The Minnesota Vikings face a good but challenging choice, picking between two quarterbacks who have shown both good and bad over their years.
Any time you have options, it’s a good thing. The Minnesota Vikings would know something about that.
After reaching the NFC Championship Game, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman faces a dilemma. Minnesota sees an unusual situation this offseason, with all three of its quarterbacks hitting free agency. Even rarer is each member of the trio will draw legitimate interest on the open market.
Oddly enough, Sam Bradford, a former first-overall pick, is almost certainly going elsewhere. Bradford, 30, was traded to the Vikings for a first-round pick and then some back ion Sept. 2016, but it hasn’t worked out. Since the deal, Bradford has played in 17 games and while his play has been good, his health continues to be the sticking point.
The assumed departure of Bradford leaves the unexpected tough call between Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum. Bridgewater, 25, has recovered from a career-threatening leg injury that robbed him of the previous two seasons, but can the leg be trusted? Even if it can, should Spielman sign Bridgewater over Keenum, who proved his worth by helping the Vikings to the doorstep of Super Bowl LII.
Keenum, 29 (turns 30 on Feb. 17), was terrific in 14 starts this year with Minnesota. The journeyman threw for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns against seven interceptions, creating a chemistry with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
If Bridgewater was assuredly healthy, he would probably win out. The Vikings invested a first-round pick in him and he’s five years younger than Keenum. Additionally, Keenum was mediocre in the postseason, turning the ball over three times in a blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Yet the uncertainty over Bridgewater looms. If Minnesota moves on from Keenum and Bridgewater never regains his previous form, the Vikings are up the proverbial creek while their defense is in its prime years. What an incredible waste of talent that would be.
It also must be noted that Bridgewater was never a sure thing even when upright. In his only few years as a starter, the former Louisville star threw 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions, racking up 3,231 yards on 7.2 yards per attempt. While his inexperience played a part in those paltry numbers, they can’t be forgotten.
Spielman has to weigh the potential of Bridgewater against the ceiling of Keenum, factoring in age and salary. It’s impossible to know what Bridgewater would command on the open market considering pedigree, age and injury history, but in a quarterback-needy league, somebody would push money into his pockets.
Keenum should draw a considerable check, even with a past of average play. After all, it’s about what you’ve done lately, and Keenum did plenty over the past six months.
Going into free agency, Minnesota has the toughest decision of any team in the NFL. With a month to churn through the options, Spielman must get it right, knowing his career could well be defined by it.