If you are looking for a defining date in this whole confusing and wonderfully speculative Vikings QB situation, try this one: Nov. 8, 2017.
Here in late February, any Vikings comments about Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford or Kirk Cousins are either held tightly like state secrets or — in the case of Cousins — would amount to tampering before NFL free agency begins March 14.
GM Rick Spielman did the delicate tap dance at the scouting combine Tuesday, saying a lot but not really saying anything (which is his specialty, and I mean that as a compliment).
But go back to Nov. 8, and you will find an 8-minute video clip of Vikings coach Mike Zimmer talking about all four quarterbacks.
On that date, the Vikings made it official that they were activating Bridgewater and putting Bradford on injured reserve. All we knew on Nov. 8 was that Keenum would start and Bridgewater would be the backup for the first Vikings game coming out of the bye — at Washington, quarterbacked by Cousins. Zimmer met with the media Nov. 8 and was peppered with quarterback questions.
• First, about Bradford's injury, he said, "We didn't expect it would be this long. … Nothing really changed, it just didn't get better." He was even asked bout Bradford's impending free agency, a reminder that at that point his return to Minnesota in 2018 wasn't too far-fetched. "It's really disappointing for him because he played so great in that first ballgame," Zimmer said.
• Second, he was asked about Bridgewater — who was returning to the active roster for the first time since his horrific injury in the 2016 preseason. "Really he hasn't had training camp, done anything," Zimmer said. "We're just trying to get him to where everybody feels comfortable. … For the most part, I thought he's thrown the ball well. … He's moving fine."
• When asked about his plan at starting quarterback beyond the Washington game, Zimmer said, "We're just going to go day to day and see how it goes." Later, when pressed a little more about the subject, Zimmer added, "Case has done great, so we'll just keep going from there and see how this thing plays out."
• Last but not least, Zimmer was asked to assess Cousins and the Washington offense he was about to go up against. "Cousins does a nice job of getting the ball out quick," Zimmer said. "They're an excellent play action team."
Keenum ended up throwing for 304 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-30 win over Washington, but he also threw two costly interceptions that almost helped Cousins — who was 26 of 45 for 327 yards, one TD and one INT — bring the Redskins all the way back.
Bridgewater was the backup that Sunday and ultimately only appeared briefly in mop-up duty in one game late in the season.
Bradford was activated for the playoffs ahead of Bridgewater — a sign his knee was at least healthy enough at that point to compete — but he never played.
On Nov. 8, it was anyone's guess as to who would be the Vikings' QB in 2018. The smart money was probably on Bridgewater, with Bradford a possibility and Keenum a longer shot.
Now it's still anyone's guess, with Keenum and Bridgewater the most likely of the in-house candidates even in light of this week's reports that the Vikings don't plan on using the franchise tag on Keenum and that Bridgewater will in fact be a free agent.
But the smartest money just might be on Cousins — the only quarterback Zimmer talked about that day who wasn't currently on the team.