On Tuesday morning, when the Vikings first welcomed media to this year’s offseason workout program, quarterback Sam Bradford was one of several key players trotted out for interviews. Meanwhile, stashed somewhere deep in Winter Park, one-time starter Teddy Bridgewater continued to furiously rehab his left knee.
With Bradford already anointed the 2017 starter in January, the Vikings don’t have a quarterback controversy as much as they have a quarterback quagmire.
They liked how Bradford played in 2016 and think he can be even better in 2017. But their willingness to commit to him beyond this season hinges on the long-term health of Bridgewater. And they still are waiting for clarity there.
“Nothing is concrete. No decisions have been made,” General Manager Rick Spielman said, adding that there is no timetable for the Vikings to pick a passer.
Bradford said Tuesday that “I don’t believe” the Vikings had reached out to his agent to start talks about a contract extension. And the uncertainty with Bridgewater, drafted in the first round in 2014 to be the Vikings’ quarterback of the future, might mean the Vikings let Bradford play out the final year of his deal.
If so, this would be the second time in three years that happened for Bradford, who in 2015 played out the final year of his contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, signed a new two-year deal after the season and then got traded to the Vikings months later when the Eagles decided to start Carson Wentz, their top draft pick last spring.
Despite being put in another awkward position, the 29-year-old former No. 1 overall pick insists he is not sweating how all of this eventually will play out.
“Honestly, I try not to think about it too much just because I don’t have a whole lot of control over it,” he said. “I come in here every day, trying to get better and be the best teammate and best quarterback I can be. And I think that’s all I can really do.”
Rhodes’ contract up next
The Vikings apparently are waiting to make a move with Xavier Rhodes, too.
The Pro Bowl cornerback, who also is in a contract year, said that as far as he knows contract talks between the team and his agent had not started. But the Vikings publicly have indicated that signing Rhodes to an extension will be a priority this offseason, and he seems to think a lucrative new contract is merely a formality.
“I feel like that’s going to come. That’s going to happen. As long as I continue to work hard and play hard and do the right thing, the contract is going to come,” he said.
Trade up is ‘unlikely scenario’
Since 2012, Spielman has traded up from the second round into the first three times. But this year, with the Vikings first on the clock at pick No. 48 in the second round, he said doing it again Thursday night is an “unlikely scenario at this point.”
“[It would be] pretty costly to go from where we’re picking in the second round,” he said. “But you never know if something will fall out of the sky that is just too good.”
While the Vikings don’t have a first-round pick this year, Spielman feels they still will be able to find good players in the second, third and fourth rounds, when they have five total picks. That’s another reason why the Vikings probably will stand pat.
“I think the depth of this draft class, especially at some of the areas we’ll be looking at, is very significant I think through the mid rounds,” Spielman said. “And for us to have an extra third and an extra fourth this year is going to pay dividends for us.”
Murray’s ankle coming along
New running back Latavius Murray, who had surgery on his right ankle days after signing with the Vikings in March, said he hopes to be cleared to practice by the start of training camp and that the rehab process “is coming along well right now.”
Murray said he dealt with the ankle injury last season, when he rushed for 12 touchdowns with the Oakland Raiders, and assumed it was “a banged-up ankle that I just kind of had to suck it up and play with.”
Murray got his ankle checked out after the season and learned he needed surgery. He said he was transparent about the injury with his suitors in free agency.