Case Keenum had a heck of a run as the Minnesota Vikings’ starting quarterback, posting an 11-3 record as a starter and leading the team to an appearance in the NFC Championship Game. But if Keenum is going to cash in on his 3,547-yard, 22-touchdown season with a big payday, it looks like it will have to come elsewhere.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports the Vikings aren’t expected to use the franchise tag to retain their most successful starting quarterback from the 2017 season.
Keenum posted a 98.3 passer rating in 15 games (14 starts) in relief of Sam Bradford. If you’ll recall, Bradford played in just who played in just two games because of a knee injury he sustained in Week 1 that turned out to be a lingering issue throughout the year. Bradford was the team’s starter because Teddy Bridgewater was still recuperating from a devastating knee injury that kept him on injured reserve for the better part of two seasons. All three quarterbacks are eligible to become free agents when the new league year opens up on March 14.
Three starting-caliber quarterbacks could leave Minnesota this offseason, but that would open up the door for the Vikings to make a big splash in free agency.
“The Minnesota Vikings are going to be players for Kirk Cousins. I have been told that by numerous sources,” NFL Network insider Mike Garafolo reported on Monday. “I’m not saying they’re going to land him. I do believe they have a great pitch to make to him. The Minnesota Vikings are going to make a strong push for Kirk Cousins … do not sleep on the Vikings.”
OverTheCap.com’s calculations show the Vikings don’t have as much cap space as the Cleveland Browns ($110.1 million) or New York Jets ($73.2 million), but Minnesota appears to have the 10th most salary cap space in the NFL. The site estimates the team has $49.1 million in cap space, which is a few million short of the Bears, who check in with an estimated $51.6 million in cap room. The Vikings’ cap flexibility and status as a team coming off a competitive season makes them a viable landing spot for Cousins should they choose to make a competitive offer.
If Cousins wants to win, the best opportunity to do so right away might come with Minnesota. The defending NFC North champions can boast a top-10 defense and one of the top pass-catchig duos in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. If running back Dalvin Cook can return to form after a season-ending knee injury, the Vikings could be the class of the division once again.
Of course, Jordan Howard and Co. might have something to say about that when games of consequences resume later in 2018.