Vikings need a true franchise quarterback

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As the Vikings commence the process of figuring out what to do with three veteran quarterbacks whose contracts have expired, there’s an important option that the Vikings need to include: D. None of the above.

Sam Bradford with an unreliable knee. Teddy Bridgewater, who may or may not ever become the guy the Vikings thought he’d be before his own devastating knee injury. Case Keenum, who put together a career year, with no guarantee the rest of the league won’t catch up with him. At a time when it’s presumed the Vikings will choose one of them, maybe the right answer for the short- and long-term interests of the team is none of them.

The 2018 offseason will include an unprecedented array of quarterback options. With the Vikings soon to be adding a new offensive coordinator, the style and system of that coach, coupled with the preferences of coach Mike Zimmer and G.M. Rick Spielman, will go a long way toward finalizing an approach that could entail the Vikings going off the board in an effort to find a true franchise quarterback.

How many have the Vikings ever had? Fran Tarkenton. Warren Moon, late in his career. Randall Cunningham, for a season. Daunte Culpepper, for a couple of years before his knee was shredded. Brett Favre, for a season.

True year-in, year-out contenders have franchise quarterbacks. Two years ago, the Vikings thought Teddy Bridgewater was becoming one. Now, they’d be wise to retreat to square one before making any decisions about which one, if any, of the three veteran quarterbacks they’ll keep.

Ideally, the Vikings eventually would find a young quarterback who becomes a franchise quarterback. If the goal is to try to get back to the final four and sneak through to the next level, they need to target a veteran franchise quarterback — and until Drew Brees re-signs with the Saints, he’s technically in play. Eli Manning is another possibility for a year or two; Alex Smith would have a slightly longer window. Then there’s Kirk Cousins, who may or may not be a true franchise quarterback and who may be available to the highest bidder.

For the Vikings, cost will be a factor. What will it take to keep Keenum, Bridgewater, or Bradford? What will it take to lure another veteran? Is there a young quarterback they believe in sufficiently to justify a move up from No. 30? Is Kyle Sloter the eventual future at the position?

Maybe it’s a guy like Brees for a year or two, with Sloter eventually taking over. Maybe it’s Keenum under the franchise tag for a year, with a wait-and-see approach as to whether he truly is the next Kurt Warner. Maybe it’s Bridgewater, better late than never.

Whatever they do, a team that has enjoyed quantity at the position should now focus on quality. Until that happens, those chances to lose in the NFC title will continue to come once every decade or so.

For more on this and other issues arising from the AFC and NFC title games, check out Monday’s PFT PM podcast.

67 responses to “Vikings need a true franchise quarterback

  1. “True year-in, year-out contenders have franchise quarterbacks.”

    Not much sense to say this, then throw out names of QBs who are closer to the end of their careers than the middle of their careers…

  2. Tommy Kramer was a pretty good QB you left off your list. Vikings fans already know this already.

  3. Yeah, and the sun is gonna rise tomorrow. Well, if I can see it through the 10 inches of snow we’re now getting. . . .

  4. Yes, they need a franchise quarterback. Drew Brees will not be available. Kirk Cousins won’t be worth the money (what was Washington’s record this year?). Alex Smith and Eli Manning are not that exciting and wouldn’t you have to trade for them?

    Case Keenum has probably hit his ceiling. Teddy Bridgewater still has a chance to fulfill his promise and the Vikings know how likely that is because they’ve been watching him in practice for weeks. The best-case scenario is Keenum and Bridgewater re-sign for reasonable contracts and there’s an open competition for the starter. Competition will bring out the best in them and you’ll have a capable guy if the starter gets injured. If Keenum wants too much, stick with Bridgewater and invest in improving the offensive and defensive lines and other areas that could use upgrades. If he doesn’t work out, you can sign a free agent next year.

  5. You’re not wrong. We need to figure it out at the position. I’d be fine with trying to woo Brees away from the Saints for a year or two stop-gap.

  6. They were a game from the SB with Keenum, and he’s not a franchise QB? Although, the greatness of the Vikings defense was revealed to be a lie, because that defense got demolished in the playoffs, first by Brees, then by Foles!

  7. Not a Viking fan, but they should keep Keenum…Young QB with some upside…and he has not been injured…develope him and he could turn out to be pretty good…

  8. Franchise Keenum and give Teddy a one year prove it deal. Tough end to a fun season. A little ( a very little ) comfort in knowing that the window is just opening for them. Sucks to have to wait until July for Viking football though. SKOL!!

  9. Do they, though? I tend to think they do, as well, but up until they lost conventional wisdom was that Keenum was playing well enough to get them to the Super Bowl and potentially win it. And this year saw 3 of the 4 conference championship game QBs being NOT at the franchise QB level. Minnesota lost more because their defense got shredded than due to Keenum’s play and Bortles made no major mistakes in their narrow loss. If Philly would happen to win it all every article would instantly shift to how you can win it all without a traditional franchise QB.

  10. ………as I said…….starting from scratch, with renewed emphasis on strategies to beat the “new” Green Bay Packers, the team to beat in the North Division.

  11. Well, they can’t have Hundley. We are sold on him, all in. McMuffin says so. And as Aaron is on the decline, we don’t have a choice. Hurting Aaron’s feelings is not allowed. I just wish we had a back up QB that we could’ve made the NFCCG with. Maybe Hundley will be that guy next year.

  12. Vikings giving Keenum 12-15 mill per year 3 year contract with an opt out after two seems logical and fair on both ends. This will give him an opportunity to prove hes not just a one hit wonder. In the Draft if something falls in your lap as far as a QB YOU TAKE HIM! Bradford and Bridgewater should go else where both are unreliable as their health…

  13. mogogo1 says:
    January 22, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    If Philly would happen to win it all every article would instantly shift to how you can win it all without a traditional franchise QB.
    ———————–

    You will always have a Trent Dilfer and a Brad Johnson here and there, but they are just anomalies created by great defenses.

  14. #1 the free agent qb market is the biggest in years, prices for keeping one or two qbs will not be bigger over last year. From everything the VIkes have done, it’s very apparent Sloter has SOMETHING. Who knows what that thing is, but it bears watching. All I know is when the Vikes get more depth on the offensive line and a db and a 3 technique that can rush the passer, franchise qb is optional, we were already a game out without one this year and we essentially get an extra first pick with Dalvin Cook coming back.

  15. Rather than bringing in some washed up retread like Eli Manning, how about sticking with one guy and developing him?

  16. Case Keenum in a Vikings jersey would be very upsetting next season. Here’s why:

    1. Shurmur is gone.
    2. Keenum performs like a low end starter against above .500 teams. Arm talent is weak, escapability is great. Which is why he’s a good back up.
    3. $20 million or more per year? Diggs, Kendricks, Barr, Wayne, Hunter, all have contracts coming up. I’d keep any two of them over Keenum.

  17. And unfortunately for MIN, QB is not their only question. That OL is long in the tooth and not great either. They don’t have a 2nd pass rusher. And their entire backfield is in flux. Will Cook’s knee be right? Will Murray even be on the team? McKinnon is probably gone….

  18. Been saying that for decades, always a FA coming in like Moon Cunningham, Favre, McNabb, or or wasting a 1st round pick on QB thats reached on like Bradford in trade or Ponder, or an unfortunate injury to Theodore, or Culpepper whom while he did put up numbers and was the closest thing to an in house Franchise QB I didn’t by into him, he turned the ball over WAY too much, and a lot of QBs put up great numbers when playing with two HOF WRs. Look at Kurt Warner with Holt and Bruce, then again with Fitz and Boldin, and when vs. when he was without them.

    A rule to go by in ANY sport if you get rid of someone, the person you bring in needs to be better than the replacement in 2 years 3 tops. Thats how you progress Philly got rid of Reid brought Chip Kelly in Regressed big time brought then hit on Pederson. The Packers let Favre go had some growing pains with Rodgers but it clearly was the right move for the future.

  19. Keenum was outplayed by Foles yesterday. The fact that he looked as good as he did this year should be a testament to the Vikings coaching. All he can throw is a 15 yard out and he can’t handle pressure. I think the Vikings could’ve gotten the same results with Colt McCoy

  20. Despite yesterday’s performance, the Vikings defense is too good and the team is too close to trade up for a rookie prospect. Therefore, the question becomes whether the other potential free agent QBs, i.e., Alex Smith or Kurt Cousins, are significantly better than Keenum, Bradford or Bridgewater? Personally, I think Bradford has a lot of talent, but he’s perpetually hurt. Bridgewater is also perpetually hurt and has yet to show any signs of significant talent. So, it comes down to how much the Vikings want to spend on Keenum, Smith or Cousins, assuming Cousins doesn’t get tagged again? I’m not sure any of them are “franchise “ QBs, but I think Cousins has the most talent and will likely cost the most, and Keenum the least talented, but will likely cost the least.

  21. The Vikings overachieved it’s as simple as that. With the QBs available they will be a sub .500 team like they were the year before.

  22. Is there a single “franchise QB” available? After Brady and Brees retire the NFL won’t have a single franchise QB worth watching. Brady dominates every year because the league doesn’t have franchise QB’s any longer. The days of teams facing other teams with even solid QB’s is long gone. We’re in the dark days of the NFL and that’s why fans too are walking away from watching the game. The game has become unwatchable, because teams don’t have legitimate QB’s. Am I blind?

  23. The Vikings will probably give Bridgewater the first shot at it, since they drafted him. Bradford will more likely be the backup.

  24. The Vikings Defense got shredded by the Eagles because just like the Offensive players Spielman does not thing he needs to draft linemen higher than the 5th-7th rounds. They could not get pressure on the QB’s the last 1 1/2 games. The Offense of those teams went for fast plays out of the QB’s hands.
    One thing that has stood out in recent years are the injuries of linemen, that reason is because they have had to line up across bigger stronger players. Ones Spielman passed on in the 1-4th rounds. He seems to think high round choices must ONLY go to the Splash positions. ANY defense is going to get burned if the Defense gives 6 seconds to a GOOD QB! Oh well at least it wasn’t a one and done again for the Vikings in the playoffs..

  25. Easier said than done. How many “true” franchise QB’s are there really ? It’s not like they are going to get one drafting 30th and they aren’t going to get one in Free Agency. Sign Keenum to the franchise tag and see if he continues to develop.

  26. Keenum had success. Much of that success was padded by great team play. Especially on defense.

    I know people don’t understand how a defense can help an offense. We can use examples like Trent Dilfer and Kaepernick. Not good quarterbacks on their own, but given enough opportunity and they can shine. All it takes is the defense giving the offense the ball a few extra times per game, by stopping the opponent or creating turnovers, and an average or less QB can eventually make some plays.

    Is Keenum a franchise guy? Probably not. His performance over his career hasn’t proven him elite.

  27. skawh says:
    January 22, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Is there a single “franchise QB” available? After Brady and Brees retire the NFL won’t have a single franchise QB worth watching. Brady dominates every year because the league doesn’t have franchise QB’s any longer. The days of teams facing other teams with even solid QB’s is long gone. We’re in the dark days of the NFL and that’s why fans too are walking away from watching the game. The game has become unwatchable, because teams don’t have legitimate QB’s. Am I blind?
    ____________________________________________

    Yes you are and thoroughly uninformed as well. If you were really a Hawks fan you wouldn’t have far to look for a legit and exciting QB.

  28. I thought that’s what Teddy was… until he got injured.
    I thought that’s what Andrew (Luck) was… until he got injured.
    I thought that’s what Case (Keenum) was… until he got in-over-his-head versus the Eagles.
    I thought that’s what Carson (Wentz) was… until he got upstaged by Nick Foles.
    I thought that’s what Alex (Smith) was… until he got beat by “baby Brady” (Mariota).
    I thought that’s what Tyrod (Taylor) was… until his coach benched him for no good reason.
    I thought that’s what Jared (Goff) was… until Matty Ice proved what a real Top 5 QB is.
    And so on… and so on…

  29. Unfortunately, with the exception of a couple of guys we got very late in their careers, we have not had a true franchise quarterback since Fran Tarkenton left. Coach Zimmer loves Teddy so he will probably get first shot at it, and we can afford to keep Sloter. Keenum and Bradford are probably gone.

  30. aypeeswhippingstick says:
    January 22, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    Vikings need a true heart transplant.
    )))))))))))))))))))
    Coming from a packer fan that lost one player and the team folded up twice in recent years that is pretty funny.First with Jordy, a move never seen before.A WR goes down and the team couldn’t win anymore. And then finally last year with Rodgers.

  31. Kirk Cousins is no franchise QB. He is just a guy who plays in a system based on a safe scripted check down offense. this guy, what fools gold, can’t even beat the TEAMS IN HIS DIVISION!!! Even when he has the situation set for him to prove it, he chokes. I mean and this is regular season we are talking about!!! All he does is pad his yards (and this is easy when you chose to pass ALL THE TIME). He knows that the very fact that he ensures he makes 4000 yards a year will put him in the top passing category and therefore he thinks he is some stud. NOT!!! He is exactly who his record says he is!! When you can’t even win in your own division, how are you supposed to be some franchise guy who can take on the AFC defensive powerhouses? He doesnt even beat playoff teams. This is such a joke for any team to pay this guy. Don’t equate passing yards to greatness. Some teams favor the run, others favor the run and the stats are going to reflect the style of play or system.

  32. Teddy Bridgewater “better late than never”!

    C’mon… that’s hardly fair. He leads the Vikings to the playoffs in 2015 and looks set for an even better season in 2016, and his knee gives out. If he comes back to the Vikings as the starter, he will continue to improve. He is only a few months older than Wentz after all.

  33. If it were up to me, I’d keep Bridgewater and try to develop Sloter. Bridgewater is the youngest, and he has more upside. Enough with bringing in vets with one foot out the door for short term fixes. Brees isn’t going anywhere. He’ll stay a Saint till he retires. Kirk Cousins is too expensive. All three QBs had solid years for the Vikings. What they need is a QB that can win them a SB, and Cousins hasn’t even won a playoff game. If the Vikings are considering Alex Smith, then they may as well keep Keenum. He’s younger, cheaper and a little braver than Alex. Eli Manning would be a good fit for the Vikings. Better line, better weapons. But now that Reese is gone, Eli may want to stick around and see if the new braintrust will do right by him. Bridgewater makes the most sense to me.

  34. Can’t see Minnesota going after any of the QBs listed. Best option is sign Keenum, keep or add draft picks and sign their own free agents. If the plan is to keep Keenum that might mean Minnesota promotes the new OC from within. If the plan is to sign someone new, the Vikings might hire the OC first. Would Keenum take less to stay in Minnesota?

  35. Reality check. Keenum had the best season at QB the Queens have seen since Favre in 09. The entire team played like crap yesterday. Wasn’t just Case. But Case has proven all season to be effective with the receivers they have. Offer him a reasonable $15-16m 2-3yr contract. Offer Teddy $5m 1yr deal and let him test the market. Not sure how many buyers there will be for a QB that was only beginning to become better than average before he blew out a knee. So the Vikes might end up with 2 solid QBs for under the price of what Cousins would cost. I’m not all that sure that Cousins is that much better then Keenum. Cousins might just be a solid QB in the Redskins system. He could be miserable outside it. Like Keenum was less than average backup before he went to MN. Sometimes the system matters. Foles wasn’t the Foles that played last night until last night. Keep that in mind before anointing him as the new must have Franchise QB. Wilson is a blast to watch. But he might be average on a different team. Favre looked like crap on the Jets and went to MN and had his best year with the Vikes the next season. So just getting someone from a different team doesn’t always equal success. Love the one you’re with. Resign Keenum. I’m guessing after years of making moving companies rich, he’d sign a reasonable contract to stay in MN.

  36. Last time I saw it takes a full team to win, not just a QB.. But the rules on hunting head coaches MUST be made to wait until after the Super Bowl. It was pitifully plain Pat Shurmers head wasn’t in planning the Vikings offensive game. His head was in New York and who he was going to hire as his assistants.

  37. lenthevikesfan says:
    January 22, 2018 at 6:14 pm
    Franchise Keenum and give Teddy a one year prove it deal. Tough end to a fun season. A little ( a very little ) comfort in knowing that the window is just opening for them.
    ____________________
    Just opening? They traded a 1st and a 4th two years ago because they believed the window was already open. 8-8. They were a miracle away from not winning a playoff game, but they did. And then got blown out. QB in flux, OC in flux, Dalvin Cook ACL tear. What happened to that defense?…… And it gets harder once guys start getting paid, just wait. Good core of players……but the window was as wide open this year as it will ever be (especially considering the Minny SB). The cap is in great shape, so let’s see what Spielman is made of. It will be interesting.

  38. we essentially get an extra first pick with Dalvin Cook coming back.
    ___________________
    Would you have drafted Dalvin Cook in the first round fresh off an ACL tear? Takes 2 years for most backs to get back to themselves (AD being a notable exception). So we’ll see.

  39. skawh says:
    January 22, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Is there a single “franchise QB” available? After Brady and Brees retire the NFL won’t have a single franchise QB worth watching. Brady dominates every year because the league doesn’t have franchise QB’s any longer

    You’re forgetting a guy named Aaron. As a Vikings fan I have to admit he is the best in the league, and that includes Brady. Put Rodgers on the Pat’s and they wouldn’t lose a game ever.

  40. Won’t matter who the QB is if we don’t have a great OC like Shurmer. Case threw a lot of completions to wide open receivers.

  41. What is a franchise QB? To me it’s not someone who just gets to the playoffs then looses every year, it’s someone who wins multiple super bowls. Isn’t that the name of this game or is being a bridesmaid good enough. Rodgers 1-SB Brees 1-SB Smith 0-SB Manning 2-SB. So because they won one
    super bowl in a 17-20 year career they are francise QB’s?

  42. shlort says:
    January 22, 2018 at 7:56 pm
    Keenum had success. Much of that success was padded by great team play. Especially on defense.

    I know people don’t understand how a defense can help an offense. We can use examples like Trent Dilfer and Kaepernick. Not good quarterbacks on their own, but given enough opportunity and they can shine
    ___________________________________

    They have been helping Brady win titles for years. While Brady is better

  43. What is a franchise QB? To me it’s not someone who just gets to the playoffs then looses every year, it’s someone who wins multiple super bowls. Isn’t that the name of this game or is being a bridesmaid good enough. Rodgers 1-SB Brees 1-SB Smith 0-SB Manning 2-SB. So because they won one
    super bowl in a 17-20 year career they are francise QB’s?

    ———————————————————–

    I don’t think the requirement to be a franchise QB is quite that high. It’s more than being a “starting QB,” but it is considerably less than “a future hall of famer.” A franchise QB is nothing more than a guy that you know is going to be the face of your franchise over the next few years and who you have every confidence is going to play well enough that you will compete. A guy like Bradford almost became a franchise QB, but has been injured too often and was bounced out of Philly. The Redskins can’t quite seem to pull the trigger on making Cousins their franchise QB, but if they ever do, he will be a franchise QB whether he ever wins a playoff game or not. A guy like Case Keenum, on the other hand, will probably never be a franchise QB, even though he already won a playoff game.

  44. In other words, a “franchise QB” is more than a mere stop-gap as a starter or an unproven rookie, but he also doesn’t have to be Dan Marino.

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