Is a QB Controversy awaiting Minnesota?
SPFIC | 10 Jan, 2018
The Minnesota Vikings have had a storybook year in 2017! They finished 13-3 and earned a first round bye in the NFL playoffs. They are also hoping to earn a bus ride to the Super Bowl this year - the one that will be held at their home stadium this season. Oh, and that new stadium which just opened, looks beautiful and like a great place to play! We will ignore that it is Minnesota and the freezing cold winters since most of the United States is currently in a deep freeze anyway - including Florida!
But success can also have it's challenges. While teams like the Cleveland Browns or New York Jets are searching for an answer at quarterback, the Vikings are about to have the opposite problem: too many quarterbacks!
While Case Keenum was the leader of the offense for most of the season, he was actually lucky to make the roster this season. He was signed as a free agent in April of this year with 2014 #1 pick Teddy Bridgewater still not 100% at that point and it was not certain he would be ready for the start of the season. Bridgewater and former overall #1 pick and 2016 incumbent Sam Bradford were expected to battle it out for the starting spot going into camp. Bradford himself was aquired last season from Philadelphia when the Eagles picked up Carson Wentz as the overall #2 pick and worked the trade with the Vikings when Bridgewater went down.
With Bridgewater and Bradford coming back to health, it is going to set up a very interesting off-season for the Vikings. Keenum has been solid for them this season. He played in 15 games on the year - getting pressed into action when Bradford went down with an injury on September 17th. All Keenum did was guide the team to its best season in almost two decades. He only trails Drew Brees with a completion percentage of 67% and his QB Rating (QBR) currently ranks him 7th in the NFL. Not bad for a QB who went undrafted and had two "mop up" duty stints in Houston and with the Rams - warming the position for #1 pick Jared Goff - before being signed in the off-season this year.
Bradford was the incumbent before his injury. He actually had a decent 2016 and was the likely favorite even with a healthy Teddy Bridgewater. For this season, the Vikings will not mess with what is working for them. As long as Keenum has been winning, it would be foolish to tinker with the offense. Should be go down, they now have more options in Bradford or Bridgewater.
But, going into 2018, it will be difficult to see the Vikings keeping all three going into camp with so many quarterback needy teams out there. it is likely that a draft day deal could be coming. If the Vikings can win at least a game in the playoffs, it would be hard not to at least give Keenum the opportunity to win the job outright next season. Bradford would probably be the more likely challenger in the head-to-head race, which leaves Bridgewater out. Bridgewater will have played in only 1 game in almost two seasons going into the next camp, so he might not have enough support in Minnesota over the other two and is probably the most expendable. Then again, would Keenum or Bradford offer more trade value to the club and let the remainder battle with Bridgewater for the starting role knowing that Bridgewater will probably fall as the #2 in that case.It is conceivable that they bring all three to camp and look to trade one just prior to the season - injuries do happen often in the pre-season.
If is not common for a team to have two first round QBs on the roster to begin with. To have two playing behind a third undrafted quarterback makes for an even more interesting scenario. But, it is much better to have multiple options heading into the playoffs than not. 2018 will sort itself out, but there will be some drama.