After the 2017 season, the Vikings ditched the quarterback who led them to a 13-victory season and a playoff win in favor of a much more expensive quarterback who would win only eight games and miss the playoffs.

So the Vikings blew it, right?

Well, yes. It's Rick Spielman's job to acquire good players and win games, and the 2018 season turned into a disaster relative to expectations. By the last game, the new quarterback, Kirk Cousins, was publicly demonstrating his predilection for blame-sharing, grandiosely teaching routes to his Pro Bowl receiver on the sideline.

Spielman, the Vikings' general manager, signed Cousins to a three-year deal worth a guaranteed $84 million and can do little more than hope Cousins will miraculously improve as a leader and clutch performer over the next two seasons.

Blaming Spielman for the signing and Cousins for his play and behavior is easy at this point.

What's difficult is figuring out what the Vikings should have done instead.

Spielman had these choices after last season ended:

A. Re-sign Case Keenum.

B. Sign Cousins.

C. Sign Teddy Bridgewater.

D. Sign Sam Bradford.

E. Acquire a quarterback who might perform similarly to Keenum but would not require the $36 million over two years Keenum received from Denver. The Browns got Tyrod Taylor for a third-round draft pick while he had one year remaining on his contract.

F. Draft a quarterback and hope he could develop quickly.

G. Sign Colin Kaepernick and accept the national attention that would arrive with him.

Let's take them case by case.

A. The Vikings' brain trust was right about Keenum. They didn't feel Keenum could sustain his success, and he didn't.

He signed with Denver, reverted to the player who had been an NFL journeyman, threw 15 interceptions, led his team to a 6-10 record, missed the playoffs and contributed to his coach getting fired.

This would have been the wrong answer.

B. The Vikings signed Cousins and privately must regret it.

This, to date, has turned out to be the wrong answer.

C. This sounds intriguing now, but the Vikings were right to wonder whether Bridgewater could be a championship-caliber quarterback while returning from a severe knee injury.

At the time, this would have been the wrong answer.

D. Bradford lasted three games as the Cardinals' starter. This would have been the wrong answer.

E. The Vikings would have been roasted for trying to save money on Keenum by signing someone who hadn't proved himself in Minnesota.

This would have been the wrong answer.

F. The Vikings would rightly have been roasted for trying to develop a quarterback with a win-now roster.

This would have been the wrong answer.

G. I'm on record as saying that Kaepernick has been wrongly blackballed from the league in favor of dozens if not hundreds of inferior quarterbacks, but this would have been an awkward fit — bringing in a quarterback who hasn't played since 2016 to take over a team that went to the NFC title game. He also would have made Mike Zimmer, if not Spielman, constantly uncomfortable with his activism.

This would have been an intriguing football decision that the Vikings were never going to seriously consider.

Here's the problem with criticizing Spielman for signing Cousins:

We can't offer a clearly better alternative.

The best case anyone outside the organization can make is that the Vikings could have played it safe, re-signed Keenum and hoped that increased familiarity would lead to him performing as well in the regular season and better in the playoffs in 2018.

I'm not buying it.

The best aspect of signing Keenum would have been getting him at a lesser price and for fewer years than Cousins. He may not have fared much better as a quarterback, but he would have fared far better as a risk-reward calculation.

Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. •