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Monday, February 19, 2018

4 Vikings Make ESPN's Top 50 Free Agent List

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    ESPN released it’s Top 50 Free Agent profile yesterday and perhaps not surprisingly, all three of the Vikings free agent quarterbacks make the list (as does running back Jerick McKinnon, who had the best year of his career in 2017). The Vikings were 13-3 for the first time in their history last season and whether or not they’ll be able to repeat that success depends on how they handle the quarterback situation that is equally unheard of for a franchise that has struggled to find a young, franchise quarterback since Fran Tarkenton retired. Seemingly everyday there’s a new take or rumor when it comes to which way the Vikings and their new offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo, go when it comes to the quarterback(s) they’ll have on roster next season, so let’s take a look at the ESPN rankings because it’s a slow news day and while this list is subjective and has nothing to do with the decision making process, can be used to see which QB the national media believes is the best out of three.

    The ESPN Free Agency List has the four Vikings listed as:

    5 – QB, Case Keenum

    18 -QB, Sam Bradford

    23 – QB, Teddy Bridgewater

    41 – RB, Jerick McKinnon

    While the article is for “Insiders” only, we are able to see the top two entries on the list and I’m sure you can guess who they are. The first is another quarterback that may end up wearing purple and gold next season in Kirk Cousins, of which the article says:

    After two years under the franchise tag, with combined earnings of nearly $44 million, Cousins is primed to experience a rarity for upper-level quarterbacks: a true bidding war for his services. He’ll set a new bar for NFL contracts.

    The next entry is Le’Veon Bell:

    After playing 2017 on the franchise tag, Bell told ESPN that he was prepared to sit out the coming season if he is tagged again. Time has a way of modifying such threats. If Bell signs a 2018 franchise tag, he would have earned more than $25 million over two years. But if he’s serious about his threat, it might be a rare opportunity to acquire a potential Hall of Fame player at the age of 26.

    It’d be great to see what they say about Keenum, Bradford and Bridgewater but it’s pretty easy to see why they ranked the Quarterbacks that way. While some may scoff at the way they rated Bradford over Bridgewater, the reality is that both have huge question marks when it comes to their health and that Bradford both has a lesser injury and a better track record as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Sure, Bradford very well may have a degenerative knee injury that could limit his ability to stay healthy for 16 games, but there’s just so few examples of people suffering (let alone returning) from the injury that Bridgewater suffered during practice before the 2016 season that it’d be hard for any team to really heavily invest in him. Beyond that, Teddy was still developing as a quarterback when he was injured and while he did look like he was ready to take the next step, that lack of tape combined with the fear that he’s just one hit away from not only losing his career but also his actual leg, means that he may not have a lot of suiters this off-season. Beyond that, the free agency market for quarterbacks may be the best it’s every been, with people like Cousins, the Vikings three and Tyrod Taylor being available. That means that the Vikings may be able to keep two of the three free agent QB’s, most likely in Bradford and Bridgewater, as they may cost less than one Kirk Cousins and could help off-set the injury history of both while having a true competition in the pre-season.

    When it comes to the running back position it’d be surprising if McKinnon is on the roster next season as he did have his best year as a pro this year, filling in for the injured rookie Dalvin Cook. With Cook set to return next year and Latavius Murray also on the roster as the thumper, there’s really no need for McKinnon to stick around (especially considering he’d have to take less money than he’s worth to do so). McKinnon has been an unsung hero for this Vikings team and he’ll always be part of the purple and gold, so while it’ll be sad to see Jet go, it’ll be great to see him rewarded for all of his hard work.

    Either way, it’s going to be an interesting off-season, so stay tuned to purplePTSD and our sister site, VikingsTerritory.com for everything Vikings!

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