The Minnesota Vikings clearly have a game plan in mind as it pertains to filling its needs in free agency and the draft, but the one position that isn’t getting nearly the publicity it should is the current status of the quarterback position.
Minnesota appears set with Sam Bradford as its starter, but Bradford has a history of injury and, given the problems that beset the Vikings offensive line last season, it was a minor miracle that he was able to stay healthy for all 15 games he played after being signed 10 days prior to the start of the regular season.
As things currently stand, the Vikings have three quarterbacks on their roster – Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater and Taylor Heinicke. The organization is being extremely tight-lipped about the status of Bridgewater’s injury, but they’re making no bones about Bradford being the starter in 2017, but if you read between the lines, it sounds more like Bridgewater won’t play than he will.
If the Vikings are going to address the QB position from the belief that Bridgewater won’t be available in 2017, the time may be now to make the decision and land a veteran backup QB.
While there are certain veteran quarterbacks who likely don’t interest the Vikings – Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Colin Kaepernick all likely want money in excess of what the Vikings would be willing to spend, there are still some backups with starting experience that could be under consideration. Here are a few names Vikings fans should familiarize themselves with.
Shaun Hill – He was 1-0 as a starter last season, but at age 37 it would be difficult to expect him to carry the offense if Bradford were to go down early in the season.
Case Keenum – A former starter in Houston, he filled in before the Rams forced Jared Goff in as a starter. He has the experience to be the kind of guy who could fit in as a backup.
Mark Sanchez – Most people don’t have a positive opinion of him, but he’s versed in Pat Shurmur’s offense, he won’t cost an arm and a leg, especially if Jerry Jones holds off cutting Tony Romo and he has something that guys like Bradford, Cutler, Kaepernick, Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III don’t have – a career record above .500 as a starter (37-35).
Robert Griffin III – It may sound outrageous, but his price tag has dropped dramatically and he might come in on a one-year deal that would be fair from the organizational perspective. He can still make plays and, as the second-string guy, there would be no pressure for him to perform until (or if) he would be called upon. You can bet the team would have more confidence with a playmaker like RG3 under center than the other available vets.
Josh McCown – Another 37-year old, he has been taking visits, so if the Vikings have any interest they need to put their hat in the ring soon because he likely has offers on the table already.
Chase Daniel – He’s a 30-year-old career backup but has shown flashes. However, after almost two weeks of free agency, he’s visiting the Saints, where he served as Drew Brees’ caddy. If No. 9 signs off, Daniels is coming back to the Big Easy. If not, he should end up elsewhere.
Blaine Gabbert – A former first-round pick from “the Ponder draft” as it is remembered locally, both he and Ponder are there for the taking, but the NFL has crushed their confidence like an aluminum can and it’s hard to imagine the Vikings giving either of them the keys to the offense, unless they wait too long and the meat is off the bone of the free-agent carcass.
Charlie Whitehurst – The King of the Flow has brought sideline grooming to new heights – he’s a first-ballot Clipboard Hall of Fame selection. The hope is Bradford stays healthy. Whitehurst is accustomed to that.
The rest – Depending on how much you see potential in them, Thaddeus Lewis, Kellen Moore, Austin Davis, Ryan Nassib and T.J. Yates are all bargain-bin options. We have no idea how high Rick Spielman was on any of these guys coming out of college. Clearly, none of them has put much on tape to make their case to start, but they all bring promise.
The Vikings have made no inclination that they’re doing anything at the QB position and the market of available players is still an open topic of debate. It seems clear the Vikings will have two QBs behind Bradford when the 2017 regular season kicks in.
But will there be a veteran among them, whether Bridgewater or someone else? Perhaps they will wait until after the draft to make that decision and they might be able to do that with how many veterans are still available in free agency. That move would allow them more time assess Bridgewater. The 2016 Raiders taught us that if you have too much inexperience behind your starter, it can be a recipe for disaster if the starter gets injured. Bradford has a history of going down and staying down, which should make this a topic of more short-term concern than long-term concern.
The point is moot if Bridgewater is deemed on target to return to the 2017 Vikings. But there has been scant little to buy into that hypotheses at this time, which should make the QB room for 2017 more than just a passing concern – both literally and figuratively.
- The Vikings were aggressive in their pursuit of tight end Jared Cook, with ESPN reporting that they offered him more money than the Raiders, but any potential of trying to double down on playmaking tight ends went by the boards when Cook signed on with Oakland.
- U.S. Bank Stadium is up for an award as part of the 10th Annual Sports Business Awards, which will be presented May 24 in New York City. The stadium is nominated for Sports Facility of the Year, along with Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Golden 1 Center, Hard Rock Stadium and Rogers Place.
- In a related 2017 Sports Business Award nomination, the firm of Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment, which was in charge of selling seat licenses and premium seating in the new Vikings stadium, was nominated in the category of Best in Property Consulting, Sales and Client Services.
- Viking Update would like to extend our condolences to family of Dan Rowe, the Vikings play-by-play radio announcer from 1991-2000. Rowe called some of the greatest games in Vikings history, including the highs and lows of the 1998 season, and will be remembered fondly by Vikings fans everywhere who heard his spin on calling games. Rowe passed away Friday night at the age of 67 following a long battle with ALS.