With Case Keenum intending to sign with the Broncos and Drew Brees staying with the Saints, the Vikings won’t have in 2018 a guy who started 14 regular-season games (winning 11 of them) and two playoffs games (winning one) in 2018. So as Keenum and Brees exit the picture (Brees was never really in it), who enters?
My own loose sense is that the Vikings never made a serious play to keep Keenum , perhaps indicating that coach Mike Zimmer’s chronic ambivalence toward him in 2017 wasn’t aimed merely at coaxing a better performance out of him. The organization simply didn’t believe in Keenum enough to keep him from changing teams.
So where does that leave Minnesota? Let’s look at the options.
1. Kirk Cousins: It’s down to the Vikings and the Jets. If the Jets win, the Vikings could be screwed. The question ultimately will be whether the Vikings are close enough to the Jets financially to allow Cousins to take less to go to a “better” team. The range very well could be $2.4 million, with the Jets at $30 million per year and the Vikings at $27.6 million, $100,000 annually more than Jimmy Garoppolo‘s current high-water-mark deal.
2. AJ McCarron: Unproven with only four career starts, he may not be a guy who would be the difference between making it to the Super Bowl and not. Then there’s the question of what he wants. If it’s close to what Keenum is getting, they should have just kept Keenum.
3. Sam Bradford: Zimmer said two weeks ago that Bradford has a degenerative knee. That’s not good, either as to the fact that he has it or as to the fact that Zimmer specifically said it.
4. Teddy Bridgewater: Speaking of problematic knees, Bridgewater has been out of action for most of the last two years because of a torn ACL. If the Vikings thought he was the answer, he possibly already would have been signed.
5. Nick Foles: Yes, Nick Foles. Former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo now runs the offense in Minnesota, and if the Vikings don’t get Cousins, why not go after Foles? Here’s one reason: The Eagles already got a first- and fourth-round pick out of the Vikings for Sam Bradford. Here’s another: There’s no reason to think Foles will definitely be the guy in Minnesota that he was for a handful of games in Philly.
6. Josh McCown: Peter King recently described McCown as “better than competent” in 2017, something we all aspire to be. If every other external option is exhausted, would a healthy McCown be better than Bradford and Bridgewater as damaged goods? Maybe.
7. Jay Cutler: Yes, he’s available. And, again, a healthy Cutler may be better than entrusting the job to guys with bad knees.
However it plays out, the relatively quick decisions by Keenum and Brees highlights that the clock is ticking loudly. The Vikings need to have a plan, and to implement it sooner than later.