Case Keenum

Sam Bradford To Be No. 2 QB

Sam Bradford was activated from IR yesterday, and today ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen reports that Bradford will serve as Case Keenum‘s backup for the Vikings’ divisional round matchup against the Saints this afternoon (Twitter link). Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer has never activated three quarterbacks, so it is likely that Teddy Bridgewater will be inactive for the contest.

Sam Bradford (Vertical)

Bradford started the Vikings’ first game of the 2017 season and performed well in leading his team to a convincing win over — coincidentally enough — the Saints. But he has not played in a full game since that opening contest, and as Bridgewater was continuing to recover from last season’s ACL injury, Keenum was given the chance to show what he could do.

He did not disappoint. He went 11-3 as a starter, led the Vikings to the No. 2 seed in the NFC, and set himself up for a big payday in the coming months. Like Keenum, Bradford and Bridgewater will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, so Minnesota will have some very interesting decisions to make when their season is over.

Mortensen also tweets that, on November 7, Bradford visited Dr. James Andrews to have his left knee cleaned out and a bone spur shaved. As a result, the pain in his knee is not nearly as severe as it was prior to the surgery. Apparently, he feels good enough and has played well enough since returning to the practice field earlier this month to serve as Keenum’s backup in a playoff contest.

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NFC Notes: Vikings, Cards, Packers, 49ers

For the first time all season, the Vikings will have all three of their quarterbacks healthy when they host New Orleans on Sunday. Even with the return of Sam Bradford and the health of Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum “is the guy” reports Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

This should come as no surprise, as Keenum has been among the league’s top signal-callers since taking over for Bradford early in the season. The question, however, will be if the team wants to have all three suit up on Sunday. Florio’s sources say that won’t be determined until right before kickoff. Florio thinks untimely concussion evaluations could play into the decision.

Regardless of the decision, Keenum will have as long a leash as possible as the starter. The sixth-year quarterback enjoyed a breakout campaign, throwing for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns while posting a stellar 98.3 passer rating. It is unknown at this time if Bradford will leapfrog Bridgewater for the backup role.

Here is more from around the NFC:

  • Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is the perfect candidate for the Cardinals head-coaching vacancy, AZ Central’s Dan Bickley writes. Bickley notes Shurmur’s ability to get the most out of his quarterback as the underlying factor. He also thinks the hiring of Shurmur would ensure the return of Larry Fitzgerald. The hiring, however, would go in opposition to former head coach Bruce Arians’ wishes that defensive coordinator James Bettcher get the job.
  • Packers head coach Mike McCarthy reportedly met with team president and CEO Mark Murphy and expressed concerns Russ Ball wouldn’t be aggressive in free agency, USA Today’s Pete Dougherty reports. The meeting in theory caused Murphy to not promote Ball to general manager after Ted Thompson left the spot. Dougherty has doubts that the meeting had any impact on the situation. He also laid out another theory that Murphy preferred Brian Gutekunst all along for the job.
  • There is confidence on both sides that the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo will strike a deal, NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco writes. If the sides don’t reach an agreement, it’s almost a guarantee that the quarterback will be franchised. After leading the Niners to wins in each of his first five starts, Jimmy G is a safe bet to be the QB in San Francisco for a long time.

Case Keenum Drew Interest From Bills, Bears

The rise of Case Keenum has been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season. Vaulted into the Vikings’ starting quarterback job out of necessity, Keenum outperformed some of the league’s biggest names and guided the Vikings to a 13-3 record. It turns out that Keenum could have been another team’s diamond in the rough instead. "<strong

The Bears and Bills both expressed interest in the QB, Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report writes. However, Keenum says that he chose the Vikings because they showed a greater desire to sign him.

The Bills’ previous interest in Keenum is particularly notable as they still face uncertainty under center. Tyrod Taylor is due a $6MM roster bonus on Day 3 of the 2018 league year and stands to earn $10MM in base salary. Now that offensive coordinator Rick Dennison has been shown the door, the Bills could further overhaul the offense by moving on from the 28-year-old (29 in August).

Meanwhile, some believe that Keenum will arrive with Pat Shurmur as a package deal if Shurmur gets a head coaching job. That could appeal to both the Cardinals and Giants.

In 2017, Keenum ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 9 QB, slotting him ahead of Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford, and Kirk Cousins. Keenum’s 67.6% completion percentage was the second-highest in the NFL, trailing only Drew Brees.

Keenum will look to continue his improbable success story with a win over the Saints on Sunday in the divisional round.

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Pat Shurmur Could Bring Case Keenum If Hired As HC

Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is one of the more sought-after head coaching candidates this year, and as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes, one of the reasons for that is that he could bring current Vikings QB Case Keenum with him.

Case Keenum (vertical)

Shurmur has interviewed with four different clubs already, and two of those teams — the Cardinals and Giants — could be classified as “quarterback-needy.” Keenum, of course, is one of this season’s feel-good stories, stepping in for the injured Sam Bradford to lead Minnesota to a first-round bye. He is 11-3 as a starter this season, completing 67.6% of his passes, throwing for 22 touchdowns against just seven interceptions, and posting a 98.3 quarterback rating in the process.

Luckily for Keenum, and for teams in search for a quarterback, the Houston product will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. As Schefter writes, Keenum and Shurmur have developed a close working relationship and think very highly of each other, leading league sources to believe that the two men could depart Minnesota as a package deal.

The Vikings will take on the winner of today’s Saints-Panthers matchup next week.

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NFC North Notes: Vikings, Keenum, Packers

The Vikings still have not opened extension talks with pending free agent quarterback Case Keenum, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Previous reports have indicated general manager Rick Spielman & Co. won’t discuss contracts with any of their free agent signal-callers until the season concludes, and that stance has not changed, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Indeed, Keenum may require a franchise or transition tag in order to not hit the open market, several executives tell La Canfora. Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Bradford are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next spring, meaning the Vikings will have several decisions to make over the coming months.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • While the Packers have certainly struggled without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the club isn’t expected to make wholesale changes during the offseason, reports Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. However, defensive coordinator Dom Capers could take the fall after leading a defense that ranks just 19th in DVOA. If Capers is fired, one candidate to take over Green Bay’s defense may be current Bears DC Vic Fangio, per Pelissero. Fangio, whose contract expires after the 2017 season, has Chicago’s defense at 14th in DVOA (with arguably less talent than the Packers possess).
  • Capers isn’t the only Packers staffer who could leave the team this offseason, as director of football operations Eliot Wolf is once again drawing general manager interest. While Wolf has long been viewed as an in-house replacement for current GM Ted Thompson, Wolf is reportedly growing impatient and is ready to “branch out,” sources tell Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Wolf, who was tied to the 49ers and Colts general manager vacancies a year ago, was most recently linked to the Giants GM gig.
  • Although Vikings long snapper Kevin McDermott‘s dislocated shoulder is likely to sideline him for the final game of the regular season, he’s expected to be available for the playoffs, per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (Twitter links). McDermott, who will not require surgery, had his shoulder popped back in place last night. Meanwhile, Minnesota will need a long snapper for their Week 17 contest against the Bears, and the club plans to audition free agent Justin Drescher on Tuesday, per Tomasson. Drescher has appeared in 110 career games, including eight with the Cardinals earlier this year.

Vikings, Case Keenum Haven’t Discussed Extension

Although Case Keenum has led the Vikings to a 9-2 record while posting the best statistical season of his career, Minnesota has not opened extension talks with the veteran quarterback, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.Case Keenum (vertical)

The Vikings are facing a free agent predicament in 2018, as Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Bradford are all scheduled to hit the open market next spring. However, general manager Rick Spielman & Co. have no plans to work out new deals with any of those signal-callers until the 2017 campaign comes to a close, per Florio.

Depending on how the remainder of the season plays out, the 29-year-old Keenum could potentially be in for a contract that pays him $15MM annually, a significant bump over his 2017 base salary of $2MM. The Vikings could theoretically deploy the franchise tag on Keenum, but that tender will likely come with a cost north of $22MM.

Minnesota could also be forced to hire another offensive coordinator this offseason, as incumbent Pat Shurmur may draw head coaching interest in the coming months. Such a change could affect the Vikings’ preferences at quarterback, and could also add competition for Keenum, as Shurmur would presumably make a run at Keenum if he lands another head job.

Keenum, who had notably struggled for the majority of his NFL career, has now posted 14 touchdowns against only five interceptions this season, and ranks among the top-10 in both quarterback rating and adjusted net yards per pass attempt.

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Keenum Set To Cash In During Offseason

Vikings quarterback Case Keenum is due for a substantial raise in the 2018 offseason that could earn him in the neighborhood of $15 MM per year, writes Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer PressCase Keenum (vertical)

The figure comes from salary cap analyst Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com and is based on the contract Mike Glennon signed in the 2017 offseason with the Bears. Should Keenum command the Vikings on a deep playoff run, Fitzgerald says that figure could rise to as much as $18 MM.

“If you have an arm and can throw a little bit, there’s such a scarcity of talent at the position and I think there’s a lot of worries about guys coming in from college unless you’re looked at as a super prospect and are going to be picked in the top five of the draft,’’ Fitzgerald told Tomasson.

The first name on our list of the 10 best one-year deals of 2017 from earlier this month, Keenum has significantly outperformed his $2 MM contract while commanding the Vikings to the top of the NFC North. Signed as an afterthought behind starter Sam Bradford and with the return of Teddy Bridgewater looming, the journeyman signal-caller has powered Minnesota to a 7-2 mark as the team’s starter and delivered another win in relief of Bradford in Week 5 vs. Chicago.

Fitzgerald notes that a lot will depend on the end of the season. With head coach Mike Zimmer unwilling to commit to Keenum the rest of the campaign, that figure could fall should the University of Houston product slip up down the stretch.

 

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Vikings To Stick With Keenum At Atlanta

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters Case Keenum will receive another start when the team travels to take on the Falcons, Courtney Cronin of ESPN reportsCase Keenum (vertical)

Despite throwing for at least 280 yards in four consecutive games and riding a six-game win streak as the starter, the veteran quarterback’s status as the No. 1 signal-caller is on a week-to-week basis. Though Teddy Bridgewater is on his way back from his long hiatus, it would make no sense to pull one of the league’s hottest quarterbacks in favor of someone who hasn’t played in almost two years.

Since starting in a 23-10 win over Green Bay in Week 6, Keenum has posted a 95.4 passer rating and thrown for 1,581 yards and 10 touchdowns. With the Vikings battling for home-field advantage in the postseason, don’t expect a change under center anytime soon unless Keenum has a misstep in the coming weeks.

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NFC Notes: Keenum, Floyd, Fitzgerald, Vaccaro

After stopping a surging Rams team in their tracks today, the Vikings stand at 8-2 and clearly are one of the best teams in the NFL, thanks in large part to the play of third-string quarterback Case Keenum. The 29 year-old backup has performed past all reasonable expectations when he was needed to hold down the fort for the injured Sam Bradford just until former first round pick Teddy Bridgewater returned from injury. However, Keenum has impressed throwing for 280 yards or more in the last three games, including seven touchdowns and just three picks in that span. His recent play has called for Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune to say that the debate for who should be Minnesota’s signal caller for the remainder of the season should be put to rest.

Scoggins opines that Bridgewater’s return has been emotional and uplifting, but Keenum puts the team in the best position to win now and in the playoffs. In his mind, Keenum is playing with too much confidence to make a change at this point, and in his opinion reporters should stop asking the question of who’s going to start after every game the team plays.

  • Talented Bears pass rusher Leonard Floyd was carted off the field in today’s loss to the Lions, and it seems like the linebacker has suffered a “really serious” knee injury, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. Dickerson notes that Floyd collided with cornerback Kyle Fuller‘s knee on a play in the fourth quarter and stayed on the ground for a long time before getting taken off the field. “Leonard Floyd left with what looks like a really serious knee injury,” Bears coach John Fox said. “I hate to speculate, but usually when you get taken out on a cart, it’s not great. We’ll evaluate it. I’ll talk to our doctors more today and tonight, and we will continue to evaluate tomorrow.” Floyd has not graded out all too well by Pro Football Focus this season, accumulating a mediocre 74.8 grade so far this season. But the 25-year-old showed much promise in his rookie campaign in 2016 when the edge defender tallied seven sacks in the 12 games he appeared in.
  • Despite recently signing a contract extension for next season, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald continues to dodge questions about his future in the league, reports Kent Somers of AZCentral.com. “I’m only focused on Jacksonville,” Fitzgerald said of next week’s opponent. “We lost a tough one today. We’ve got a really, really, really good defense coming in at home this weekend and two good defenses following them (Rams, Titans). We’ve got to focus on that and that’s where all my attention is focused.” This can be expected from Fitz considering that he’s never been one to reveal much to the media, but it’s still notable because of the trying season Arizona is going through for the second straight year. The 34-year-old pass catcher can still clearly play and is putting up numbers to prove it, but football is a tough game and it remains to be seen what he will decide to do moving forward when he has no more games to look to after Week 17.
  • The Saints pulled off a tremendous comeback win when they came back from 15 points down to beat the Redskins in overtime to win their eighth straight game. Safety Kenny Vaccaro made a note of the winning streak on his personal Twitter account today and also made the proclamation that he would be ready to return for the team’s game vs. the Rams next Sunday (Twitter link). The news should be taken with a grain of salt considering the team’s doctors haven’t cleared him to return, but it’s certainly a positive development for New Orleans who have had to be without their starting safety for the past two weeks as he’s been recovering from a groin injury.

Case Keenum Remains Vikings Starter

Teddy Bridgewater will have to wait at least a little while longer before regaining his starting job. On Wednesday morning, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer announced that Case Keenum will be under center when they take on the Rams this week. Case Keenum/Teddy Bridgewater (vertical)

Fans have been itching to see what Bridgewater can do now that he is finally healthy, but it would be difficult for the Vikings to bench Keenum after he led the team to a road win over the Redskins. After throwing for four touchdowns in the 38-30 win, the Vikings advanced to 7-2, good for first place in the NFC North.

Through ten weeks of the NFL season, Keenum has graded out as the league’s 17th best quarterback, according to the metrics at Pro Football Focus. He’s not necessarily setting the world on fire, but he has played much better than anyone would have expected in place of Week 1 starter Sam Bradford. Perhaps more importantly, the team is winning with him at the helm.

If Keenum falters against Los Angeles this week, it’s possible that we could see Bridgewater take the field for the first time since January of 2016. Short leash or no, it’ll be Keenum getting the Vikings’ first snap at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

If Keenum’s quality play continues throughout the season, it will set the table for a very interesting scenario in the offseason. Keenum, Bridgewater, and Bradford will all be eligible for free agency in March.

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