Vikings Quarterback Named Team’s Most Talented Cut Candidate

Nick Mullens, Vikings

Getty Quarterback Nick Mullens of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings added two quarterbacks this offseason, which could leave a player who started multiple games in 2023 on the outside looking in at the 53-man roster come the end of training camp in August.

David Kenyon of Bleacher Report on Sunday, March 19, listed Nick Mullens as the “best player” on Minnesota’s current roster who could find himself cut by the end of the summer.

“If possible, the Vikings would probably like to keep Nick Mullens around for his knowledge,” Kenyon wrote. “The problem is Minnesota signed Sam Darnold in free agency, drafted J.J. McCarthy and still has Jaren Hall — who realistically might not be safe as a hopeful stash on the practice squad. This is very much a Mullens vs. Hall discussion.”

The Vikings’ Plans for J.J. McCarthy Add Layer of Intrigue to Decision on Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall

J.J. McCarthy

Image courtesy of the Minnesota VikingsQuarterback J.J. McCarthy of the Minnesota Vikings.

The decision between Mullens and Hall isn’t a simple one, particularly because of the Vikings’ planned approach to the development of McCarthy — the No. 10 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft — and how that ties into his eventual ascendance to the starting role.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has vowed not to rush McCarthy into the starting job, as he and head coach Kevin O’Connell want to keep their hands “clean” throughout his progress and make sure they don’t contribute to derailing the career of a player they hope will be the franchise QB. And while that’s a logical strategy — even if a little careful, bordering on hesitant — it will create an interesting dilemma if Darnold either gets hurt and/or struggles mightily.

If Minnesota needs to turn elsewhere under center, and McCarthy isn’t prepared to take the reins, Mullens is the logical choice. He has vastly more experience than Hall, with 20 career starts in the league compared to just two for his younger counterpart.

Mullens was also considerably more effective moving the football last season, throwing for 1,306 yards and 7 TDs across three starts and five total appearances. However, he was also 0-3 and proved unable to get the Vikings over the hump in close games against quality opponents, tossing 8 INTs on the year.

Nick Mullens Was More Capable Starter for Vikings Last Season Than Jaren Hall

Nick Mullens, Minnesota Vikings

GettyQuarterback Nick Mullens of the Minnesota Vikings.

After six years in the NFL, Mullens’ identity is pretty clear: he’s a big-armed, quality backup who can keep a good team in games but doesn’t have the ceiling of a long-term starter. Hall’s identity, however, is less obvious.

Hall got a shot to start in Week 9 against the Atlanta Falcons following a season-ending injury to Kirk Cousins. But a concussion knocked him out of that game near the end of the first quarter, after which Josh Dobbs began an improbable run with Minnesota.

Once the Dobbs mania flamed out, O’Connell went with Mullens, who probably would have started over Hall in Week 9 except for the fact that a back injury sidelined him earlier in the year. Mullens was rather prolific as a passer but couldn’t capture any wins, which led the Vikings to turn back to Hall ahead of a must-win contest against the Green Bay Packers in Week 17.

Hall played poorly in that game, connecting on just 5-of-10 pass attempts and throwing an interception before O’Connell pulled him for Mullens. Neither switch ended up mattering, as Minnesota lost in a blowout that put their playoff chances to rest for good.

Vikings Must Weigh Value of Jaren Hall Based on Future Projections as Well as Past Performances

Jaren Hall, Minnesota Vikings

GettyQuarterback Jaren Hall of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings invested a fifth-round pick in Hall in 2023, who is playing on a $4 million rookie deal that keeps him under contract through 2026. Mullens, on the other hand, is entering the final season of a two-year deal worth $4 million total and will hit free agency next March.

Hall is three years younger than Mullens and will cost about half as much in 2024. And, as Kenyon noted, another squad may scoop up Hall up if Minnesota tries to keep him on the practice squad all year.

It doesn’t make sense to give Hall up for nothing, but it doesn’t make sense to punt on Mullens as the more proven backup if the team isn’t willing to push McCarthy into a starting role early should Darnold land on the bench for whatever reason.

The Vikings could attempt to trade Mullens for a late-round pick, as QB needs across the league begin to develop over the summer. That is probably the smartest move from an asset acquisition standpoint.

However, that could also result in Hall holding the reins to a talented offense when Minnesota would prefer any of the other three QBs currently on the roster under center.

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