The quarterback room for the 2018 Vikings could turn out to be the most cohesive workplace this side of Starkey Laboratories.
If General Manager Rick Spielman is able to complete all the moves that surely are going through that devious brain of his, Kevin Stefanski will have continued in the secondary role of quarterbacks coach, Case Keenum will be back on a cost-saving transition tag, and Teddy Bridgewater will be back for the same piddling salary of $1.354 million that he was paid in 2017.
The Vikings already gave their kick in the shins to Stefanski, a coach who has been with the organization since 2006. It was apparent for more than a week before the NFC title game that Pat Shurmur was going to depart as offensive coordinator to become the head coach of the New York Giants.
Spielman allowed his pals in the national media to go with the storyline that Stefanski was the No. 1 candidate to replace Shurmur. Then, the Vikings went to Philadelphia and the Eagles turned the NFL’s No. 1 defense into a confused mess in a 38-7 route.
Suddenly, Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer decided that the No. 3 guy in the Eagles’ offensive brain trust, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, had to be a mastermind. They went to Philadelphia, had a quick sitdown, and dropped Stefanski like a bad habit as the leading candidate to be the offensive coordinator.
When a guy has been around an organization for over a decade and the path to being a coordinator has been cleared, and you pass him by, a first-class organization would have allowed Stefanski to leave for a better opportunity.
That eliminates the Vikings, of course.
Stefanski had a year left on his contract, so Spielman blocked his attempt to join Shurmur as the Giants’ offensive coordinator.
The Vikings are being lauded by selected media lap dogs and much of Purple fandom for having added a raise to Stefanski’s salary for 2018. Hooray. The message to Stefanski remained that 12 years of work at Winter Park wasn’t as valuable on a resume as three hours of carnage in Philadelphia on Jan. 21.
My favorite part of the DeFilippo hiring is seeing him referred to as “Flip’’ on fan sites. You didn’t know who he was until a few days before the Super Bowl, and now he’s joined Phil Saunders as “Flip’’ in Minnesota sports nomenclature?
You members of the Vikings can-do-no-wrong club slay me.
As for Keenum, he became the quarterback after leading three scoring drives in the second half of a 20-17 victory in Chicago on Oct. 9. The Vikings went 10-1 after that and entered the NFC playoffs as the favorites to reach the Super Bowl in their home cathedral.
The Vikings were able to get Keenum on a cheap deal, and now it’s time for him to cash-in in bigly fashion. The two options had been advertised as: pay him handsomely for one year with the franchise tag, or let him leave as a free agent.
Now, the idea has surfaced of putting Keenum on a transition tag, which would give the Vikings the right to match another team’s offer.. The idea here would be to stifle the market – teams knowing they could make a deal for Keenum as their quarterback solution and wind up not getting him – and allow the Vikings to keep him for several million less than the franchise tag.
Anything to deal a short deck to a player … that’s the Vikings’ long-held philosophy with their uniformed workforce.
Pulling that stunt on Keenum would be less underhanded than getting the NFL to claim the Vikings have the right to “toll’’ Bridgewater’s contract. The fact that Spielman has been able to convince some media and most Vikings fans that this is all on the league – that the Vikings have nothing to do with an effort to carryover Teddy’s meager contract to 2018 -- is more preposterous nonsense.
Spielman manages to get away with this all the time. He never says anything of value for public consumption, and yet his prevarications are often taken as gospel. Amazing.
As I suggested in Tweetland, Bridgewater didn’t damage his knee skiing at Afton Alps; he damaged it working for his employer. A season of rehab is a season of football. He has spent four years working on a rookie contract, and he deserves the freedom that comes with being a free agent – either a solid deal from the Vikings, or the ability to find one elsewhere.
Yeah, those would be some upbeat quarterback meetings:
Stefanski, rejected from the important job and stifled in his chance go elsewhere; Keenum, stifled on the free market after finally becoming an NFL quarterback with value; and Bridgewater, completely robbed after working his way back from a devastating injury suffered on a practice field.
That would be the Vikings’ version of class, right there in a plush new meeting room in Eagan.