McCarthy is going to attack the learning curve of the NFL, but it’s going to take time.

However, having pieces like Justin Jefferson and Darrisaw for the foreseeable future offers the best situation for McCarthy to develop in.

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