The Minnesota Vikings are in a bad way at the moment, as they learned on Tuesday afternoon that starting quarterback Teddy Bridgwater would be lost for the season due to a devastating knee injury.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 31, 2016
Bridgewater reportedly fell to the ground during practice with a non-contact injury on Tuesday, cutting Minnesota’s team practice short at just 25 minutes. Bridgewater was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and sedated, where the team later learned he had suffered a dislocated knee and torn ACL.
The silver lining is Bridgewater did not suffer any other serious dame to his arteries or nerves, and the third-year passer is expected to make a full recovery.
Bridgewater is officially done for 2016, however, which naturally hinders Minnesota’s Super Bowl odds. Once a media darling, the Vikings may not even be in legit contention for the NFC North now that their quarterback situation is so murky. Career backup Shaun Hill is ready to slide into the starting role, but at 36 years old, it’s arguable he will either get hurt or falter early on.
Because of the current situation, Minnesota has to be considering alternative options. While they probably don’t want to make too crazy of a splash, as Bridgewater is their franchise quarterback, they also can’t just do nothing and waste an entire season. Let’s consider their five best options as they prepare for the start of the 2016 NFL season:
Trade For Josh McCown
Cleveland has continued to hold onto the savvy veteran for two reasons: they like him as a strong backup plan behind Robert Griffin III and they probably haven’t heard a trade offer they love yet. McCown is an expensive backup and has starter experience, so it would make sense for the Browns to unload him if someone offered a quality package.
Minnesota could be that team. Reports out of Dallas suggested the Cowboys (who saw Tony Romo go down recently) aren’t chasing McCown or other passers via trade. The Vikings probably should. McCown is as old as Hill, but provides far more upside in terms of athleticism, experience, awareness and arm strength. McCown also looked like a top-15 passer at times in 2015, but simply struggled to stay healthy.
In terms of potentially available backups that could actually solve Minnesota’s current dilemma, McCown takes the cake. The big question is whether or not the Browns are willing to give him up and if Minnesota is up for sacrificing a mid-round draft choice in an attempt to salvage their season.
Kick the Tires on the Sanchize
Denver didn’t think Mark Sanchez was the answer under center for them, but Minnesota could. Sanchez is more mobile than Shaun Hill and would probably withstand a beating a little bit better. He’s not the most accurate passer and turns the ball over, but he has experience and has made it to a conference title game twice before in his career.
Vikings are now searching for a QB to replace Teddy Bridgewater, and one name has jumped to the top of their list pic.twitter.com/NHRUWVBChT
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 31, 2016
With a terrific supporting cast, Sanchez could actually help get the Vikings by and might offer more upside through the air than anyone they currently have on the roster. Sanchez probably won’t get the Vikes to the Super Bowl, but he should do well enough to keep them afloat and give them a chance to make the playoffs, should he be acquired.
Bring in Johnny Football
This one comes out of left field, as the Vikings didn’t really seem to love Johnny Manziel back when they scouted him in the 2014 NFL Draft. He also has been as toxic as anyone, doesn’t seem to have his priorities right and is already suspended the first four games of the year due to substance abuse.
In addition, he’s still unproven on the field and bringing Manziel in could rub Bridgewater and his camp the wrong way.
All that being said, Manziel still has undeniable talent and untapped upside. In a good environment like Minnesota with strong talent, a good defense and quality coaching, he actually could have a chance to thrive and turn his career around. Minnesota probably won’t do it for all the reasons already mentioned, but if they’re upset that they’re isn’t a single quality option left in free agency, they’re just not covering all the bases.
Call Tampa Bay
Another backup that could make sense is Buccaneers passer, Mike Glennon. Glennon has starter experience and offers great size and arm strength. He isn’t getting Minnesota to their first ever title, but he really isn’t needed in Tampa Bay with Jameis Winston around and he still has some upside to his game. The Bucs also love third stringer Ryan Griffin and have been wanting to move Glennon for a while now.
Glennon could be the ideal add, too, as he’d be the starter for 2016, but wouldn’t be viewed as a real threat to Bridgewater’s job in 2017. Some of the aforementioned options might be.
Land Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick is even more toxic than Johnny Manziel right now – and that is not easy to accomplish. That being said, he has played in a Super Bowl, is still an elite athlete and still has the upside and talent to be a difference-maker. Some think he’s done in the league, but if he’s not, the Vikes have to consider him as one of the better options.
San Francisco has refrained from trading Kaepernick to this point, but if Minnesota produced the right offer, they’d surely listen.
There are a number of directions the Vikings could go. Numerous teams only carry two quarterbacks, so they could just wait for final cuts and have their pick of the litter. They probably want to be a little more proactive than that, of course, so it’s more likely than not that we’ll hear them swing a trade this week.
Other backup quarterbacks who could be at odds with their current team and could be worth a look include Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel and maybe even Aaron Murray. Geno Smith stands out the most as a guy who has some experience and even could potentially be a major steal. He flashed solid ability in the past with the New York Jets and could just need a change of scenery to get his career back on track. Thanks to a similar skill-set to Bridgewater, he could actually be the perfect stop-gap replacement.
Minnesota Vikings Prediction
Ultimately I doubt the Vikings do anything crazy like trade for Geno or Kaepernick or sign Manziel. Those guys all are talented and could offer some upside, but they also all are distractions and would combat the idea that Teddy Bridgewater is still the team’s future under center.
Instead, the likely scenarios are trades involving McCown, Sanchez or Glennon. It really does seem like the Browns want to hold onto McCown and Tampa Bay has also kept too steep of an asking price for Glennon. Sanchez is done in Denver and it’s only a matter of time before he’s cut or traded. With that being the case and Minnesota having an immediate need, look for the Vikings and Broncos to work something out to get Sanchez in Minnesota by the end of the week.