Back when it was still preposterous to think that Case Keenum was the Vikings' future, general manager Rick Spielman sat in a golf cart during training camp and pondered his quarterback options. Sam Bradford was warming up for practice and Teddy Bridgewater, rehabbing from major knee surgery, was watching. "We haven't made any decisions yet," Spielman said. "But we have plans in place to have that position taken care of."
The situation was complicated then, and Keenum made it even more so in the NFC championship game, when he threw two picks and lost a fumble in the blowout loss to the Eagles. Keenum, like Bradford and Bridgewater, is an impending free agent. An important piece of Spielman's plan involves the franchise tag, and if the league salary cap is $178.1 million in 2018, then the nonexclusive franchise tag for quarterbacks will be $23.3 million. Tagging a quarterback at that figure would give the player the leverage to ask for a long-term deal in excess of $25 million per year. With their respective injury histories, it would be hard to argue that either Bradford or Bridgewater deserves to make that much money.
After the Eagles debacle, it's difficult to imagine Keenum will get the tag either—which means Minnesota might have zero quarterbacks on its roster when free agency begins on March 14. "The way he was playing, he wasn't looking at $25-$30 million, but maybe $18-20," said one NFC personnel executive after the championship game. After tonight, he may have knocked himself down to an area that's between $10 million and $16 million. He's a nice backup who had a good run—and then had a bad night and showed his true colors."