Mike Zimmer didn’t leave much to be read between the lines when talking to local media Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. He was VERY blunt in his assessment of several subjects, including what the Vikings are thinking when it comes to their offseason QB conundrum.
If you’re waking up from a blissful winter hibernation and just now catching up to things, the last three Vikings seasons have featured three different primary starting QBs: Teddy Bridgewater in 2015, Sam Bradford in 2016 and Case Keenum in 2017. All three were on the roster last season, and all three are set to be free agents in less than two weeks.
So the question is whether the Vikings want to commit to one of those three guys or go after a big fish like Kirk Cousins in free agency. To that end, Zimmer’s comments were insightful.
We should pause here to note that this is not Zimmer’s decision to make, at least not alone. GM Rick Spielman, new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and perhaps even others will have a say on what they attempt to do, while the quarterbacks themselves can either chose to play in Minnesota or elsewhere.
I will also point out out that I’m not at the combine and the quotes I’m using are not the full transcript of what Zimmer said. Still, what appear to be Zimmer’s most interesting comments had far more of an edge to them than Spielman’s did Wednesday and could offer a lens into how he feels about what the Vikings should attempt to do long-term.
*If you’re in the camp that thinks the Vikings should go after Cousins, Zimmer seemed to pump the brakes on that. “I don’t want to talk about windows and things like that because I’m hoping it’s more than a window — I’m hoping it’s wide open spaces. … I think it’s really, really important that we understand — and I’m not just saying this — we’ve won 40 games in the last four years. We’ve done that by being pretty good on defense. … I want to be really careful about taking away from our strength and saying, ‘OK we’re not going to be able to do this and we’re not going to be able to do that anymore because of financial reasons or something else.’”
Cousins would easily be the most expensive option. If Zimmer is concerned about what a potential contract for Cousins would do to the team’s ability to maintain a stout defense and/or its ability to be competitive beyond a short-term window, that’s significant.
*The Case Keenum stuff was great for headlines, but it wasn’t wrong. It was just a little jarring to hear Zimmer say it so plainly: “Is he the guy when he was at Houston or the Rams or is he the guy who played for us? Is it because he had a good team around him?”
If Zimmer sees Keenum — who could be expensive himself — as risky from a performance standpoint, that’s significant.
*On Bradford: “His knee’s not great, obviously, right? It’s degenerative But it’s his history of being hurt. That’s the monkey wrench in the whole thing.”
If Zimmer doesn’t believe Bradford can stay healthy, that’s significant.
*On Bridgewater: “It’s really hard to evaluate just in practice. We have to go back a lot with Teddy on what he’s done in the past, him as a person, his work ethic, all those things. Him not playing for two years and not being able to see him play in live situations, that’s concerning a little bit. But I love the guy. He’s a great kid, great competitor, a winner.”
If Zimmer only sees Bridgewater’s two-year absence as “concerning a little bit” and surrounds that with platitudes about Teddy — who, let’s not forget, was the QB hand-picked a few months after Zimmer was hired — that seems significant as well.
It sure sounds to me like Zimmer is most comfortable taking his chances with Bridgewater on what would likely be a modest, incentive-laden contract that would allow the team to keep its top-notch defense intact. I’m not sure that’s the right answer or that’s how Spielman and/or DeFilippo feel, but I guess we’ll know soon enough how it all shakes out.