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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: If Bradford isn’t the answer, Vikings’ future doesn’t look all that bright

By Judd Zulgad

Sam Bradford established an NFL single-season record in 2016 by completing 71.6 passes in his first year with the Vikings. But Bradford’s ability to find open receivers hasn’t left many clamoring for the Vikings to extend the quarterback’s contract beyond the $18 million he will be owed in the final season of his deal in 2017.

This comes after the Vikings got off to a 5-0 start this season with Bradford taking over as the starter in Week 2. The hot start was followed by a tailspin that doomed the Vikings to an 8-8 finish. Bradford went from being praised to being considered too conservative and not the answer.

Bradford, the top-overall pick in the 2010 draft by the St. Louis Rams, undoubtedly would welcome a multi-year contract extension this offseason. To no one’s surprise, general manager Rick Spielman did not tip his hand on his plans during a pre-combine meeting with the media on Thursday.

Spielman did say Bradford is in “the prime of his career” and added that given another chance he would pull the trigger in a “mini-second” on the trade he made just before the season that sent a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick to Philadelphia for the veteran.

The trade was made necessary after starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated left knee, as well as a torn ACL and other torn ligaments, during a preseason practice at Winter Park.

This was no normal injury. This was a catastrophic knee injury that required Bridgewater to be transported to the hospital in an ambulance and put his football future in jeopardy. That was the case the moment Bridgewater crumpled to the turf at Winter Park and remains the case now.

I don’t mean to spoil your day if you’re a Vikings fan, but you had better hope that Bradford is the answer. If he’s not a team that a year ago was considered a favorite to compete in the NFC is going to have to deal with a familiar problem that is the difference between being a contender and a potential also-ran.

Spielman rarely divulges any useful information in interviews, but it was pretty easy to determine that the Vikings have no idea when or if the second of their two 2014 first-round draft picks will return.

Six months after his knee gave out, despite the fact there was no contract, Bridgewater is doing no football-related activities and Spielman is saying less-than-assuring things such as “Teddy is attacking his rehab as diligently as he can,” and “I know he’s doing specific things in rehab to get him back to being functional.”

That doesn’t sound like a GM who expects to see Bridgewater take the field in 2017.

Bridgewater was supposed to be the guy to finally end Spielman’s run of having no luck in finding someone to play the most important position on his team. Spielman joined the Vikings in 2006 as vice president of player personnel and was promoted to GM after the 2011 season.

Since Spielman’s arrival in Minnesota, the Vikings have had 14 quarterbacks make starts, including Brad Johnson, Tarvaris Jackson, Kelly Holcomb, Brooks Bollinger, Gus Frerotte, Brett Favre, Joe Webb, Christian Ponder, Donovan McNabb, Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman, Bridgewater, Bradford and Shaun Hill.

If you want to blame former coach Brad Childress for the QB issues from 2006 through 2010, then Spielman is responsible for Ponder, McNabb, Cassel, Freeman, Bridgewater, Bradford and Hill. Hill’s start comes with an asterisk because it was only the 2016 opener and came because Bradford was not ready to start a few days after being acquired. Nonetheless, the first four names on that list are draft picks or acquisitions that Spielman would like to forget.

The Vikings have built a formidable defense under coach Mike Zimmer, but that’s not going to matter if the team doesn’t have a quarterback who can be considered more than competent. The Vikings were banking on Bridgewater being that QB for years to come and now he’s left trying to get back to simply being functional.

That means Bradford, now with his third team and set to turn 30 next November, is the Vikings’ best hope to be the quarterback of the future. If you don’t think Bradford can be that guy, that means the Vikings’ immediate future looks pretty bleak.

The post Zulgad: If Bradford isn’t the answer, Vikings’ future doesn’t look all that bright appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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