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Bleacher Report – Vikings

What is the best (and most likely) possible outcome of the Vikings’ quarterback situation?

By Matthew Coller

Last week, MMQB’s Peter King wrote his potential landing spots for every free agent quarterback. For the Minnesota Vikings, King projected that Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum will both be on the roster when 2018 opens. But that’s far from the only possibility. So let’s have a look at five potential quarterback scenarios for the Vikings…

Teddy Bridgewater-Josh McCown

Nov 19, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Pluses:

If the Vikings make Bridgewater their set-in-stone starter heading into camp, that means they are highly confident in his health. They have more information about his status than any other team or anyone on the outside and have seen him practice from October to the end of the season. Bridgewater would find himself a much better situation than the one he last had in 2015 with two elite receivers, an improved offensive line and a top-notch all-around running back.

McCown played well for the New York Jets last season after winning their starting job in camp. He had similar numbers to Case Keenum with a 94.5 rating and an adjusted completion percentage on deep passes that only trails Drew Brees among free agents. If the Vikings had to turn things over to McCown, they could still remain competitive so long as Mike Zimmer’s defense is elite again. McCown would also be OK with a backup job at age 39 and he has previous experience working with John DeFilippo.

Drawbacks:

While he’s played well at times, it would be a lot to ask McCown to lead the Vikings anywhere if Bridgewater got hurt or struggled mightily. No matter how much the Vikings have seen in practice, it’s difficult to project whether Bridgewater will return to the form of late 2015 and preseason 2016, in which the team believed he would take the next step toward becoming a top-notch QB. There’s a chance the Vikings could end up back at square one.

Why it’s the best outcome: Bridgewater still has a ceiling to reach. He’s already proven that he can win. If he comes back healthy, the Vikings could very well have their QB for the next decade. In the worst case scenario, McCown gives them a chance to compete.

Odds of it happening: Very high

Teddy Bridgewater-Case Keenum

Jan 21, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) warms up before the NFC Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Pluses:

This scenario would mean an old fashioned quarterback competition. Bridgewater would have to prove in the preseason and camp that he is truly back to form despite missing the past two seasons. Likewise Keenum could attempt to prove that his strong 2017 was not a small sample size fluke.

If Bridgewater did win the job, his backup option would be a quarterback who has proven he can take a good team to a division title. If Keenum won the job, the Vikings could trade Bridgewater. And if you think he wouldn’t have interest, the Miami Dolphins reportedly called on Bridgewater last year before he’d even been medically cleared.

Keenum would have a shot to show he is worthy of a long-team deal (assuming he’s franchise tagged) and a full training camp would provide Bridgewater a chance to return to this spot as there Vikings’ franchise quarterback.

Drawbacks:

If Keenum loses the job in camp, he’ll be the highest paid backup in the NFL at around $23 million on the franchise tag and trading him wouldn’t be an option considering the risk involved with Bridgewater’s knee. While $23 million would make most of us happy, Keenum certainly believes his 2017 performance proved him worthy of a starting job somewhere. Last year it was easy for Keenum and Bridgewater to cheer for each other and for the locker room to be (mostly) behind Keenum. This time around, there’s a distinct possibility of friction within the locker room. The Keenum-Bridgewater dynamic would be a storyline and debate all season. If things don’t go perfectly, the noise will be difficult to ignore.

Why it’s the best outcome: It buys the Vikings more time to find out whether Bridgewater is back to 100 percent and/or Keenum can be a franchise QB.

Odds of it happening: High

Kirk Cousins-Kyle Sloter

Nov 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Redskins 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Pluses:

Debates have raged on over whether Cousins is a top tier quarterback or mid-pack, but when Washington had a great supporting cast in 2015, he put up big numbers, leading the NFL in completion percentage and posting a 101.6 rating. Cousins is virtually guaranteed to lock down the position for years to come – which is something the Vikings can’t say for sure about their other QB options. The 30-year-old QB is a high character player who will work incredibly hard to maximize all of his talent.

If the Vikings sign Cousins, they won’t have much to spend on a backup. They clearly like Sloter considering the Vikings released tight end Kyle Carter to make room for Sam Bradford in the playoffs rather than waiving him.

Drawbacks:

Cousins has some frustrating moments. His last three years have included some frustrating moments, including turnovers at big times and disappointing performances at the most important situations. He’s been a mediocre QB on third downs and when down in the fourth quarter, which could be caused by opponents being able to scheme to slow him down. The Vikings are looking at their QB situation through the lens of the Super Bowl. They are not simply trying to be competitive.

Paying out $30 million per season is feisable over the next few years with the Vikings’ cap situation, but it could present challenges down the road. And signing Cousins means there are no takebacks. He’s the face of the franchise whether it works out or not.

Why it’s the best outcome: Cousins provides stability and certainty at the position. He will be good enough to have the Vikings in the mix during their winning window.

Odds of it happening: Unlikely, but possible

Case Keenum-AJ McCarron

Pluses:

If Bridgewater does not stay in Minnesota, the Vikings could keep the quarterback that led them to the NFC Championship game and has a high level of familiarity with the Vikings’ staff and receivers. But with some question marks still around Keenum, McCarron would give him competition in camp and a QB with some potential upside. He only played three regular season games back in 2015, but performed well, posting a 97.5 rating.

Drawbacks:

Regression is a major concern with Keenum. His QB rating before 2017 was 78.5 and two different teams decided to move on from him. If he can’t repeat his success, there is also no guarantee that McCarron is anything more than a backup. He was a fourth-round pick coming out of Alabama and played a very conservative style in the action he received back in ‘15.

Why it’s the best outcome: With the Vikings’ top-notch supporting cast, they would have a decent chance at repeating last year’s results with Keenum. When he played for St. Louis/Los Angeles, he didn’t have much to work with. The Vikings also wouldn’t have to sign onto him long term and would have a potential long-term QB in McCarron.

Odds of it happening: Low

Sam Bradford-Lamar Jackson

Oct 9, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) throws a pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Pluses:

If Bridgewater moves along, the Vikings will need another long-term plan. It’s tough to get a feel on where the NFL ranks Lamar Jackson, The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner from Louisville has received some bizarre criticisms in the media, but inside NFL front offices, there could be more interest than draft experts are saying. But if he drops to No. 30, the Vikings should be interested. Jackson might need a year to sit (a la Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City), which would require the Vikings to have a win-now quarterback. Bradford’s knee injuries are likely to scare teams away from committing to him long term. With an improved offensive line and running game, Bradford could make the Vikings very competitive if he remained healthy.

Drawbacks:

The Vikings are in the middle of a winning window. Relying on Bradford to stay healthy is very risky. There’s also no guarantee they could get Jackson or any other reasonably good quarterback prospect in the draft. By the time the draft comes around, many – if not all – other quality QB options would be off the table.

Why it’s the best outcome: We have seen a number of good QB prospects drop down the draft board for reasons outside of what’s important and predictive of success (see: Bridgewater Pro Day). Jackson has an incredibly high ceiling. Bradford might also prove that his knee can stay healthy. He’s got the talent to be a franchise QB.

Odds of it happening: Very low

Bottom line

Each one of the Vikings’ options has risks. Cousins is the closest to a sure thing, but he’s an expensive sure thing. Bridgewater’s health is worrisome, but the best outcome of him coming back is that the Vikings have their franchise QB again. Keenum’s small sample size success means that if he’s back, he can’t be the only capable QB there. And Bradford’s knee issues would make him difficult to rest playoff hopes on.

The post What is the best (and most likely) possible outcome of the Vikings’ quarterback situation? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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