Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said recently that Minnesota will consider choosing a quarterback at some point in this year’s draft. That’s not exactly shocking considering plenty of teams regularly take late-round shots on QBs even if they have established star starters already on the roster. (The Patriots have been masters of this, giving them backup depth that can be flipped for higher picks down the road).
For the Vikings, though, the idea of drafting a quarterback also underscores just how unclear their long-term plans are at the most important position in the NFL.
Sam Bradford is coming off a solid season and has been anointed the starter after being acquired just before the start of last year. But he can be a free agent after this season, and as we discussed on this week’s Access Vikings podcast I’m a little surprised that there hasn’t been more discussion of a long-term extension for Bradford. Maybe the Vikings want to see how free agency plays out and what kind of cap space they have before worrying about an extension for a player under contract. The longer they wait, though, the more risk there is of more complicated negotiations (like the ones Washington is going through with Kirk Cousins).
The Vikings would probably like to know more about Teddy Bridgewater’s long-term health before making a decision on Bradford and any other future QB needs, but that might not be possible. Bridgewater faces a lengthy recovery, of course, from his devastating knee injury — and there isn’t any clear timeline for when (or if) he will be back on the field again.
That said, the Vikings are stacked on defense and built to contend now. So any quarterback they drafted would presumably be a project they would hope to groom. But again, they would be almost certainly be making that late April draft pick before they have any clarity about Bridgewater and perhaps before they have a long-term contract plan for Bradford. Any quarterback chosen this year, though, could be Bradford’s primary backup in 2017 if Bridgewater isn’t ready and the Vikings don’t sign a veteran backup comparable to Shaun Hill (who is a free agent this offseason).
The situation is hardly a crisis given that Bradford is under contract this season and he performed well after last year’s trade. But 2018 and beyond? That QB picture is murky yet again for a franchise that has been searching for more than a decade for a long-term solution.