Moments before undrafted rookie Joel Stave — suddenly the Vikings’ No. 2 quarterback — started against the Los Angeles Rams in the preseason finale at U.S. Bank Stadium, General Manager Rick Spielman resolutely vowed to address his uncertain quarterback situation rapidly but responsibly.
Spielman insisted the Vikings have complete confidence in 36-year-old Shaun Hill, who is expected to be their Week 1 starter after they lost Teddy Bridgewater to a season-ending knee injury. But Spielman also said the Vikings hope to add another quarterback by Monday, when they will begin their preparations for the Sept. 11 opener against the Tennessee Titans.
“All our options are open right now,” he said before Thursday’s 27-25 win.
Well, except for trying to lure Brett Favre out of retirement one more time.
“I think the gold [Hall of Fame] jacket put the seal on that one,” he joked.
Spielman and the team’s pro scouting staff spent much of the past two days holed up in their offices at Winter Park evaluating quarterbacks who might be available, whether it is via a trade or potential roster cuts this weekend. While offensive coordinator Norv Turner prefers pocket passers, they have kept an open mind about the possibilities from a schematic standpoint.
After all, with a strong defense led by head coach Mike Zimmer and All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson still going strong at 31, the Vikings can again be a playoff team if they pick the right quarterback to run the offense.
Still, losing Bridgewater, who had a strong preseason and seemed poised to break out in his third season, was a devastating blow for their title hopes.
Bridgewater dislocated his left knee, tore his anterior cruciate ligament and suffered other structural damage in a freak noncontact injury during Tuesday’s practice. Spielman said the full extent of the damage and a specific recovery timetable won’t be known until he undergoes surgery. The quarterback will choose a surgeon in the next day or two, Spielman added.
“[One thing] he’s got going for him is Teddy is a young, 23-year-old guy. You’re not talking about a 34-year-old guy,” Spielman said. “So we expect a full recovery from Teddy. I know we have to get through the surgery and get through the rehab and we look forward to just getting him back.”
Bridgewater was released from the hospital Thursday and stopped by Winter Park to go through his options with team officials. He also handed the public relations staff a handwritten statement to release to the public. It closed: “I come from amazing DNA, I watched my mom fight and win against breast cancer. We will, as a team, attack my rehab with the same vigor and energy. My faith is strong, my faith is unwavering and my vision is clear. My purpose will not be denied.”
Spielman said Bridgewater was in good spirits and is determined to return.
“I don’t think anyone [doubts] how Teddy’s going to attack this thing and come back even better,” Spielman said. “You saw Adrian and what he did in , and hopefully we’re talking about Teddy the same way next year.”
Spielman indicated that Hill, who has started just eight games the past five seasons, will get the first crack at replacing Bridgewater this year.
“I don’t think any of our coaches believe that Shaun Hill can’t get us to where we’re going. Our expectation is still the same,” Spielman said, adding, “We also have to do our due diligence to make sure who that backup is.”
Stave -- currently second on the depth chart with Taylor Heinicke still on the mend after foot surgery -- went 9-for-18 for 76 yards against the Rams, who sacked him twice and hit him five other times before he exited the game in the second quarter due to a hand injury. Stave’s performance in training camp and the preseason suggested he is not ready to assume that No. 2 role.
Brad Sorensen, who replaced Stave on Thursday, is not a roster candidate.
Final roster cuts loom Saturday, so the Vikings could wait to see if they can add a quarterback without trading away an asset.
But Spielman also has been working the past three days to see if any competent quarterbacks might be made available in a trade. Spielman said the Vikings could look to acquire another quarterback with starting experience or a young veteran with upside, perhaps one they liked when scouting previous drafts but circumstances prevented them from picking.
Zimmer said after the win that he mostly will let Spielman and the pro scouting staff scour through the quarterbacks until they narrow down their options.
“Rick runs everything by me. He talks to me about those [decisions],” Zimmer said. “The scouts do most of the tape work and things like that. But if there’s guys we start getting interested in, he has me look at them.”
Spielman said some of the early trade demands from fellow general managers have been laughable and that the Vikings will not trade away a premium draft pick or one or more of the promising young players for a quick QB fix.
“People are asking for some crazy things,” Spielman said. “People think that you’re desperate. And we’re not going to do something that — in my estimation and [after] talking with Coach Zim and our ownership — puts us in a situation where we jeopardize the future of this franchise.”
Informed of Spielman’s statement that he hoped to bring in another arm by Monday, Hill said he was concerned only with doing the best job he can.
“I haven’t thought about it and I probably won’t think about it,” Hill said. “All I can do is every single day bring it, bring everything I have. That’s my focus.”