Another year, another move.
The Vikings were forced to scramble last year when Teddy Bridgewater dislocated his left knee and tore multiple ligaments in it on Aug. 30. Four days later, Sam Bradford was brought in to be the starter.
With Bridgewater still recovering from his injury and the Vikings looking for more experience behind him, they agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Keenum last week and made it official on Monday.
For Keenum, it means another move.
He started his career with the Houston Texans as a rookie free agent, then spent the first 15 weeks of the 2014 season with the St. Louis Rams, returned to Houston for the final two games of the season, then re-signed with the Rams in 2015 before moving with them to Los Angeles in 2016.
“We’re all over the place right now. My wife and I have been living out of a suitcase, I guess on almost two years with the Rams moving from St. Louis to L.A. and it’s kind of our home base,” Keenum said on Tuesday. “But when we were in L.A., we actually weren’t just in L.A. We were in Oxnard, Irvine for training camp, and then Thousand Oaks for the regular facilities. We’re excited to get up [to Minnesota] as soon as we can. I think we’re blazing a little more fast-paced than my wife and I would like, but we’ve enjoyed our time here. We’ll enjoy our few last weeks here and look forward to this next chapter.”
Given that Keenum has had his home base in three different cities in four years, it might seem logical that he might have been seeking a multi-year contract as an unrestricted free agent this year. Instead, he signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Vikings.
“The business side of the NFL, it’s so strange to me. I trust my agent. I trust Rick [Spielman, Vikings general manager], those guys. I think they did a great job with my contract,” Keenum said. “So you just try to make decisions based on what’s best for you and you take all different possibilities and things into consideration and we felt like a one-year deal at this point was best.”
Each year has presented a different challenge.
In 2013, it was about making the 53-man roster, but he ended up starting eight games. Coming out of the University of Houston, he signed with the Texans as a rookie free agent after he became the NCAA’s all-time passing leader with 19,217 yards and 155 touchdowns. In college, he twice earned the Sammy Baugh Trophy (2009 and 2011), awarded annually to the nation’s top college passer, and is one of just two players in NCAA history to register multiple 5,000-yard passing seasons.
In 2014, he was trying to find stability between the Rams and Texans, but that didn’t happen. He didn’t throw a regular-season pass until he started the final two games for the Texans.
In 2015, he started five games for the St. Louis Rams, including the final four.
Last year, with the Rams moving to Los Angeles, he started the first nine games of the season before first overall draft pick Jared Goff took over.
“There’s so many different lessons on sports in general that you can learn and specifically with my case, I think the one thing I tried to do and I feel like I did a pretty good job was just kind of keeping my head down and keep moving forward,” he said. “Just keep doing my job, keep doing what I do, not worry about too many externals – worry about what other people are thinking or doing. Just do my job and play like I know how to play. That’s being the best teammate, be the best player, be the best quarterback that I could be. Obviously, I didn’t win all the games that I would have like, but I’m learning from it and I’ve grown from it and I’m excited about what it’s taught and where my career is going to go now.”
With the Rams in 2014, Keenum was around Bradford, who was recovering from his own anterior cruciate injury and basically just spent time with Keenum in meetings and then went to rehab his injury. Keenum said the two haven’t talked since he was being courted by the Vikings, but called Bradford “a heck of an athlete” with “incredible arm talent.”
Keenum finds some familiar elements and terminology in the Vikings offense, but the heart of the acclimation process will start in a few weeks when he makes it back to Minnesota for offseason workouts and then practices.
“It’s kind of been a whirlwind, just the whole free agency process, just figuring out where we’re going to be and what we’re going to do,” he said.
He said he got a good feeling from the organization during his visit, but he didn’t talk specifics about his role with the coaches.
Through four years in the NFL, Keenum has started 22 games, completed 58.4 percent of his passes for 5,224 yards, 24 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and has a 78.4 career passer rating.
Now he joins his third team in his fourth NFL city in the last four years. After signing with the Vikings for only one year, there is no guarantee of what the future holds beyond 2017, especially given the uncertain recovery of Bridgewater, but at this point Keenum is used to uncertainties in his professional life.
“I try not to look too far ahead anyway, so that’s kind of my mindset is don’t look too far in the past – learn from it, move on – and the same thing about the future,” he said. “Do the absolute best that you can right now and I think God … he has a plan for me and my family and we’ll be excited to see what it is moving forward.”