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Thank you for submitting questions for this Vikings mailbag. You can send questions to @Andrew_Krammer on X (formerly Twitter) or Listen for answers to more reader questions on the Access Vikings podcast. Let's get to it.

Q: Was J.J. McCarthy really the quarterback the Vikings wanted or was he just the best available at the time? – Ivan

AK: McCarthy was one of the quarterbacks the Vikings wanted. He was also the fifth passer taken by No. 10 overall, where the Vikings traded up to get him. General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said he had to get "a little bit more aggressive" in his offer to beat another team in negotiations with the New York Jets. Later on, Broncos coach Sean Payton claimed he was "trying to pretend" to trade up to bait the Vikings into paying more; the Broncos drafted Oregon quarterback Bo Nix at No. 12.

The Vikings tried to trade up to the No. 3 pick, where the New England Patriots eventually kept the selection and drafted North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye. According to ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss, the Vikings offered three first-round picks between No. 11, No. 23 and the 2025 first-round pick for No. 3 and "two mid-round" picks. The package would've almost certainly been for Maye, who is 6-4 with a rocket arm and mobility. Maye had been a favorite in Vikings headquarters since his standout 2022 season at UNC, and then the team hired one of his former high school coaches, Josh McCown, as quarterbacks coach in February.

Adofo-Mensah said he understood why teams didn't trade back because of the "opportunity cost" in a 2024 NFL draft loaded with elite talent.

When asked if McCarthy was atop their rankings, Adofo-Mensah evaded the pressure in the pocket.

"That question is tough," Adofo-Mensah said. "What I can tell you is that he was somebody whose skill set we are really excited about [and] we know we can build around and win with. Somebody you're talking about from a talent standpoint is as talented as anybody in the draft."

McCarthy is "a bit of an unknown," Adofo-Mensah said, because he threw the fewest passes per game — 22 — of the six first-round QBs last season. But they believe McCarthy, also the youngest first-round QB at 21 years old, has all the talent required to succeed under coach Kevin O'Connell, a former quarterback.

"We have the environment to foster him," Adofo-Mensah said. "[Coaches] have got a plan for him down to the day working on specific things. We're not going to rush his development."

Q: Is the Vikings' lack of 2025 draft picks less of a concern due to the free agent money they will have? – Jay

AK: The Vikings currently have three 2025 draft picks: a first and two fifths. Minnesota holds an extra fifth-round pick from the Cleveland Browns, where the Vikings' sixth- and seventh-round picks were sent in the Za'Darius Smith trade last year. The Vikings' second-, third- and fourth-round picks next year were essentially packaged together for edge rusher Dallas Turner. Adofo-Mensah sent the second-round pick to Houston in a package for No. 23 overall. He then traded up to No. 17 with the Jaguars, sending the third- and fourth-round picks.

The good news: The Vikings are projected to get a 2025 third-round compensatory pick for losing quarterback Kirk Cousins to the Falcons. That won't happen until next spring.

As you mentioned, the Vikings will be better positioned to spend on veterans. Adofo-Mensah has talked about resetting the team's salary cap after inheriting an aging and expensive roster. They are projected to have over $85 million in 2025 cap space, per, however that's a projection because next year's salary cap has not been set, and the Vikings want to extend receiver Justin Jefferson, who is not yet under contract in 2025.

Q: What are your thoughts on what a possible penalty for Atlanta tampering with Kirk Cousins might entail next year? – Tom

AK: Whatever the punishment, I don't believe it will directly impact the Vikings beyond possibly moving up a draft spot because the Falcons had to forfeit a pick or two. NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy confirmed that the league's investigation is ongoing. There is precedent to believe a punishment would solely impact the Falcons, like how the Dolphins forfeited multiple draft picks after the league found they tampered with quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Sean Payton. There seems to be a misconception that the Vikings could swap picks because that's what the Cardinals and Eagles did for a tampering case over Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon. However, the Cardinals self-reported the violation and the two teams worked out a resolution. In this case, Cousins indicated at a news conference that he'd communicated with Falcons officials before it was allowed.

Q: Why do they continue to ignore the interior offensive line? – Stan

Q: Will they bring Dalton Risner back? – Sheila

AK: The Vikings did not move to bring back Risner, who started 11 games last season after signing in September. But that doesn't mean they won't after seeing how the left guard spot shakes out this summer. The most experienced options are currently Blake Brandel and Dan Feeney. Outside of using a second-round pick on right guard Ed Ingram in 2022, this Vikings regime has not allocated big resources to the interior O-line. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah once opined that a Rams system (like O'Connell's) "is not going to be as offensive line-dependent as maybe some other teams."

Q: What is the position where the Vikings have the most strength? Even wide receiver it feels we are short a WR3? – Andy

Q: Who's the favorite to win the WR3 job? – Aaron

AK: I'd start with receiver and tight end. The Vikings' top two options at both between receivers Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, and tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Josh Oliver, are as versatile and dynamic as any other top duos in the league. Losing K.J. Osborn in free agency might force O'Connell to be less dependent on three-receiver sets, which is the Rams' bread and butter under Sean McVay. But the Vikings did sign journeyman Trent Sherfield to a one-year deal. They also re-signed Brandon Powell and maintain hope for Jalen Nailor to take a next step. I'd handicap Sherfield as the favorite for WR3 before the race starts. But with running back Aaron Jones in the fold, it will be enticing to run the ball with fullback C.J. Ham and multiple tight ends.