While the official beginning of NFL free agency is March 14 at 4 PM ET, free agency really begins on March 12 when teams can contact the representatives of impending free agents to negotiate potential deals. In other words, we are exactly two weeks away from NFL free agency. Above all, this promises to be one of THE most dramatic free agent periods we’ve ever seen given the rather unprecedented game of quarterback musical chairs that’s about to commence. A team squarely in the center of that game is the Minnesota Vikings. With one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the NFL, the Vikings are widely viewed as a legitimate franchise QB away from winning their first ever Lombardi Trophy. But what exactly are their options at QB and why is this looming decision more complicated for the Vikings brass than many may initially think? Joining us to discuss the Vikings QB situation plus their plans elsewhere in free agency and the draft is Jordan Reid. Jordan is a big Vikings fan, a world-class NFL draft analyst and is a co-host of the “Climbing The Pocket” podcast.
- The way I see it, there are three basic outcomes for the Vikings at QB in 2018: a. Sign Kirk Cousins, b. re-sign Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater to team-friendly deals, c. re-sign Bridgewater to one-year “prove it” deal and target an established veteran free agent like Josh McCown as insurance. Which of those outcomes would you prefer the most and which of those outcomes is the likeliest to occur in your view?
- Speaking of Teddy Bridgewater, it remains uncertain whether he’ll even be a free agent at all. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noted over the weekend, since the CBA clearly states that if a player in the final year of his contract is physically unable to perform as of the sixth game of the season, the player’s contract will remain in place or “toll” for the following season. And since Bridgewater started the 2017 season on the PUP list, it is a possibility his contract tolls, forcing him to play 2018 under a $1.3 million salary. In other words, this is a very murky situation. How do you see this all playing out? Will they let him hit the market or be content to keep him for absolute peanuts?
- Another big factor that further complicates the Vikings looming decision at QB is that five key players are entering the final year of their rookie contracts: Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks and Trae Waynes (in the event they don’t pick up his fifth-year option). Of those five, who do you see getting extensions sometime this year? If the Vikings sign Kirk Cousins to a $25-$30 million per year deal, who among that five is likely headed out the door?
- Another key decision facing the Vikings is whether or not to exercise the option on Latavius Murray’s contract. The deadline for that decision is March 16. If they pick it up, Murray will count $6.35 million against the cap and be the fifth-highest paid RB in the NFL. And I think the decision boils down to this question: Are the Vikings 100% confident that Dalvin Cook will be full speed by September? And if the answer is “no”, do you keep Murray as insurance even at that salary or do you cut him and go after a cheaper option? Who are some cheaper options?
- Aside from QB, what are the main positions of need for the Vikings to attack in free agency and the draft?
- Regardless of who the Vikings QB is in 2018, Vikings fans have a lot to be optimistic about given the hiring of John DeFilippo as the new offensive coordinator. DeFilippo, who spent the past two years as Eagles QB’s coach, obviously played an invaluable role in helping Carson Wentz become a star and helping Nick Foles unexpectedly become a Super Bowl MVP. What makes him such a special coach and what are the central characteristics of his scheme?
- If you had to narrow the list down to 3-5 players for the Vikings to take with the 30th overall pick in the draft, who would they be and why? Do you see the Vikings trading up for someone like Lamar Jackson if a Bridgewater/McCown scenario comes to pass?
That’s it for today here on Sports Krunch. But we’ll be back later in the week with updates from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, so stay tuned! Be sure to check out the episode archive (including all the interviews I conducted at the Senior Bowl) as well as an up-to-date blog of mine at SportsKrunch.com!! And if you enjoy these podcast episodes please consider leaving us an iTunes review and donating to our Patreon at Patreon.com/SportsKrunch so we can improve our iTunes ranking and afford to produce even more shows with awesome guests like Jordan, especially since there is NEVER an “offseason” for talking football.
For Jordan Reid, our producer Chris Brodhead, I’m David Kromelow saying so long, and of course, stay awesome!!!
Jordan’s Twitter handle: @JReidDraftScout