Sam Bradford

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Activate QB Sam Bradford From IR

Sam Bradford is back. Chris Tomasson of St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter) that the Vikings have activated the quarterback from the injured reserve. To make room, the team has waived tight end Kyle Carter.

Sam Bradford (Vertical)Bradford, who had been shelved since Week 5, returned to practice in early January. Bradford hasn’t played in a full game since the first week of the season, as he’s battled knee injuries for much of the campaign. Backup Case Keenum has been a revelation as the team’s starting quarterback, completing 67.6-percent of his passes for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. For comparison’s sake, in 2016, Bradford completed 71.6-percent of his passes for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Keenum will still be under center for the Vikings’ playoff matchup against the Saints tomorrow.

While the top of the depth chart may not be in question, the presence of Teddy Bridgewater complicates the backup role. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer acknowledged that Bradford is healthy enough to play, but he wouldn’t reveal if the quarterback would unseat Bridgewater as the top reserve. Bridgewater missed the entire 2016 season after having suffered a torn ACL, and he was activated off the PUP in November of this season.

Bridgewater was actually the last Vikings quarterback to start a playoff game, but he acknowledged that he doesn’t care about who ends up taking the reps.

“I just want us to win,” he told Tomasson (via Twitter). “At this time of the year, it doesn’t matter if it’s pretty, if it’s ugly, it’s all about winning and how you get it done.”

Carter, a 2016 undrafted free agent out of Penn State, had spent the past two seasons with the Vikings organization. He appeared in three games this season without recording a reception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sam Bradford To Practice This Week

Sam Bradford‘s been shelved since an ill-advised return to action in Week 5, but the Vikings’ Week 1 starter the past two seasons will come off IR and return to practice this week, Mike Zimmer said (via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk).

Once Bradford does practice, the Vikings will have three weeks to activate him. Case Keenum is expected to remain the starter after taking the reins from Bradford and piloting the Vikes to the NFC’s No. 2 seed — Minnesota’s first bye since 2009 — but Bradford returning would obviously supply high-end depth.

Bradford has experienced consistent injury trouble since hurting his knee in Week 1, but the 30-year-old passer told Zimmer his injured left knee feels good after this lengthy rest period. The Vikings could activate Bradford this week, but with no game Sunday, they will surely let him see if he can stay healthy through practices before making a decision down the road.

Teddy Bridgewater and Kyle Sloter are Keenum’s backups. A Bradford return would almost certainly force the team to cut Sloter from the 53-man roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sam Bradford Expected At Practice Next Week

Sam Bradford‘s mandated two months on IR are just about up, and the Vikings expect their Week 1 starting quarterback to return to practice next week, Mike Zimmer said (via Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com).

While Zimmer is unsure if Bradford would be available during the playoffs, the Vikings would be able to activate him. Zimmer said Bradford told him his injured left knee feels good, and the fourth-year Vikings HC added (via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) his initial 2017 starter has been throwing recently.

Bradford has not played since Week 5 and has only suited up for two games this season. He would be eligible for reactivation by the time the Vikings begin their playoff slate. But this would obviously require the eighth-year veteran to show he’s healthy enough to suit up again, which may be a lot to ask given how his season’s unfolded.

Case Keenum took over for Bradford midway through an October win in Chicago and has put to rest any quarterback controversy that emerged for a team that has two former first-round picks under contract. Bradford, like Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater, will see his Vikings contract expire at season’s end.

Bradford’s experienced knee trouble throughout his career but was considered the Vikings’ preferred starter until around midseason, when Keenum started to thrive as a legitimately viable option rather than the career backup he’d profiled as prior to 2017. Bradford experienced knee pain prior to Week 2 and was a last-minute scratch. He missed the next two Minnesota games before returning at far less than 100 percent during a victory over the Bears, after which the Vikes shut him down.

He’s thrown just 43 passes this season, a year after playing in 15 games — his most since 2012 — and setting the NFL’s completion percentage standard at 71.6 percent.

While the 30-year-old quarterback wouldn’t be expected to earn his job back, his dominant Week 1 performance in a win over the Saints notwithstanding, it would provide possible insurance. However, Bridgewater has been Keenum’s backup since being activated. So, it’s unclear how the pecking order would end up in a rare scenario where all three of Minnesota’s quarterbacks are active.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Place Sam Bradford On IR

The Vikings have placed quarterback Sam Bradford on injured reserve following knee surgery. Given that we are halfway through the season, that move will wrap up his 2017 campaign. Sam Bradford (vertical)

[RELATED: Vikings To Activate Teddy Bridgewater]

The Vikings had to clear a roster spot to make room for the return of Teddy Bridgewater and that forced them to make a tough decision. Fill-in Case Keenum has been surprisingly sharp as the starter, so keeping him is a no-brainer. In theory, the Vikings could have released young quarterback Kyle Sloter, but they would have almost certainly lost him to waivers if they tried to sneak him through and re-sign him to the practice squad. Rather than losing Sloter and hoping that Bradford could maybe return to the field this year, the Vikings are parking the veteran on IR.

Bradford looked sharp in the Vikings’ season opener, completing 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, knee issues sidelined him until Week 5. In that game, he completed 5 of 11 passes before being forced out in the first half.

Keenum is expected to continue as Minnesota’s starter with Bridgewater as the backup. If Keenum falters, however, that order could change quickly.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings To Activate Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater will be activated to the Vikings’ 53-man roster, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets. Meanwhile, the team is discussing whether Sam Bradford will be placed on injured reserve. Teddy Bridgewater (vertical)

Moving Bradford to IR could be the Vikings best option given the way that Case Keenum has played in his absence. The Vikings also know that they will probably lose preseason standout Kyle Sloter if they try to sneak him through waivers and on to the practice squad.

Keenum is expected to remain the starter for the time being with Bridgewater as a backup. If Keenum falters against the Redskins on Sunday, the Vikings could have another QB dilemma on their hands.

In 2016, Bradford set the NFL record for completion percentage in a season at 71.6%. This year, however, he has been dealing with serious knee troubles and has appeared in only two games. Bradford opened up the season by completing 27 of 32 passes against the Saints for three touchdowns and no interceptions, but he did not return to action until Week 5 against the Bears. After getting re-injured midway through that game, we have not seen Bradford take the field since.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Vikings, Zeke, Williams, Lynch

Sam Bradford does not have a return timetable after making a brief cameo in Chicago earlier this month. The Vikings quarterback is still experiencing knee pain, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link). However, Minnesota may be set to finally have some quarterback depth again after its Week 9 bye. Teddy Bridgewater is expected to come off the PUP list after the bye, and Rapoport expects him to immediately compete with Case Keenum for the Vikes’ starting job. A mostly Keenum-led team this season, the Vikings lead the NFC North after their win over the Browns on Sunday. Bridgewater reclaiming his job might be a bit tricky considering where the team is in the standings and how long it’s been since the fourth-year passer was at the controls. But a Bridgewater return gives the Vikings options they don’t currently have with Bradford still on the mend.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • Ezekiel Elliott did not travel with the Cowboys back to Dallas on Sunday night, instead trekking to New York for his seminal court date, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (on Twitter). Elliott did not attend his previous hearing with New York’s Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans earlier this month. The Cowboys star back rushed for more than 100 yards for a second straight week and has five touchdowns over the past two games but could see his suspension go into effect as early as next week if Monday goes poorly for his side.
  • Trent Williams is hoping the Redskins‘ bye week gives him time to heal his knee injury, but the Washington tackle isn’t certain that will do the trick, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Williams said earlier this month he’s hoping to put off surgery until after the season but revealed Sunday (via Keim) some doctors have told him that’s a six- to nine-month rehab process. Calling this a deep bone bruise, Williams added other medical personnel have said he can go the rest-and-recover route. So this bye week will be critical for the status of Washington’s injury-ravaged offensive line.
  • Speaking of left tackle injuries, Joe Staley suffered an orbital bone fracture Sunday. But the 11th-year 49ers edge blocker received a bit of good news, with Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reporting (via Twitter) no surgery will be required. Still, this could end any Staley trade speculation and keep him in San Francisco for another full season.
  • Paxton Lynch is no longer on the Broncos‘ injury report, and the second-year quarterback could be in uniform Monday night for the first time this season, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. The Broncos have not received much help from their offense the past three games and have fallen to 3-3. The team obviously would be interested in getting its 2016 first-rounder on the field at some point, but Trevor Siemian won the job in the preseason. However, if the Broncos slink out of the playoff race as a result of a brutal upcoming schedule — the Chiefs, Eagles and Patriots represent Denver’s ensuing three games — Lynch could be summoned for a full-on audition.
  • Devon Still is considering retirement. The former Bengals rotational defensive lineman told TMZ he plans to decide in a couple of weeks if he will pursue a shot at another opportunity or not. The 28-year-old interior defender is currently a free agent, having last played with 2016 Texans. The Jets cut Still in August.
  • T.Y. Hilton is rumored to be on the trade block. Florio hears from multiple sources the NFL’s reigning receiving-yardage leader is available. Florio opines a future Hilton-type talent could come out of a mid-round draft pick, allowing the Colts — now run by a decision-maker in Chris Ballard who did not draft the sixth-year wide receiver — to offload Hilton’s $13MM-AAV contract and improve the roster with the savings.

NFC Notes: Peterson, Vikings, Kuechly

Bruce Arians came up with the idea for the Cardinals to acquire Adrian Peterson, doing so after his team’s blowout loss to the Eagles. Arians was driving to the team facility when the concept emerged, Lars Anderson of Bleacher Report notes. The Cardinals coach watched every Peterson carry with the Saints to make sure the 32-year-old future Hall of Famer still had enough to be a solution for an Arizona rushing attack that still ranks last in the league because of its anemic start. Arians then took the idea to Steve Keim, who called Saints GM Mickey Loomis, Anderson reports.

He ran hard and could get something out of nothing,” Arians said. “We had finesse backs on our team. I was looking for that power guy. He was it, brother, he was it.”

Immediately installed as Arizona’s starter, Peterson turned back the clock and rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in his Cardinals debut. The former five-time All-Pro said previously he wants to play into his late 30s, but that dialogue stopped in New Orleans. But Peterson has resumed that talking point now as a Cardinal, eyeing “four or five” more seasons.

I felt like my ability was going to waste in New Orleans,” Peterson said, via Anderson. “The system just wasn’t a good fit for me. But I still want to play four or five more years. I still can run a high-4.3 40. And I’ve always loved getting the ball deep in the backfield, which is what we’re doing here. I feel like I’m built for this offense.”

Here’s the latest from the NFC, shifting to Peterson’s first two NFL employers.

  • The Vikings are starting Case Keenum again this week, the team announced. Mike Zimmer, though, said he believes Sam Bradford will play again this season, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. This will be Keenum’s fifth start of the year. Bradford’s status has gone from somewhat surprising inactive in Week 2 to being potentially out for six weeks to having the knee be categorized as worse than what’s been reported. Bradford consulted with a specialist last week, Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com notes. The eighth-year quarterback saw this same specialist previously, per Zimmer. Teddy Bridgewater returned to practice but likely remains far away from playing in a game.
  • Luke Kuechly will miss the Panthers‘ Week 7 tilt against the Bears after suffering a concussion in Week 6. David Mayo will replace Kuechly at middle linebacker, Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk notes. Kuechly has missed time because of concussions in each of the past two seasons but was progressing in the protocol earlier this week.
  • Minnesota will also be without Stefon Diggs this weekend, with the Vikes’ No. 1 wide receiver set to miss a second straight game because of a groin injury.
  • Saints practice squad offensive lineman Cameron Tom recently had his salary bumped to $27K+ per week, according to a source who spoke with Nick Underhill of The Advocate. He was previously making $7,200 per week. Assuming he stays on the taxi squad through the end of the season, he’ll earn $344K as opposed to $122K. His weekly pay is now equal to a minimum salaried player on the 53-man roster ($465K). It’s a sign that the Saints think highly of Tom and that other teams have thought about signing him away.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Ngata, Seahawks

The Vikings are facing a quarterback crossroads, as are the quarterbacks themselves. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.comSam Bradford traveled to New York late this past week to begin Regenokine treatments in hopes of getting inflammation out of his ailing knee (the treatment involves drawing blood, spinning it down, and re-injecting it into the knee over the course of a few days). He is doing everything he can to ease the pain in his knee, but the fact that he missed three games due to the injury and then was pulled in the second quarter of last week’s contest is obviously not a good sign. In fact, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports said today that Bradford’s knee situation is worse than people know (Twitter link).

Teddy Bridgewater, meanwhile, will receive an important checkup tomorrow. He is eligible to begin practicing this week, and the physical will determine whether that is feasible. Sources close to Bridgewater say he is ready to go, and if he is, in fact, activated from the PUP list this season, Rapoport says his contract will not toll, which means he will be a free agent at the end of the season. If he is not activated, the contract will toll and he will remain under club control through 2018.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press says it is possible that DT Haloti Ngata, whose contract expires at the end of the year and who suffered a season-ending bicep injury last week, returns to the team in 2018. However, Birkett believes it is more likely that the longtime star retires.
  • The Seahawks are making a concerted effort to improve their O-line via trade, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who says the team is focused on landing disgruntled Texans star Duane Brown. We heard last week that the Texans intend to retain Brown, but that could always change if Seattle’s offer is strong enough.
  • The 49ers released NaVorro Bowman earlier this week, and Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the team will continue to look to trade and/or release some of its long-term veterans over the next couple of weeks as it embarks on a full-fledged youth movement.
  • The 49ers will carry $4.774MM of dead money on the books in 2018 following Bowman’s release, but they will save all $9.45MM of his 2018 pay, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • Rapoport believes the Saints may be in the trading mood after failing to trade for Bowman, and he says the team could consider trading LB Hau’oli Kikaha (Twitter link). Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune, however, suggests (via Twitter) that is not likely.