Sep. 26, 2016
What should the Vikings do at quarterback?
The Minnesota Vikings received disappointing news on Friday that their franchise quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, will miss the entire 2017 NFL season. Bridgewater missed all of the 2016 season after suffering a devastating knee injury during training camp. He suffered a non-contact injury that included an ACL tear, a dislocated knee joint and other structural damage.
The Vikings proceeded to trade for Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles to be the starter in 2016. Bradford played well, finishing with a 99.3 passer rating, 3,877 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. However, the Vikings finished their season only 8-8. Given Bradford’s history of failure and Bridgewater's health being uncertain, what should the Vikings’ plan be at quarterback?
Bradford is under contract through next season and will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2017 season. Ideally, the Vikings would want Bridgewater as their quarterback this season, but that is almost certainly not going to happen. Before Bridgewater's’ injury he was viewed as the long term solution at quarterback. However, a knee injury like the one Bridgewater suffered can end careers. Even if he can return in 2018, there’s no guarantee he can be effective again.
Having Bradford for the upcoming season is nice, but he should not be the long-term solution. Despite entering his seventh NFL season, Bradford is still relatively young at only 29 years old. Although Bradford himself has had to deal with injury issues in the past. Statistically, Bradford had a career year last season. It was only the second time that he had a passer rating over 90 and his career passer rating is still only 84.5.
It’s very possible that Bradford’s past injury issues arise again or his stats return to career norms. If either happens the Vikings will find it very hard to win games. Despite that, Bradford knows the offense and is better than any free agent quarterback. Assuming Bridgewater returns healthy and effective is not smart and Bradford shouldn’t be the long term answer, so the draft makes logical sense.
The problem Minnesota has is that it traded away its first round draft pick to get Bradford. The Vikings first pick in the upcoming draft won't be until pick 46. At that point, the best quarterbacks in this draft class will already be gone. Any quarterback available at pick 46 would likely not be a franchise changing type player so the Vikings should use that pick to fill voids elsewhere. Minnesota could try to trade up. Names that might make sense for the Vikings would be DeShaun Watson and Mitch Trubisky as it seems less likely that either QB is a top then draft pick.
What the Vikings should do is hold out through this next season. If Bradford plays well again, then maybe the Vikings really did fix Bradford and he could be a long term solution, but that seems unlikely.
If Bradford regresses or the team is poor again, then drafting a quarterback with their first round pick in 2018 makes much more sense. Bradford will be a free agent after this upcoming season and if Bridgewater can return in 2018, he can be the starter. If it's obvious that he can perform at a high level anymore, the quarterback the Vikings draft in 2018 can take over. Names that might be floated around for the Vikings in that draft may include USC quarterback Sam Darnold and UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen If the Vikings are set against drafting a QB, then an option such as Kirk Cousins may be an answer. Cousins will become a free agent after the 2017 season.