The Vikings are open to using the franchise tag in order to retain quarterback Case Keenum, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com goes a step further, noting it “would be beyond shocking” for Keenum not to receive the franchise tender.
Keenum, a career journeyman who inked a one-year, $2MM pact with Minnesota last offseason, posted the best season of his career in 2017 while leading the Vikings’ offense to a No. 5 finish in offensive DVOA. The soon-to-be 30-year-old ranked seventh in passer rating and ninth in adjusted net yards per completion during the 2017 regular season, and finished first in Football Outsiders‘ individual DVOA metric. Keenum, of course, will quarterback the Vikings in tonight’s NFC Championship Game against the Eagles.
The Vikings have the fifth-most cap space (about $57MM) of any NFL team in 2018, so the ~$23.3MM franchise tag is palatable for general manager Rick Spielman & Co. A franchise tender would also allow Minnesota to lock in Keenum for only a single season, alleviating any concerns that Keenum will turn back into a pumpkin during the course of a long-term deal. The Vikings have yet to enter extension discussions with Keenum or any of their other their pending free agent quarterbacks, a list that includes Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater.
Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is expected to accept the Giants’ head coaching position when Minnesota’s postseason run concludes, and while some reports have indicated Shurmur could bring Keenum along to his new destination, that now seems unlikely given that New York is expected to retain Eli Manning. Speculatively, the Bills could be a potential suitor given that they expressed interest in Keenum last offseason.
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