Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy throws against East Carolina in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
The way it looks now, the Vikings are headed for a 9-8 or 8-9 season or so that begins in a week against Tampa Bay.
That would make it unlikely Kirk Cousins will return as quarterback in 2024.
The Vikings seemingly would pick somewhere near the middle of next April’s NFL draft. The consensus two top quarterbacks are USC’s Caleb Williams, expected be No. 1 overall, and North Carolina’s Drake Maye, probably to be taken within the top six.
The Vikings won’t draft high enough for either. That probably would leave their options from among Oregon’s Bo Nix, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., Duke’s Riley Leonard, Texas’ Quinn Ewers or Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy with their top pick.
The Vikings also would be expected to sign a relatively inexpensive journeyman as a bridge QB.
>> Myles Gaskin, the veteran running back the Vikings signed last week, is expected to be used mostly as a third-down receiver out of the backfield.
>> The Vikings have sent longtime season ticket holders commemorative footballs as gifts.
>> Mo Ibrahim’s departure after last season has left the Gophers’ running game paltry. Meanwhile, Bucky Irving, who was Minnesota’s all-purpose yardage leader in 2021, is just a junior at Oregon, where he rushed for 1,058 yards last season after transferring from the Gophers. Irving’s name, image and likeness (NIL) valuation is $834,000, per on3.com.
Paige Bueckers’ NIL valuation is $637,000. Center-court lower-level Williams Arena tickets for the Gophers women’s basketball game against the Hopkins grad and Connecticut on Nov. 19 are $519 apiece. For the Gophers’ Nov. 8 game against Long Island University, center-court lower level seats cost $39 apiece.
>> The sold-out (53,629) Gophers-Nebraska game in Minneapolis had the fifth-highest secondary market ticket price — $159.36 — in the country among college football openers, per Logitix. Florida State-LSU in Orlando, Fla., was No. 1 at $445.22.
>>There were four NFL scouts at the Gophers-Nebraska game specifically to watch Minnesota tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford.
>> Ibrahim, who received a $100,000 free agent signing bonus from the Lions, was waived but goes on the team’s injured reserve list.
Ex-Gophers QB Tanner Morgan, who got a $25,000 free agent signing bonus from the Steelers, was released.
>> Ex-North Dakota State QB Easton Stick is the No. 2 QB for the Chargers. Ex-Gophers QB Chris Streveler was waived from injured reserve by the Jets with an injury settlement.
>> A parking lot four blocks from the Gophers stadium on Thursday charged $50.
>> Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, who’ll miss the Wolverines’ first three games for a recruiting violation, will be on the sidelines for the Oct. 7 against the Gophers in Minneapolis.
>> Minnesota State Open and State Amateur golf champion Caleb VanArragon shot 1-over-par 70-71 and missed the cut by one shot in the PGA Tour Canada tournament this weekend at Craguns in Brainerd. Also missing the cut were Thomas Lehman, son of the touring pro, with 76-69. Blake grad Derek Hitchner, who made his pro debut at the 3M Open last month, went 73-66 and made the cut. Amateur Matt Boldy, the Wild forward, shot 79-80, missing the cut.
>> The Ryder Cup is Sept. 29 near Rome, Italy. Zach Johnson is captain of the USA team. Tom Lehman, the former Gopher from Alexandria, captained the 2006 USA team that lost to Europe at the K Club near Dublin, Ireland.
“I like the USA team and I expect them to win,” Lehman, now 64, said.
“The European team is always going to play well, but the USA team is deeper — we have the most firepower.”
Any advice for Zach Johnson?
“He’s a sharp guy, a quality person — he doesn’t need my help,” Lehman said.
The team Lehman captained in Ireland got beat 18½-9½.
“Got smoked,” Tom said.
>> Those were hockey luminaries Phil Housley, Murray Williamson, Dave Metzen and Art Miller lunching with Lou Nanne at Nanne’s Tavern23 restaurant in Edina on Monday.
Housley, 59, the Hockey Hall of Famer and first-year NY Rangers assistant, is a five-handicap golfer who scored his first hole-in-one at New Richmond Golf Club the other day.
>> Bally Sports next month airs an entertaining second installment of the “Looking Back with Lou” Nanne documentary.
>> Nice trade: An enterprising baseball fan at Target Field the other day was able to acquire future Hall of Fame Ranger Max Scherzer strikeout balls Nos. 3,347, 3,348 and 3,349 in a trade for two Twin Royce Lewis autographed balls and a Pablo Lopez signed ball that fans got from player tosses into the stands and a foul ball. The Twins had a Scherzer strikeout ball for sale in their authentic shop for $250.
>>Devin Fitzgerald, 6-1, 175-pound son of future Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. from Minneapolis, is a starting sophomore wide receiver for Brophy College Prep in Phoenix, Ariz.
>> Terry Steinbach, the former Gopher and Twins catcher from New Ulm, was recently in Oakland, Calif., for pal Carney Lansford’s induction into the A’s Hall of Fame.
Steinbach played 11 seasons for the A’s, including three World Series seasons and 1988 when he was named MVP of the All-Star game.
Steinbach, 61, has mixed feelings about the A’s pending move to Las Vegas.
“What we were told out there is that there’s still a lot of stuff that has to happen,” he said. “They’re going forward, but the 30 owners have to agree on it and there was a buyout or something in there. I’m not 100 percent sure it’s a solid, done deal.
“I think about the era that I played out there — we were selling the place out. It was a beautiful venue, the scenery was great, you could look out to center-field and see Oakland Hills. We had tremendous ownership — the Haas family, Levi Strauss — was 100 percent behind us, and GM Sandy Anderson was getting us players.
“It was a very, very positive experience.”
Now, Steinbach turns on his TV to watch A’s games.
“And you look out there and see 4,000 people,” he said. “Man, what’s going on? So maybe geographically they can’t sustain a club. The (NFL) Raiders left, the Golden State Warriors went over to San Francisco. Two teams have already left, so what is that area telling us, can the Oakland area sustain major league franchises? I don’t have the answer, so yeah, it’s very mixed feelings.”
>> Sibley grad Michael Busch of the Dodgers last week did his best to help the hometown Twins, hitting his first major league home run against Cleveland.
>> The University of St. Thomas men’s basketball team’s recent trip to Italy was financed primarily by a private donor.
>> St. Thomas Academy and Cretin-Derham Hall will continue their 100-year football rivalry on Sept. 15 at the Vikings’ TCO Stadium. Tickets are $12.
>> New St. Thomas Academy president is Brian Ragatz, a football standout at St. Thomas Academy and St. John’s-Collegeville.
Interim president at Cretin-Derham Hall is Teri McCloughan, an attorney and mother of four Cretin-Derham Hall grads.
>> That was Kurt Allison, longtime touring guitarist for country music star Jason Aldean, sporting a St. Cloud State baseball cap at Aldean’s recent concert in Welch. Allison is married to Cold Spring’s Kelly Dolan, sister of St. Cloud State baseball coach Pat Dolan.
>> Among Minnesota’s most worthy sports fundraisers for youngsters is the St. Paul Urban Tennis Ladies Doubles event Sept. 13 at the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis (stpaulurbantennis.org).
>> Ex-Gophers defenseman Brock Faber of the Wild is among 35 prospects-rookies who on Tuesday will attend the NHL Players Association showcase in Arlington, Va., to be photographed for licensed trading cards.
>> Bucket list complete: Denny Nelson Jr., 67, son of noted national boxing referee Denny Sr., scored a hole-in-one the other day at St. Andrews in Scotland, his second career ace. The first for the 13 handicapper from St. Paul was 45 years earlier almost to the day at Keller.
Don’t print that
>> Some player agents try to make contracts they negotiate appear better than they are, especially the guaranteed money. The real guaranteed portion of the announced $68 million, four-year deal T.J. Hockenson signed on Thursday will provide the Vikings tight end with nearly $30 million guaranteed.
If Hockenson, for instance, were to get hurt in next week’s season opener against Tampa Bay and never play another down of football, he would walk away with slightly more than $29 million.
If Hockenson, 26, gets through this season healthy, in March of 2024 his 2025 salary becomes guaranteed. As long as he doesn’t suffer a catastrophic injury between now through 2025, he’ll make $41 million. The contract includes an $18 million signing bonus.
Ostensibility, Hockenson’s contract is $41 million over three years when you throw the fuzzy agent stuff out. The deal is market value, close to what the Vikings offered him in July.
>>People who know say part of the reason the Lions were willing to trade Hockenson to the Vikings is that they figured he would be tough to sign when his rookie contract was up. And part of the motivation for the Vikings trading for him is that tight ends are less expensive than wide receivers, and WR Jordan Addison is on a rookie deal.
>> The Vikings are not eligible to put franchise tags on Kirk Cousins or Danielle Hunter next season, meaning the team will either sign them to an extension after the season or they’re gone.
The only player the Vikings might consider franchise tagging would be defensive end Marcus Davenport if he has a breakout season, say a dozen sacks or so. Davenport, who turns 27 on Monday, has a one-year, $13 million contract.
>> It’s still a good bet that a new contract for Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson is related to a new deal for 49ers defensive end holdout Nick Bosa. Depending on when Bosa’s mega-deal is done, Jefferson could sign a contract soon after. Jefferson’s monster deal, which could approach an average of $30 million a year, could be the nail in the coffin for a return of Cousins, 35, who also has his age working against him.
>> Jefferson, at No. 3 overall, is the only Viking ranked among the top 43 NFL players in measured social media marketability by the league’s players association. Kirk Cousins is No. 44. No other Vikings are among the top 50. Joe Burrow of the Bengals is No. 1; Aaron Rodgers of the Jets No. 26.
>> Forbes is out with its new NFL franchise valuations and has the Vikings at $4.65 billion, an 18 percent increase from a year ago. The Wilfs bought the Vikings for $600 million in 2005.
>> It’s surprising that the Vikings, especially young at cornerback, still haven’t signed a more experienced CB.
>> Pssst: It still looks like Zach Parise, 39, who is owed $15 million from the Wild over the next two years, could soon retire from the Islanders after 18 years in the NHL, then take an assistant job at Edina High.
>> Joining Andre Hollins among a handful of Gophers men’s basketball radio analyst considerations is ex-Gopher Joey King, the Eastview grad.
>> Four preseason All-America men’s basketball teams have been chosen by the Blue Ribbon Yearbook, but without a single Gopher.
>> The Maple Leafs’ signing last week of Auston Matthews, 25, for $13.2 million a season for four years should mean Wild star Kirill Kaprizov, 26, will receive as much or more after his remaining three seasons at $9 million each expires. Kaprizov two years ago turned down an additional three years at $9 apiece so he could become a free agent after the 2025-26 season.
Kaprizov has spent the summer working out in suburban Minneapolis.
>> A planned paratrooper drop by retired U.S. Navy SEALs before the start of the Gophers-Nebraska game was canceled because FOX needed the space for its broadcast cameras.
>> Nebraska lost 13-10 to the Gophers on Thursday without tight end Erik Gilbert, who two days before the game was arrested for burglarizing and vandalizing a liquor and vape shop in Lincoln.
>>Toxic Josh Donaldson, released by the Yankees on Tuesday, when he was with the Twins was threatened by a teammate Donaldson had been heckling that his teeth would be knocked out if he continued.
>> Cost for an autograph by Wisconsin linebacker C.J. Goetz is $112 through the University’s name, image and likeness (NIL) program. For an autograph from basketball shooting guard Connor Essegian, $500.
The Gophers have a relative pittance of NIL money to offer basketball players compared with other Power Five schools.
>> Salaries for players in the upstart Professional Women’s Hockey League (Minnesota likely will play at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild’s practice facility or Ridder Arena) will average $55,000. With longtime American-Canada executive Brian Burke overseeing the union, players are certain to be treated first-class.
>> The Gophers starting offensive line averages 319 pounds. Jack Perkovich, who is from South St. Paul and played offensive guard on Minnesota’s (1960-61) Rose Bowl teams and started as a senior, weighed 215 pounds.
“Things have changed,” Perkovich said.
> Hall of Fame former Twin Bert Blyleven on putting much of his memorabilia up for VSA public auction: “We went through our storage and I have so much stuff. I talked to my kids and we’ve got stuff for them. But a lot of stuff, what do you do with it? As (comedian) George Carlin said, you can have too much stuff. So why not share it?”