Hill is currently 36 years old, and it is safe to question whether or not his body will be able to hold up over the course of a 16-game regular season. The Vikings currently do not have much to work with behind Hill either, as undrafted rookie free agent Joel Stave has not looked impressive during the preseason and Taylor Heinicke is still recovering from a severed ligament in his leg that occurred after he kicked a door and suffered a cut on glass.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman met with the media before the team’s Thursday night game to discuss the situation. He did not give much, in classic general manager style, but he seemed to realize that they will need to bring in at least one more player.
“I know Shaun’s an older guy. I know that we have the utmost of confidence in him and I think Shaun and our coaches and players do as well,” Spielman began. “But we also have to do our due diligence to make sure who that backup is. Whether it’s maybe one of the young guys on our roster, prepared for what’s going to come up in the next 48 hours on the street, or a potential trade.”
If they do bring someone else in, the question then becomes who is going to be available for the Vikings to pick up, and who will be available at a reasonable price? Spielman said that they have already been in talks with some teams about trading for their backup, but the teams are often asking for more than the Vikings are willing to give up.
Spielman values draft picks very highly and likely won’t give up any high to mid-round picks in a trade for a replacement quarterback. It’s just the way he is and the value he puts on building through the draft.
“All our options are open right now,” Spielman began. “And to be honest with you, you sit there and talk on the phone and go through everything, and one thing that we will not do, and I promise you this, is put our organization in a situation where it’s going to inhibit us or hurt us going into the future. By that I mean, people are asking for some crazy things, people think that you’re desperate, and we’re not going to do something that -- in my estimation and talking with Coach (Mike Zimmer) and our ownership -- it puts us in a situation where we jeopardize the future of this franchise.”
One reason teams have been so reluctant to part with their backups is because they never know what will happen to their starters over the course of the season. If they give away their backups and then their starter goes down with an injury they are in a worse scenario than the Vikings currently are.
It also sounds like the Vikings are wanting to wait for this weekend’s games to be over so they can further evaluate how the players perform in the preseason.
“I think the other thing you’ve got to remember is a lot of these teams, everybody except for the game last night, everybody’s playing the backups. So everybody wants to make sure that they get healthy through this last game; it’s more than likely the starters aren’t going to play – or very little – so all the backups are going to play. So all of a sudden the tone may change a little bit: ‘Hey we got through healthy, we’ve got this extra guy,’ Now maybe it’s different than what I’m hearing at this point.”
The general manager said that the team is hoping to get another quarterback in by Monday because it is important for them to begin to get comfortable with the playbook and the players on the team. He learned the hard way that it takes time for quarterbacks to adjust to a new team back during the 2013 season.
The Vikings signed Josh Freeman on Oct. 6, 2013 and was named the starter just 10 days later. It was something that completely backfired on the Vikings as Freeman threw the ball 53 times and only completed 20 passes for 190 yards and an interception.
“It’s extremely hard (to plug a guy into your system), because he’s got to come in and learn the system,” Spielman said. “He’s never thrown a pass to any of our receivers. All that chemistry and stuff that you put in the whole offseason, through the OTAs, through the minicamp, through training camp, through the preseason, it’s different than maybe another sport. You just can’t plug a guy in, especially at that position and just say, ‘OK, this is easy. Just go out and pick Joe A and bring him in,’ and everything’s going to be like he’s been here for 10 years working with these guys.”
Spielman does not want to make the same mistake again this year and is doing his due diligence on a number of different players.