Minnesota Vikings’ 2016 will be historically significant – for better or worse

The Minnesota Vikings start the four-month annual march toward crowning one as champion. Without their starting quarterback, the last 11 days have been as hectic as just about any in franchise history.

The Minnesota Vikings have seen plenty of turmoil over the last 11 days, losing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and having to make a potentially franchise-changing move by swinging a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire Sam Bradford.

Many players and coaches have gone on the record in the last week to say that they admire the move – a sign from the very top of the organization that 2016 isn’t to be potentially ruined before it can get started.

From the time Bridgewater went down last Tuesday until the trade with the Eagles to acquire Bradford was made official Saturday morning, we may never know what other possibilities were being considered.

Was a deal for Mike Glennon considered?

Was there a chance that one of the McCown brothers was coming?

As long as brothers are involved, could a Hoyer have been considered?

Was Aaron Murray an option since it was known ahead of time that Andy Reid was shopping him around before the Vikings made the trade and was likely to get cut?

Did they kick the tires on Colin Kaepernick or take a knee?

Did Mike Vick’s phone ring?

Was the return of Christian Ponder being pondered?

Was Mark Sanchez ever in play?

Could social media trolls actually get traction for Peyton Manning?

These are questions that were all rendered moot when the Vikings cut the deal with the Eagles.

By just about any standard, Bradford wasn’t a player that was even on the speculator’s radars. By all accounts in Philly, the Eagles were content to let the second overall pick in April – North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz – sit out his rookie season. That is backed up by the fact that the payment of the second half of his $11 million signing bonus from the contract he signed in March was made on Sept. 1 – less than 48 hours before he was traded.

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If the Eagles were intent on trading Bradford, why would they pay out $5.5 million on Thursday, Sept. 1, if they didn’t have the intent of keeping him?

Sharks start circling wounded prey pretty quickly when the prey is only a week and change away from the start of the regular season. General Manager Rick Spielman even mentioned extemporaneously while surrounded by a semicircle of reporters that when the time comes that he writes a book, he will recall the outrageous offers made by other teams sensing weakness and desperation.

This wasn’t new ground for the Wilf ownership or the Vikings. Those who were in Mankato in 2009 remember with some clarity the literal meeting of the minds on the sideline of a training camp practice field. Zygi and Mark Wilf were there. Brad Childress was there, paying little attention to the practice going on behind him. Spielman was there. Several other organizational types were there. The problem was that, during an especially bad few practices, neither Tarvaris Jackson nor Sage Rosenfels was doing anything to win the job. It was one of the sloppiest practices in some time.

The midfield huddle was marked by several of the participants being on their phones. Something big was happening, but observers had no clue what it was.

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Not long afterwards, the first whiff came out that the Vikings were wooing Brett Favre.

We all know what happened and nobody expects Bradford to provide that sort of infusion of lethality to the 2016 Vikings that Favre did in 2009. But, when viewed from a distance, the Vikings made the commitment to not allow a quarterback issue to get in the way of a team that had the chance to be special.

When the strike year of 2011 deprived coaches the chance to get their hands on their rookie class and work with them through minicamps and OTAs, the Class of 2011 was coming in blind to training camp – just days after the lockout was settled.

For the Vikings, that rookie class included first-round quarterback Christian Ponder. With this particular disadvantage, the Vikings front office acted boldly again, signing veteran Donovan McNabb.

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Favre stunk out the first couple of games he played, yet the Vikings won despite him. It wasn’t until the final couple minutes of the San Francisco game that Favre showed the magic.

McNabb never came close to being passable. He hadn’t missed any meals during the lockout and his uniform looked like a sausage casing because it was intended for a slimmer man than the one that showed up in Mankato.

Favre was never viewed as a long-term answer, although one has to wonder if the Vikings had succeeded in 2010 if Favre would have hung it up. He got beaten into retirement and sanctions were laid out to the Saints for the way that beating was administered.

McNabb made sure by his play that he was never a long-term answer.

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With Bridgewater in the baby steps of a long and grueling rehabilitation process to continue his NFL career, the Wilf-owned Vikings find themselves in a third dramatic quarterbacking decision – a trilogy of despair that has unfortunately become tattooed upon the Wilfs.

The first one worked out incredibly well … at first. The second was an unqualified disaster.

Act III?

Get your popcorn ready.


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