The Minnesota Vikings have a problem at the quarterback position that is quite unique. They have too much talent for one roster. Some teams look desperately to find even one potentially capable man under center. The Vikings have three potential starters, but only one offense to be run.
The Minnesota Vikings Unique Quarterback Situation
Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, and Case Keenum all have expiring contracts this offseason. All three players have shown that they can be starting caliber, with star potential. The Vikings front office will have to decide who the franchise man will be going forward.
Bradford has shown glimpses of greatness. This comes as no surprise as he was a Heisman Trophy winner during his college days. His talent was promising enough that he was taken first overall in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma. Much of his career has been plagued by injuries. This has prevented him from ever taking the next step in his NFL career.
During his one full season as the Vikings starter (15 of 16 games started), Bradford was a model of consistency. He finished the season with a 20:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also set an NFL single-season record for completion percentage at a stellar 71.6 percent rate.
These great numbers aside, he finished the season with a record of seven wins to eight losses. This could potentially be blamed on the revolving door of offensive lineman Bradford had in front of him, or the lack of a running game in Minnesota. Looking at Bradford’s NFL career as a whole, he has never played a majority of a season and had a winning record. His only season above .500 was this past season, where he went 2-0 in the two games he started. He had his season cut short due to yet another knee injury.
A quarterback with such a rollercoaster of a career thus far may not be worth signing to a long-term deal. He would likely continue to seek a high-value contract. Minnesota should look to let Bradford walk, allowing him to seek a contract on a team that needs veteran help.
Keenum was the man to step in and fill the shoes for Bradford following his injury. Since becoming the starter for the Vikings, Keenum has gone 11-3, leading the team to a first-round playoff bye. He was initially expected to be a backup to both Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater when he returned. He has since become the man who has led the Vikings to a NFC North Championship.
While the stats of Bradford’s season at starter may look more impressive, it is the intangibles that Keenum has shown during his play this season that distinguish him. Keenum has shown a consistent ability to evade pressure and make plays from situations that look like certain defensive stops. Keenum’s surprising ability to make plays with his legs while keeping his eyes downfield have helped the Vikings offense take strides over the team from last season.
From his great play this season, Keenum looks like someone who could become the Vikings franchise man. That being said, one season in the Minnesota offense is a small sample size to base a large contract off of. The Vikings would be smart to attempt to negotiate a short-term contract with Keenum, offering him mid-level money for two or three seasons. This would keep him around for a few more years, while still keeping funds available for a contingency plan if something happens to Keenum. If the negotiations lead to the team having to lock him up for the long run at a high price, it’s possible that Case Keenum could be worth the investment. He has improved the play of all of his teammates on the offensive side of the field and has embraced the leadership role in Minnesota.
Bridgewater is, without a doubt, the spirit of the Vikings franchise. The fans in Minnesota and his teammates have all become deeply attached to “Teddy Two-Gloves.” The standing ovation that Bridgewater received as he returned from his nearly career-ending injury was likely the heartwarming moment of the season.
Bridgewater was drafted in 2014 to become the future of the franchise. He had begun to take every step necessary towards that outcome. The setback of the devastating knee injury sustained in August of 2016 could be the end of the Teddy Bridgewater era in Minnesota before it ever really got started.
Bridgewater’s lone drive in 2017 ended in an interception. It is still not known whether his body can hold up for an entire season. Re-signing Bridgewater to a long-term deal is a roll of the dice that the Vikings front office cannot afford to take with a young roster hitting its collective prime.
The Vikings should look to retain Teddy. They could offer him a short-term contract similar to what may be the initial offer for Keenum. Even if he never returns to his former self, his personality is a big enough presence in the Vikings locker room to keep him around. A locker room can never have too much leadership. He would also be a capable backup in the event that Keenum does not pan out for any reason. The deciding factor here will be what Bridgewater’s current ambitions will be. If he decides that he’d prefer to go to a team in need for the short-term, he may walk. For the sake of Minnesota, let’s hope that won’t be the case.