WHO should be the starter in Minnesota next season? It’s a question that could single-handedly change the course of the Vikings franchise for both better or worse. Astonishingly the only QB on the roster who is contracted for next season is undrafted rookie Kyle Sloter with the others set for free agency. Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater or someone new? It’s decision time for Minnesota under center.
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The Case for Keenum
SEASON 2017 couldn’t have gone much better for Case Keenum. He changed the trajectory of his career with a personal best season that saw him throw for over 3,500 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His explosion came out of nowhere as the Vikings signed him to merely be a back up in 2017. Of course, injury issues to his teammates opened the door for him to succeed.
KEENUM grabbed the chance in front of him though and he deserves full credit. The only issue with him is determining whether this season was a flash in the pan, or if he can perform at this level regularly. Did Keenum make big throws or did he simply benefit from Diggs and Thielen making great plays?
A new offensive coordinator is required in Minnesota after Pat Shurmur took the Giants head coaching job. Changing the scheme or the structure of the offense might also expose Keenum’s flaws and prove to be disastrous for the Vikings. After his success in 2017, he will want to be paid now too, so gone are the days of getting Keenum on the cheap.
The Case for Bradford
BRADFORD started the season and looked like the Vikings true QB 1 early in the piece. He threw for 346 yards and three scores in a win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 earning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honours. From there it was all downhill though as Bradford battled knee issues that led to him being placed on the IR list in November.
HE did return in time to be the backup for Minnesota’s divisional round game against the Saints, but Bradford’s availability still remains the biggest question mark heading the next season. His market value is estimated to be upwards of $20 million which is crazy considering the season he is coming off. After completing just six quarters of football, investing a big salary into Bradford as your main guy is a highly risky scenario, one that I don’t think a team is foolish enough to make.
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The Case for Bridgewater
PERSONALLY bringing Teddy Bridgewater back seems to be the most popular and most realistic option out of the three former Vikings, The only issue is that Bridgewater hasn’t taken a meaningful snap since 2015. Given the fact that he hasn’t been playing he is probably the cheapest option of the trio, but the question remains, just how good is he?
IN his last full season he led Minnesota to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth while throwing for 3,231 yards. Heading into the next year he suffered a devastating ACL tear and knee dislocation in practice that saw him miss over a year of football. While it seems like Bridgewater has recovered from his freak injury we aren’t exactly sure what we can expect from him in 2018.
DUE to the large salary cap flexibility that Minnesota has, they could look to other free agents to try and ignore all three former Vikings. Kirk Cousins is a name that has been floated around as a potential target. With Drew Brees almost 100% certain to return to New Orleans and Jimmy G staying in San Fran, Cousins might be the best QB on the market.
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CONSIDERING their talented players at other positions, Minnesota could go in a completely different direction and make sure they don’t lose their stars across the roster. That could involve bringing in a veteran and using an early pick on drafting a quarterback. Failing that there is always a chance that they could trade for someone who they are interested in. All of these options seem unlikely but never say never.
IF I’m sitting in the GM chair at Minnesota there’s no way I’m bringing Sam Bradford back, his injuries are just too alarming to be ignored. That leaves Bridgewater and Keenum or perhaps another free agent. In a perfect world, I would love to see the Vikings work out a way to bring both of those guys back, but I don’t know how possible it is.
MINNESOTA were relatively lucky with injuries to their skill position players and if one or two of them were to go down next year then Keenum would be leaned on to produce at a higher level. That’s not exactly a position you would want to be in. That leaves Bridgewater as the logical choice for the upcoming season. I don’t think the answer is to pay Cousins $20-$25 million, especially when you can get Bridgewater for much, much cheaper.
HE is a cheaper option, he is much younger and arguably he has the highest ceiling out of all the guys on the list. The smartest thing to do would be to sign him and perhaps a veteran backup (Drew Stanton, Matt Moore, Ryan Fitzpatrick) and generate some competition at the position. Considering the talent on the rest of the team Bridgewater is the smartest and safest choice.
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