With a little time to ingest what transpired over the last 48 hours, one has to ask what was the motivating factor that got the Minnesota Vikings to trade a first-round draft pick next year and a conditional pick in 2018 to acquire quarterback Sam Bradford.
The most obvious answer is that they were unconvinced that Shaun Hill could be the quarterback for all of 2016. Not that he doesn’t have the ability to be a starter, but rather that he isn’t likely to make it through 16 games. It’s reminiscent of when Brad Childress benched Tarvaris Jackson to make Gus Frerotte the starter – not just for the Week 3 game he made the announcement, but for the rest of the season.
The immediate reaction from those familiar with both the Vikings and Frerotte was that there was no way he was going to survive the ferocity of the beatings a veteran QB takes in playing 14 games.
If the thought was that Hill couldn’t hold up based in a wealth of background history to lend credence to that mindset, then we can take it at that.
A second opinion is that, when viewing the other options, the Vikings gave up a lot in order to land a player they felt could best fill the void. Let’s not forget 2010. Coming into the season for the first time in a decade with legitimate August Super Bowl aspirations, things started falling apart early. In what seemed like a clear non-Rick Spielman move, the Vikings traded a third-round pick for Randy Moss in hopes of lighting a fire under a veteran-laden team that the Vikings were serious.
Prior to the Rams game, Spielman was surrounded by a sweaty posse of local media demanding answers (and getting professional subterfuge) as to a Plan B option.
Last week, Spielman made the cryptic phrase that he wasn’t going mortgage the future to acquire a quarterback. For those who chose to listen to the sentences that followed that statement, Spielman basically provided the background needed to assess the statement by intimating that early trade calls coming into Winter Park were asking for young players the Vikings are developing. Danielle Hunter wasn’t worth one of the McCown brothers.
The price was hefty, but the Vikings proved with Moss that, when the organization is convinced they have the requisite talent and need a playmaker, ponying up the dough is part of doing business. The organization has a history of paying full-on retail and Bradford’s contract would appear to qualify as full-sticker price.
A third view is that, if you take a critical look at Bradford, he may well be the most accomplished quarterback to play for the Vikings since Brett Favre. While he hasn’t been viewed as a winner during his career, last year, when asked to throw for a living, he had 12 games with 205 or more passing yards – topping 300 yards five times. If things go as planned, he won’t be asked to do that – the Eagles lost three of the five games he topped 300 yards – but, it’s nice to know that, if the situation calls for it, Bradford may be the best pure passer the Vikings have had since Favre.
The fourth and most ominous view is that Teddy Bridgewater’s knee injury is so devastating that it will keep him out not only this year, but potentially next year as well. The Vikings have options to get out of Bradford’s second year of his deal, where Philly already paid out $11 million in signing/roster bonuses to take away some of the sting. But, he’ll be due $4 million in insurance money on the fifth day of the league year in March.
Even if Teddy is slamming his rehab like nobody this side of Adrian Peterson in the early months of 2012, there is no way anyone can know with any certainty in mid-March 2017 that Bridgewater will be back. A best-case scenario is that the Vikings come into 2017 with Bridgewater and Bradford competing for the starting job – Teddy’s pee-wee rookie contract makes than palatable.
A worst-case scenario is that Teddy never sees the field and Bradford is the starter by near-default. Either way, the Vikings have their butts covered to make a legitimate deep postseason run based on their currently healthy personnel.
Whether you think the Vikings hit the chicken switch and gave up too much for Bradford or think it was a wise investment to give up a current college player in next year’s draft to get a former No. 1 overall pick who can provide a desperately needed boost to an offense numbed by the loss of Bridgewater, the debate will rage throughout the next four months at a minimum.
If nothing else, the Vikings proved they weren’t going to wait for a team to cast off somebody on the waiver wire to fill the roster spot that had been penned in for the starting spot. They got the best available player in their view that was on the market. It came with a price tag, but they plunked down the currency to get it done.
- There were Vikings landing in new places in the NFC North over the weekend. The Packers claimed running back Jhurell Pressley off waivers and wide receiver Isaac Fruechte and tight end Brian Leonhardt opted to join the Detroit Lions practice squad.
- In more news of NFC North players changing addresses, some were surprised when the Packers cut Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton. Green Bay fans must have been sick to their stomachs when they found out Sitton signed a three-year deal with the Bears Sunday.
- Another NFC North veteran is moving on out. Chicago kicker Robbie Gould, who spent the 11 years as the kicker for the Bears, was released over the weekend.
- Willie Beavers came back to the Vikings on the practice squad, which came as something of a surprise since he was drafted in the fourth round – picks that almost never get cut as rookies, much less going unclaimed on waivers. Beavers turned out to be the highest drafted rookie who didn’t end up on a 53-man roster or injured reserve.