Free-Agent Setup: Vikings vexed by quarterback quandary

By The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 25, 2018 at 1:24 AM
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The Minnesota Vikings are in an unusual pickle for a team that went 13-3 and reached the conference title game a month ago. They ended the season with three quarterbacks who have significant value on the free agent market -- Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Case Keenum.

Keenum, the former journeyman quarterback who made a mere $2 million on a one-year deal in 2017, is a candidate for a $23 million franchise tag for 2018. All three of the team's experienced quarterbacks are set to become free agents, although there is some question as to whether Teddy Bridgewater's contract will toll into 2018.

That will depend on whether Bridgewater and the NFLPA can prove Bridgewater was medically able to play before Week 6 of last season. Either way, Bridgewater has not played a meaningful down of football since the 2015 season.

With Bradford expected to move on without the Vikings making an offer on the injury-prone veteran, that leaves Keenum as the player the Vikings might tag to prevent a total meltdown at the game's most vital position.

The Vikings have used the franchise tag only two times: linebacker Chad Greenway in 2011 and tight end Jim Kleinsasser in 2003. That's quite a payday for Keenum, a career backup with modest arm strength. But the Vikings have plenty of cap space and would have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal with Keenum.

The Vikings have 13 pending UFAs. Among those expected to return are kicker Kai Forbath and punt returner Marcus Sherels. Among those not expected to return besides Bradford are No. 3 running back Jerick McKinnon, linebacker Emmanuel Lamur, receiver Michael Floyd and soon-to-be 40-year-old cornerback Terence Newman. Defensive tackle Tom Johnson, 33, and guard Joe Berger, 35, might be brought back for one more year. Both are coming off a standout season in which they played all 18 games.

Unit-by-unit depth chart as of Super Bowl LII. Injured players listed as starters if that was their status when injured.

*Asterisk indicates player ended 2017 season on injured reserve.

QUARTERBACKS (A): Starter - Case Keenum (UFA). Backups - Sam Bradford (UFA), Teddy Bridgewater (UFA), Kyle Sloter.

RUNNING BACKS (C): Starters - *Dalvin Cook, FB C.J. Ham. Backups - Latavius Murray, Jerick McKinnon (UFA), *Bishop Sankey.

TIGHT ENDS (B): Starter - Kyle Rudolph. Backups - David Morgan, *Blake Bell.

WIDE RECEIVERS (A): Starters - Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs. Backups - Laquon Treadwell, Jarius Wright, Stacy Coley, Michael Floyd (UFA).

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (B): Starters - LT Riley Reiff, LG *Nick Easton, C Pat Elflein, RG Joe Berger (UFA), RT Mike Remmers. Backups - T Rashod Hill, G/T Jeremiah Sirles, G Danny Isadora, C Cornelius Edison, T Aviante Collins.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (A): Starters - DLE Danielle Hunter, DT Tom Johnson (UFA), NT Linval Joseph, DRE Everson Griffen. Backups - NT Shamar Stephen (UFA), DLE Brian Robison, DT Jaleel Johnson, DRE Stephen Weatherly, DRE Tashawn Bower, DT *Shariff Floyd.

LINEBACKERS (B): Starters - SLB Anthony Barr, MLB Eric Kendricks, WLB Ben Gedeon. Backups - WLB Emmanuel Lamur (UFA), MLB Kentrell Brothers, SLB Eric Wilson, LB *Shaan Washington.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (A): Starters - CB Xavier Rhodes, CB Trae Waynes, SS Andrew Sendejo, FS Harrison Smith. Backups - CB Terence Newman (UFA), CB Mackensie Alexander, CB Tramaine Brock (UFA), CB Marcus Sherels (UFA), S Jayron Kearse, S Anthony Harris.

SPECIAL TEAMS (C): K Kai Forbath (UFA), P Ryan Quigley, LS *Kevin McDermott, LS Jeff Overbaugh (UFA), KOR/PR Marcus Sherels (UFA), KOR Jerick McKinnon (UFA), KOR/PR Stacy Coley.

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