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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings countdown to free agency: The quarterbacks

By Matthew Coller

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With the Super Bowl over, the next big NFL date is March 9, when the new league year begins and free agency opens. The Minnesota Vikings are expected to be active in free agency, so as we make our way toward the start of the signing period, we will go position-by-position, analyzing which free agents the Vikings could/should be interested in. We begin with the quarterbacks…

The next backup

Sam Bradford will be under center on opening day next September, but the Vikings are likely to look into backup options with Teddy Bridgewater’s status unclear. Undrafted rookie Taylor Heinicke was hurt during training camp and did not see many reps in practice when he recovered. He may get a chance to earn a spot, but the Vikings are likely to be in the market for a veteran option if Shaun Hill either retires or if they look in a different direction. Here are the most likely possibilities for the Vikings’ backup gig:

Case Keenum, Los Angeles Rams

Career stats (via Football Reference)

Pressed into starting duty with the Rams after No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff struggled in training camp and preseason, Keenum went 4-5 as a starter before Los Angeles turned the keys over to Goff.

Oct 2, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) warms up prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Case Keenum wasn’t a good starter, but could be a solid backup. Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Lacking in size (6-foot-1) and arm strength, the former Houston quarterback had an especially difficult time using the middle of the field and throwing intermediate routes as he averaged just 4.2 Yards Per Attempt on throws in the middle and and a 65.5 QB rating on throws between 1-10 yards. He’s not a starter by any means, but a 7-7 record with the Rams over two years as a backup suggests he could step in and play .500 as opposed to completely sinking the ship.

Matthew McGloin, Oakland Raiders

Career stats:

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Back in 2013, the former Penn State QB started six games for the Raiders. He lost five and managed just a 76.1 rating. That stretch ended any shot that he would be Oakland’s eventual starter, but they kept him on as Derek Carr’s backup. In one start after Carr got hurt, McGloin played very poorly, averaging 3.3 yards per attempt before going down with an injury. He would not qualify as a quarterback that could be trusted in spot duty.

EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills

Career stats:

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When the Bills selected the former Florida State signal caller in the first round, many draftniks bristled, questioning his accuracy. Well, they were right. Manuel got benched in his second season in favor of Kyle Orton and never got his starting job back, losing out a QB competition to Tyrod Taylor in 2015. When he did get chances to start in place of Taylor, he was putrid, going 0-3 with a 73.7 rating. The Vikings shouldn’t be in the business of taking long shots on bust first-rounders.

Mark Sanchez, Dallas Cowboys

Career stats:

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While he once led the New York Jets (the term “led” being used lightly) to back-to-back AFC championship games, Sanchez has become a career backup after losing out to Trevor Siemian for the starting Denver Broncos job.

Oct 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Mark Sanchez (3) warms up prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

He joined the Dallas Cowboys to hold a clipboard for Dak Prescott and now will be looking for his next backup gig. In 2014 and 2015 he was the backup QB under offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur in Philadelphia and performed fairly well, going 4-6, averaging 7.6 yards per attempt and posting an 86.6 rating. Sanchez should be considered a strong candidate for the Vikings’ backup gig.

Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco 49ers

Career stats:

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Chip Kelly’s experiment with starting Gabbert ended with the former top pick of the Jaguars being benched for Colin Kaepernick after going 1-4 as a starter. Gabbert has the size and athleticism of an NFL quarterback but he is so poor with decision making and accuracy that any chance of being a starter somewhere is gone. With the 49ers, he finished with similar numbers to many of the other backups – a 60.6% completion percentage and 80.2 rating. That might be enough to draw some interest from Minnesota.

Brian Hoyer, Chicago Bears

Career stats:

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You would be hard-pressed to find a better backup quarterback in the NFL than Hoyer, who has started 14 games in the last two years and thrown 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, good for a 93.7 rating. Pro Football Focus rated his five starts with the Bears an 80.5, which would have put him in Andy Dalton territory over a full season. Hoyer has proven that he isn’t good enough to take a team very far as a full-time starter, but in fill-in duty, he could be competent at worst and quite good at best. Price might be the only major drawback as Hoyer will want to be paid at the top end of the backup QB spectrum.

Matt Schaub, Atlanta Falcons

Career stats:

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Over about a five-year span, Schaub was a very good starter with the Houston Texans, winning 40 of 69 starts and posting a 94.0 rating between 2008-2012. But in 2013 his performance dropped off severely and he has bounced around as a backup from Oakland to Baltimore to Atlanta. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the 49ers are interested in having him under new head coach Kyle Shanahan. Since becoming a backup, Schaub has just a 65.3 rating, making him a pretty undesirable candidate for the Vikings.

Geno Smith, New York Jets

Career stats:

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Once upon a time, Smith showed potential to be the Jets’ franchise quarterback, but a punch to the face from a teammate took away his last run at it in New York. Smith has a strange game log, posting a QB rating higher than 130 in three starts, but also lower than 30 in six starts. A rebuilding team might want to take a swing to see if he’s learned anything from sitting on the bench, but the Vikings don’t need someone as volatile as Smith.

Ryan Mallett, Baltimore Ravens

Career stats:

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A former Patriots draft pick, Mallett has yet to show that he can even be a reliable backup. He is 6-foot-6 and has a monster arm, but little else to speak of. When he was given a brief chance to start for the Houston Texans, his stint was nothing short of disastrous. There isn’t much reason for the Vikings to consider Mallett based on his brief history in the NFL.

Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Bucs

Career stats:

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After his rookie year, there was some optimism about Glennon’s long-term outlook as the starter in Tampa Bay, but things fell apart and the Bucs drafted Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick. Rebuilding teams might look at Glennon as a potential starting option because of his size and arm strength. In a very limited sample in 2013, he did complete 10-of-19 passes between 20-30 yards for 297 yards and three touchdowns.

Matt Barkley, Chicago Bears

Career stats:

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Given his first chance to start in the NFL, things didn’t exactly go swimmingly for Barkley. While he showed some flashes of competence and managed a decent Yards Per Attempt mark, the former USC quarterback threw it to his opponents far too often. In today’s NFL, 14 interceptions in six starts is unfathomable. Barkley tied for the ninth most interceptions in the league and only threw 216 passes. The Vikings will have tape to study from Week 17 in which they handily beat Barkley and the Bears.

Landry Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers

Career stats:

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In a very small sample, Jones filled in admirably for Ben Roethlisberger, winning two of four starts. A fourth-round pick from Oklahoma, Jones has a limited skill set. Of his 86 throws this season, just 15 went past 10 yards.

Matt Cassel, Tennessee Titans

Career stats:

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A return to the Twin Cities could be in the cards for the Vikings as Cassel fits the game-managing backup mold. Since 2010, Cassel has not been good during any extended stints as a starter, but last year he won the lone start he was given after an injury to Marcus Mariota. With almost no arm strength left and questionable decision making, Cassel isn’t a great choice for backup.

Other free agent QBs:

Kellen Clemens, Dan Orlovsky, Josh Johnson, Christian Ponder, TJ Yates, Thaddeus Lewis, Kellen Moore, Ryan Nassib

The post Vikings countdown to free agency: The quarterbacks appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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