Posted on January 23, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
For a team that just played in the NFC Championship Game, the Minnesota Vikings have some heavy questions to answer this offseason. Naturally, the most pressing question is at the quarterback position. The Vikings finished the season with three quarterbacks on their roster who could all potentially be their starter in 2018. However, the team doesn’t appear to have a clear idea which one, if any of them, will be the starter next season.
With Sam Bradford sidelined with a knee injury, Case Keenum stepped in as Minnesota’s starting quarterback for much of the 2017 season. Keenum guided the Vikings to a 13-3 record and a spot in the NFC Championship Game. He ranked second in the NFL in Total Quarterback Rating. However, that doesn’t mean he’s convinced the Vikings that he’s the team’s future at quarterback.
“I’m going to work through the process, just like I always do,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday when asked about Keenum. “We’re going to evaluate all the players. We’re going to evaluate everybody and go about our business like we always do.”
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With Keenum being a free agent, he’s unlikely to re-sign with the Vikings unless they promise him the starting job. Instead, the Vikings may be inclined to go back to Bradford in 2018. He looked sharp in Week 1 before knee problems forced him to the sidelines. Bradford also comes with a lot more experience than Keenum.
Perhaps more importantly, Zimmer also appears confident that those knee problems are a thing of the past, especially since Bradford was healthy enough to serve as Keenum’s backup in the playoffs. Of course, Bradford had plenty of injury problems before this season, so the Vikings would be wise to have a reliable backup in place if they decide to go back to Bradford. But Keenum is unlikely to sign up for that role.
Finally, the wildcard of the group is Teddy Bridgewater, who once appeared to be Minnesota’s quarterback of the future. On Tuesday, Zimmer praised Bridgewater for his quick recovery from a serious knee injury during the 2016 preseason. However, he only threw two passes in 2017 while serving as Keenum’s backup the second half of the season.
“I think he’s doing good now,” Zimmer said of Bridgewater. “He’s at the point where he can play. You just have to work through figuring out where he’s at in that because obviously we didn’t get to see him through games.”
Bridgewater, like Bradford and Keenum, is set to be a free agent. Ideally, the Vikings would re-sign him to be the backup to either Bradford or Keenum. However, Bridgewater has said he views himself as a starter in 2018. After sitting out almost two full seasons, there’s no guarantee he’ll get that chance. But his odds of earning a starting job may be better if he signs elsewhere rather than staying in Minnesota.
With all three quarterback options being free agents, the Vikings have some tough decisions to make and not a lot of time in which to make them. At the moment, the team doesn’t appear to have a clear idea what direction they will go.
“Have I thought about it? Yeah,” Zimmer said Tuesday. “But… my whole focus has been on the now, not so much the future and (Vikings GM) Rick Spielman and I had talked about that earlier. We said let’s just go through the season, let’s figure it out after the season, we’ll go through that process and go from there and see how that goes. We’re just going to work through it.”