When it comes to their 2017 starting quarterback, the Vikings are taking it one week at a time. When it comes to their 2018 starting quarterback, the Vikings aren’t taking it, at all.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the team intends to wait to decide on their 2018 quarterback after the 2017 season fully plays itself out. It’s a risky strategy, given that none of the quarterbacks under contract for 2017 — Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, and Kyle Sloter — has a deal beyond the current season. (Sloter will be an exclusive rights free agent, which means the Vikings can control his rights with a minimum-salary tender.)
Another source tells PFT that the Vikings and Keenum have had no conversations about a contract that would replace the one-year, $2 million deal he signed in the offseason. Forced to bet on himself, Keenum keeps flipping solid cards, week after week.
Remember when the Vikings entered the bye week at 6-2 and some pointed out that he’d beaten a revolving door of young and unproven quarterbacks, from Jameis Winston to Mitchell Trubisky to to Brett Hundley to DeShone Kizer? Since then, Keenum has pushed the team to an average of 30.6 points per game, outdueling the likes of Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, and Matthew Stafford, the highest-paid player in the game.
The Vikings have at their disposal the protection of the franchise tag, which would give Keenum a gigantic one-year salary but also provide the Vikings a chance to assess whether 2017 was a fluke. However, with both Bridgewater and Bradford available to be re-signed, spending that much to keep Keenum virtually guarantees the other two will be gone.
The best outcome for the Vikings would be to find a way to keep two of them around, ideally Keenum and Bridgewater. But both guys will want to play. With a shortage of competent quarterbacks throughout the league, the Vikings likely won’t be able to afford two of them.
Another factor will be the future of offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. He’s getting more and more buzz for a second shot at being a head coach (in hindsight, a 10-23 record during two years with the Browns doesn’t look all that awful), and if he leaves the Vikings will need a new coordinator. That person, whoever it is, will have plenty of influence over who the quarterback will be, especially since the head coach is a defensive specialist.
Also, don’t rule out Shurmur making a run at Keenum, as his first order of free-agency business as a second-time head coach.
For now, the Vikings aren’t worrying about any of that. With a 9-2 record and a balanced team that has outperformed all expectations against three playoff contenders only 11 days apart, the franchise currently is in the middle of something potentially special for 2017. The impact of a special season on 2018 becomes an issue for 2018, when the Vikings almost certainly will have to pick one of their three veteran quarterbacks to be the guy moving forward.