Sam Bradford has already been named the Vikings starting quarterback for next season, but the future of the position beyond 2017 remains “in flux,” as General Manager Rick Spielman told a small group of reporters on Thursday.
“Everything is in flux right now,” Spielman said. “I’ll just leave it at that.”
Don’t look for Spielman to tip his hand, but a new deal for Sam Bradford could be on the horizon given the uncertainty of Teddy Bridgewater’s recovery and the effusive praise of the 29-year-old Bradford from both head coach Mike Zimmer and Spielman. Currently, the Vikings do not have a quarterback under contract for the 2018 season.
“I can tell you looking back on that trade with all the other options,” Spielman said, “I would do that over in a millisecond to get Sam Bradford on our football team with the circumstances we were dealing with.
“I think he’s just right now in the prime of his career.”
Meanwhile, the Vikings just hope Bridgewater can resume his playing career. Spielman called it “totally unfair” to assign months or years to Bridgewater’s physical rehab, saying only that “everybody’s hoping” he’ll be able to return to full strength on a football field at some point.
Facing a deadline in early May, the Vikings may have to make a decision on whether to pick up Bridgewater’s fifth-year option before knowing much more about his playing future.
“He’s in the process of working through his motion,” Spielman said. “I know he’s doing specific things in rehab to get him back to being functional. When he’s going to be ready for football, dropping back and things like that — I think that’s still to be determined.”
AP ‘always a Viking’
Adrian Peterson’s contract is nearing the March 8 expiration date unless the Vikings exercise a lofty $18 million option for next season. The sides have yet to convene, Spielman said.
“Until I talk to Adrian and talk to his agent, I’m not going to announce anything,” Spielman said. “But that will get addressed here before free agency starts.”
The Vikings are not expected to pick up Peterson’s option, which could make the former NFL MVP a free agent for the first time at 31 years old. In the same setting, Spielman lauded the 2017 NFL Draft’s running back class as “the strongest I’ve ever seen.”
“If we don’t exercise that option, we always will keep the door open on all of our players,” Spielman said. “But in my mind, regardless of whether Adrian is here or not here next year because of whatever happens, he will always be a Minnesota Viking.”
The Vikings felt good about Matt Kalil heading into his fifth NFL campaign, before a torn labrum in his hip derailed the left tackle’s season.
So where does that leave Kalil, the pending free agent, and the tackle-needy Vikings? Spielman didn’t get into specifics, but he sounded open to a reunion this offseason.
“We have a plan in place on everything,” Spielman said. “But I also know I have a pretty good history of trying to keep our own guys as well.”
Floyd ‘under contract’
Spielman stayed mum about the future of another first-round pick, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, only to say that “he is under contract.”
Floyd, who missed 15 games last season due to another knee injury, will have a fifth-year option worth more than $6 million fully guaranteed if he’s on the roster March 9.
“When he is healthy, he’s a pretty good player,” Spielman said. “Our defense played well last year, but we did miss Sharrif, because when he is healthy he’s a significant part of our defense and can make a difference in games when he’s in there.”
A hopeful final eye surgery for Mike Zimmer is still scheduled for April, which is expected to remove the oil bubble that has held his repaired retina in place since his most recent operation Dec. 2.
Then Zimmer should be able to put the final piece of 2016 behind him.
“He will get his eye surgery done in April and hopefully that will resolve everything,” Spielman said.
Greenway decision soon
Spielman expects linebacker Chad Greenway to make a formal announcement about his pending retirement before the beginning of free agency March 9.
Greenway, 34, wrapped up his 11th season with the Vikings last year and is expected to retire as one of the franchise’s all-time leading tacklers. Greenway has already been tabbed as the ‘volunteer ambassador’ for Minnesota’s Super Bowl Host Committee for 2018’s big game.
Two coaches added
The Vikings officially announced hires in receivers coach Darrell Hazell and assistant strength and conditioning coach Derik Keyes to the staff.
Hazell, the former Purdue head coach, takes over for George Stewart, who took a pay raise as the Chargers special teams coordinator this offseason. Keyes most recently held the same position with the Browns for the past four seasons.