Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy misses the trophy to celebrate 34-13 win over Washington at the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Vikings make first trade of draft to take QB J.J. McCarthy

Rather than wait one more pick and risk another team jumping them in the order, the Minnesota Vikings moved up from No. 11 to No. 10 in the NFL draft to take Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy on Thursday night in Detroit.

The Vikings made the first trade of the draft by swapping spots with the New York Jets. Minnesota sent New York a fourth-rounder (No. 129 overall) and a fifth-rounder (No. 157) while receiving a sixth-rounder (No. 203) from the Jets in the deal.

McCarthy was the fifth quarterback off the board, following Caleb Williams (Chicago), Jayden Daniels (Washington), Drake Maye (New England) and Michael Penix Jr. (Atlanta) at Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 8. Moments later, the Denver Broncos took Oregon quarterback Bo Nix at No. 12 for an unprecedented glut of QBs in the first 12 picks.

McCarthy helped guide Michigan to a national championship in 2023 by passing for 2,991 yards, 22 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He added three touchdowns on the ground.

The Vikings bade farewell to Kirk Cousins this offseason and entered the draft with Sam Darnold, Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall on the QB depth chart.

With the 11th pick, the Jets drafted Penn State offensive tackle Olu Fashanu.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) hands the ball off to running back Alexander Mattison (2) during the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Vikings to release RB Alexander Mattison

The Minnesota Vikings informed running back Alexander Mattison that they will release him, multiple reports said Thursday.

Mattison signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the Vikings last spring. He was due to carry a $4.6 million cap hit in 2024.

He was a third-round draft pick by the team in 2019, and after four seasons as a sidekick and occasional substitute for Dalvin Cook, Mattison was given the starting job in 2023 after Cook was released.

Mattison set career highs in attempts (180) and yards (700) but failed to record a rushing touchdown and lost the starting role to Ty Chandler in December. Mattison also had 30 receptions for 192 yards and three touchdowns.

In 75 games (19 starts) over five seasons with the Vikings, Mattison, 25, rushed 584 times for 2,370 yards and 11 touchdowns. He added 100 catches for 718 yards and six scores.

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) looks at the big screen during second half of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings won’t trade Justin Jefferson; new deal was ‘close’ last year

INDIANAPOLIS — Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has no interest in trading star wide receiver Justin Jefferson.

“That is not something that once crossed my mind,” Adofo-Mensah told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday. “You’ve got a blue(-chip) player, a blue(-chip) person. You try and keep as many of those as you can.”

Jefferson, the NFL Offensive Player of the Year two seasons ago, had his 2023 season interrupted by a hamstring injury but still finished with 68 receptions for 1,074 yards and five touchdowns. He’s entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract.

Adofo-Mensah told reporters the Vikings got “unbelievably close” to an extension agreement with Jefferson last spring, but that those deals don’t tend to get done after a player’s third year because of the uncertainty on both ends.

According to the GM, the Vikings believe Jefferson should be among the highest-paid players in the league.

“We’ve said it, and we continue to say, we think he’s the best receiver in the league and should be compensated as such,” Adofo-Mensah said. “We think he’s one of the best non-quarterbacks in the league, and should be compensated as such. So we’ll continue to have those dialogues and those conversations.

“I promised (Jefferson and his camp), and I will continue to promise them, I will not talk about our negotiations. I think the job should be done with integrity. So a lot of stuff that I hear is completely false, but I can’t get up here and tell you what’s not true or not false, because that’s not that’s not how I promised them I would operate.”

The “completely false” stuff, as it turns out, includes considering a trade.

“We’re excited to have him and continue those conversations because he’s somebody we want around for a long time,” Adofo-Mensah said.

Among the question marks involved in Jefferson’s decision is who will be throwing him the ball long-term. Kirk Cousins, who will turn 36 before the start of the new season, will have his contract void March 13 unless the Vikings reach an extension with him.

Complicating matters, Cousins ruptured his right Achilles in late October and is in the middle of rehabbing the first major injury of his NFL career. He posted a video to social media Monday showing him backpedaling and throwing on an indoor tennis court.

“You know Kirk, obviously again, another person we’ve had these dialogues the past couple of seasons, had a great conversation with him a few days ago,” Adofo-Mensah said. “Same thing, though, with the other day. It’s, we have our interests. He has his. We’ll get to the table to see if we can figure out a creative solution and kind of meet in the middle. That’s what every contract negotiation is. And that’s what it’ll be with him.”

The GM said Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell has talked with Jefferson about the team’s quarterback situation.

“I think any great player, especially a wide receiver should want to have a great quarterback, who’s accurate and is gonna throw him the football when he’s open,” Adofo-Mensah said. “And he gets open better than anybody else in the league. So that is something that’s important.

“… I think you got to treat players like partners, you got to bring them in and have those conversations with them. And that’s something we’ll do with Justin.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) reacts after missing a field goal attempt against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Late field goal lets Vikings beat Raiders 3-0

Greg Joseph made a 36-yard field goal with 1:57 remaining to lift the Minnesota Vikings to a 3-0 win over the host Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon.

Joseph’s kick proved to be enough for Minnesota (7-6). The Vikings’ defense did the rest, limiting the Raiders to 202 total yards and stuffing 11 of 14 third-down opportunities.

Aidan O’Connell completed 21 of 32 passes for 171 yards and an interception for Las Vegas (5-8). Davante Adams caught seven passes for 53 yards.

Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. intercepted O’Connell with 1:52 remaining to seal the win. Pace finished with 13 tackles and one sack to go along with his first career pick.

Vikings backup quarterback Nick Mullens took over in the fourth quarter and led the drive that created the game’s only points. Mullens completed 9 of 13 passes for 83 yards.

Mullens replaced starter Joshua Dobbs, who was benched after completing 10 of 23 passes for 63 yards. He also rushed five times for 21 yards.

The game was riddled with injuries to starters for both teams.

Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson sustained a chest injury in the first half and did not return. Jefferson was taken to a hospital in the second half for precautionary reasons.

The three-time Pro Bowl wideout was injured while making a 15-yard catch. He leaped and raised both of his arms to grab a high pass from Dobbs, and while his ribs were exposed he absorbed a hard hit from Raiders safety Marcus Epps.

Jefferson finished the game with two catches for 27 yards. It was his first game back after he missed the previous seven games because of a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, Vikings running back Alexander Mattison departed with an ankle injury in the second half. He finished with 10 carries for 66 yards.

Raiders running back Josh Jacobs limped off the field with a right knee injury during the fourth quarter. The fifth-year veteran finished with 13 carries for 34 yards to go along with two receptions for 16 yards.

Vikings right tackle Brian O’Neill also sustained an ankle injury and did not return.

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) warms up before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings WR Justin Jefferson (chest) taken to hospital

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson was taken to a Las Vegas hospital for precautionary reasons after sustaining a chest injury Sunday afternoon against the Raiders.

Jefferson was injured while making a 15-yard catch across the middle. He leaped for a high pass, and while both of his arms were raised, he absorbed a hard hit on the back right side of his ribs from Raiders safety Marcus Epps.

The injury prompted an early exit for Jefferson, who was playing for the first time in eight games. He sustained a right hamstring injury in Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jefferson averaged 135.8 receiving yards per game through his first four games of the season.

The NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2022, he finished the game with two catches for 27 yards.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings WR Justin Jefferson draws closer to return from injury

Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Justin Jefferson is trending toward making his return to the lineup from a hamstring injury this Sunday at Denver.

Jefferson was a limited participant at practice Thursday for the second straight day.

Minnesota opened Jefferson’s 21-day window to return from injured reserve last week. Jefferson, who has not played since Oct. 8, said then that he wouldn’t return to the field until he felt 100 percent, and he underscored that stance in comments Thursday.

“Well, I’m the main person who’s gonna make the decision,” Jefferson told reporters. “At the end of the day, I’m the person that’s going out there running, putting my body on the line to win games.”

Jefferson, 24, suffered the hamstring injury during a Week 5 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He has 36 catches for 571 yards and three TDs this season.

He said he is working on building up his endurance day by day, hoping for minimal soreness in the hamstring as he increases what he does at practice. Jefferson had previously explained that hamstring injuries can linger, “and it comes back from time to time if you don’t put the right treatment into it.”

The Vikings (6-4) have won five straight and are 2-0 since Joshua Dobbs took over at quarterback following injuries to Kirk Cousins and rookie Jaren Hall. They are just 1 1/2 games behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North race.

Coach Kevin O’Connell said Wednesday that his star wideout was in “that day-to-day, ramping-him-up phase,” and the team would determine whether he could be activated in time for the Broncos game.

“I know how I feel. I know how my hamstring is feeling,” Jefferson said. “Of course, we’re going to weigh all the different opinions and what everyone has to say. But at the end of the day, I’m the one that’s going out there and putting my body on the line.”

Dobbs is on the team’s injury report with an ankle issue but practiced in full Wednesday and Thursday. Cornerback Akayleb Evans (calf) missed practice for the second straight day. Tight end T.J. Hockenson (ribs) and running back Alexander Mattison (concussion) were limited.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) scores on a touchdown run as New Orleans Saints cornerback Alontae Taylor (1) look on during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Joshua Dobbs continues to impress as Vikings beat Saints for 5th straight win

Joshua Dobbs passed for one touchdown and rushed for another in his first start with Minnesota, leading the Vikings to a 27-19 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in Minneapolis.

Dobbs had another strong game after being named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance off the bench in producing a come-from behind victory in his Vikings debut a week earlier at Atlanta. On Sunday, he passed for 268 yards and rushed for 44 as Minnesota (6-4) won its fifth consecutive game.

Saints quarterback Derek Carr left the game due to a third-quarter injury. Jameis Winston replaced him and threw two touchdown passes and two interceptions for the Saints (5-5).

Greg Joseph kicked a 33-yard field goal to start the third-quarter scoring and extend Minnesota’s lead to 27-3.

On the ensuing possession, Carr was sacked by the Vikings’ Jonathan Bullard. On the next play, he was hit by defensive linemen Danielle Hunter while completing a pass. Carr suffered a concussion and an injury to his right shoulder, which he also hurt in Week 3.

Winston entered and completed his first three passes. The third was a 14-yard touchdown to Chris Olave and a two-point conversion run by Alvin Kamara pulled New Orleans within 16 points at the end of the third quarter.

Joseph missed a 54-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter and Winston threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to rookie A.T. Perry. Kamara ran for another two-point conversion cutting the lead to 27-19 with 11:40 left.

Winston was intercepted by Mekhi Blackmon at the Vikings 18 with 3:06 remaining and again by Byron Murphy Jr. with 1:49 left. His Hail Mary pass failed as time expired.

The Vikings received the opening kickoff and Dobbs completed his first four passes for 52 yards, leading to Joseph’s 40-yard field goal.

Blake Grupe’s 48-yard field goal tied the score at 3 near the end of the first quarter.

Ty Chandler rushed 2 yards for the game’s first touchdown, giving Minnesota a 10-3 lead.

Dobbs scrambled 7 yards for a touchdown and threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Hockenson to expand the Vikings’ lead to 24-3 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings not playing WR Justin Jefferson until he’s 100 percent

The Minnesota Vikings and Justin Jefferson are waiting until the star wide receiver feels 100 percent before he returns to game action.

Jefferson told reporters Thursday he did not intend to rush back, and the team stands by his desire to treat his injured hamstring with caution.

“The hamstring is a difficult injury just because it lingers and it comes back from time to time if you don’t put the right treatment into it,” Jefferson said in his first comments since his injury.

“The guys and the rest of the coaching staff in this building know my worth on the field and they want me at 100 percent, as I do as well. I don’t want to go out there at 80 or 90 percent and have the chance of hurting it again. It’s just day-to-day, and when that time comes, I’ll definitely be ready to step out there.”

Jefferson returned to practice Wednesday as Minnesota opened the 21-day window for him to return from injured reserve. If he is not added to the active roster in that window, he must remain on IR for the rest of the season.

Jefferson, 24, suffered the hamstring injury during a Week 5 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Vikings are 5-4 despite not having Kirk Cousins, Nick Mullens or rookie Jaren Hall available at quarterback. Recently acquired QB Joshua Dobbs led the Vikings to a comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons last week.

Whether the Vikings remain in the playoff hunt — they’re just 1 1/2 games behind Detroit for the NFC North lead — or tumble out of contention won’t affect Jefferson’s desire to return, he said.

“I’m always going to want to play football, whether we didn’t win a game or if we had won every single game this season,” Jefferson said.

The reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year had 36 receptions for 571 yards and three touchdowns in five games before his injury. He led the league last year in catches (128) and receiving yards (1,809), scoring nine total touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) jumps over Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Kentavius Street (75) during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings plan to start QB Joshua Dobbs vs. Saints

The Vikings are planning to start Joshua Dobbs at quarterback this week against the visiting New Orleans Saints, Minnesota coach Kevin O’Connell told reporters Monday.

Dobbs said rookie quarterback Jaren Hall is in the concussion protocol, along with wide receiver K.J. Osborn. Both players left Sunday’s win against the Atlanta Falcons with head injuries.

Dobbs — acquired five days before the game in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals — replaced Hall on short notice and guided the Vikings to a come-from-behind, 31-28 victory. Dobbs had a 22-yard scramble late in the game to set up the game-winning touchdown pass to Brandon Powell.

O’Connell said Dobbs will take all the first-team reps in practice this week for the Vikings (5-4), who have won four straight heading into Sunday’s game with the visiting Saints (5-4).

The Vikings are already down Kirk Cousins (torn Achilles) and Nick Mullens (back) at the position, in addition to Hall. Mullens could be activated from injured reserve this week, but O’Connell was not sure of his progress.

Dobbs’ season began in Arizona after the Cardinals, who had to start the season without Kyler Murray, acquired him from the Cleveland Browns at the end of training camp. In eight starts for the Cardinals, Dobbs had 1,569 passing yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions on a 62.8 percent completion rate, plus three rushing TDs.

For the Vikings on Sunday, Dobbs went 20-for-30 for 158 yards and two touchdown passes.

O’Connell also confirmed that running back Cam Akers suffered a ruptured Achilles in the game at Atlanta.

Acquired from the Los Angeles Rams early in the season, Akers appeared in six games for Minnesota and rushed 38 times for 138 yards and one touchdown. He added 11 receptions for 70 yards.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Kansas City Chiefs safety Mike Edwards (21) breaks up a pass to Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings WR Justin Jefferson sustains hamstring injury vs. Chiefs

Minnesota Vikings star wideout Justin Jefferson sustained a hamstring injury during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 27-20 loss at home to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jefferson stumbled while running a route in the red zone. He was seen on the sidelines during the late stages of the game but didn’t return to action.

“It’s still very early,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said after the game. “See where he’s at as we move along here and try to diagnose exactly what that injury is and what that timeline looks like.”

Jefferson had three catches for 28 yards for the Vikings (1-4), who could not pick up their second straight win after beating Carolina last week.

It would be a major blow for Minnesota if Jefferson were sidelined for any stretch of time. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year led the league through four weeks with 543 receiving yards.

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce also injured his ankle earlier in the game and missed a chunk of time before returning to catch a touchdown that proved to be the difference in the game.

–Field Level Media