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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Alex Smith belongs at the top of the Vikings’ list of options at QB

By Matthew Coller

By the end of the 2015, the Minnesota Vikings felt they had their franchise quarterback in place with Teddy Bridgewater.

But a severe knee injury sent the team into panic mode prior to the 2016 season. Normally losing a franchise QB is a death sentence, but the Vikings managed to go 21-11 under Sam Bradford and Case Keenum. The two QBs combined for 55 touchdowns and 13 interceptions between ’16 and ’17.

Now all three are free agents and there’s a chance that Bridgewater, Keenum and Bradford could all be wearing different uniforms next season.

The Vikings might prefer to bring one of them back, but there are questions about all three. Both Bridgewater and Bradford have concerns over their health and Keenum may be seen as a one-hit wonder.

If the Vikings don’t plan on signing Bridgewater, Bradford or Keenum, the next best option is Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.

Last year, the Chiefs traded up in the draft to select Patrick Mahomes, who they will likely start in 2018. That leaves the 34-year-old veteran QB on the trading block.

And from a recent ESPN piece, it doesn’t appear the price will be too high.

“When you look around the league, there are only about five or six landing spots and you have to realize some of those will be taken by draft picks,” former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik told ESPN. “There are three or four quarterbacks that a lot of people feel are first-round guys. That cuts into the chairs at the table and [Washington’s] Kirk Cousins is going to get a seat at somebody’s table.

“So you’re talking about maybe two or three real possibilities at the most, and at that point, what leverage do the Chiefs have?”

For years we have looked at Smith as the definition of a limited, mid-pack quarterback, but this year he led the NFL in passer rating and completed 27-for-56 with 11 touchdowns, zero interceptions on throws over 20 yards.

For context, Keenum went 11-for-41 on throws over 20 yards.

Smith ranked among the best in the NFL in a number of Pro Football Focus’s “advanced” metrics.

Smith’s deep passing was “big-time” throws were certainly higher this year than in the past, but this was hardly his first strong season. Over the past five years, the former No. 1 overall pick has the third most wins, third lowest interception percentage and the seventh highest quarterback rating in the NFL.

Smith has come up short in the playoffs, winning just twice in seven postseason games. But in those seven games, he’s thrown 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions. In 2013, he led the Chiefs to 44 points against the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, the Colts scored 45. His playoff losses have come to Eli Manning, Luck, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Marcus Mariota. And it took a defensive meltdown by Kansas City to allow Tennessee to win this year.

Here are Smith’s playoff totals:

Smith’s contract is extremely favorable for the Vikings, especially if they want to draft a quarterback. He will carry a cap hit of $20.6 million in 2018, then hit free agency in 2019.

The Vikings’ trajectory as a franchise should put them squarely in the mode of looking for the best 2018 quarterback they can find rather than thinking long term.

If they believe that is Keenum, Bradford or Bridgewater, it’s very possible one will be back. If not, Smith’s name should be at the top of the list.

The post Alex Smith belongs at the top of the Vikings’ list of options at QB appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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