The Vikings have taken a different path at quarterback this year, slotting inexperienced passers behind starter Kirk Cousins. Third-round rookie Kellen Mondand practice squad veteran Jake Browningare competing to be Minnesota’s backup. Thus far, the results have not impressed.
While Minnesota also has 2020 seventh-round pick Nate Stanley and well-traveled former UDFA Danny Etlingon the roster, Mond and Browning appear to be vying for the gig. Following the team’s second preseason game, Mike Zimmer described his QB2 situation as a work in progress said the team will discuss bringing in an outside option this week, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson.
Mond, who missed time due to a COVID-19 contraction earlier in camp, has not progressed to the point he can be relied upon as a backup, per Tomasson. Browning, Stanley and Etling have also not taken any NFL regular-season snaps. Browning has spent the past two seasons on the Vikings’ practice squad. The Vikes did not re-sign two-year backup Sean Mannion, and their hopes of trading up forJustin Fieldsdid not produce the desired result. Although Cousins has proven durable (zero missed games due to injury), the team may be vulnerable if its starter suffers an injury or lands on the reserve/COVID-19 list again.
Under Zimmer, the Vikings have used several veterans as backups. Matt Cassel, Shaun Hill, Case Keenum, Trevor Siemian and Mannion have been in these roles at various points over the past seven seasons. The Vikings’ 2017 Keenum addition proved rather important, with Sam Bradford going down early and Keenum delivering by far the best season of his career to steer the team to the NFC championship game.
Zimmer cited a need to be careful financially, despite the team holding more than $13MM in cap space and a QB2 signing unlikely to cost much at this point. Available options include Blake Bortles, new ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III and Josh Rosen. The latter, however, has not been viewed by his past two teams as a backup-caliber passer. Minnesota could look to the trade market as well. With Falcons backup A.J. McCarrongoing down with an ACL tear and the Jets also having no experience behind their starter, there figures to be competition on the trade front.
Cardinals NT Corey Peters is out for the season due to a torn patellar tendon, and as he is in the final year of his contract with Arizona, it’s possible he has already played his last game with the team. But if he has it his way, that won’t be the case.
The 32-year-old said that he would love to spend the rest of his career with the Cardinals, as Mason Kern of SI.com writes, and assuming the price is right, it would make sense for GM Steve Keim to keep him. Peters was named Arizona’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award yesterday, and he has been a team captain for three years running. In addition to his stout defense against the run, he is a highly-respected spiritual and emotional leader, so look for the two sides to discuss a reunion this offseason.
Now for more from the NFC West:
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgeraldsays he feels much better after testing positive for COVID-19 late last month, though he has yet to regain his senses of taste and smell (Twitter link via Kimberley A. Martin of ESPN.com). Fitz also says he lost nine pounds during his bout with the coronavirus, but he did come off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, and as Darren Urban of the team’s official website tweets, the 37-year-old will suit up against the Giants this weekend.
After sinking 88.6% of his field goal tries in 2019, Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalezhas converted just 72.7% of his attempts this year, prompting some to wonder if the team will seek another option. But Keim will keep rolling with Gonzalez, saying, “I know people question Zane but Zane has a lot of talent. … I think Zane will work through the tough times” (Twitter link via Urban). Gonzalez is playing out the season on his RFA tender, and this is not how he wanted to enter his first offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
The Rams suddenly find themselves atop the NFC West, and they could be getting their left tackle back soon. Andrew Whitworthhas been on the shelf since the middle of November with a torn MCL and PCL, but Jay Glazer of FOX Sports says (via Twitter) that the veteran OT, who turns 39 tomorrow, will test out the knee next week. Whitworth is apparently way ahead of schedule and could return by the end of the regular season.
Jimmy Garoppolo‘s future with the 49ers is in some doubt, even though HC Kyle Shanahan recently said he expects the dashing signal-caller to be the team’s starter in 2021. That may well be the case, but Matt Barrows of The Athletic believes San Francisco will select a QB in next year’s draft, perhaps as high as the second round. There could be a few intriguing prospects available at that point that Shanahan may be able to turn into a viable starter at the professional level. Players like Florida’s Kyle Trask or Alabama’s Mac Jones could both be options.
It has now been over a year since Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny last suited up for a game, but as John Boyle of the team’s official website notes, Penny returned to practice this week. Head coach Pete Carroll says he’s excited about what he has seen from Penny in practice (Twitter link via 710 ESPN Seattle), and the ‘Hawks could certainly use a boost to an RB corps that has dealt with a number of injuries this season. Per Boyle, CB Quinton Dunbar, who has been on IR for a few weeks with a knee injury, has also returned to practice.
The Seahawks signed QB Alex McGoughto their practice squad yesterday, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, the team has put its other PS signal-caller, Danny Etling, in a bubble. The Broncos, of course, recently had to play a game with a practice squad wide receiver at QB because the rest of their quarterbacks were deemed high-risk close contacts of Jeff Driskel, who had tested positive. The Seahawks are keeping Etling in a bubble to guard against just such a situation.