Well, let's start taking a look ahead at your 2015 Minnesota Vikings, shall we? I'll start going through the team, position-by-position, over the next few weeks and take a look at one man's opinion of what the Vikings should do going forward to get prepared for next season.
We'll start at the most logical spot, that being the quarterback position. For the first time in a long time, the Vikings don't have any significant drama at the quarterback position. They appear, for the first time since the Daunte Culpepper era, have an honest-to-goodness long-term answer at the position in Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater started twelve of the Vikings' sixteen games in 2014, and got markedly better as the season went on. Over the season's final five weeks, he was one of the best quarterbacks in the league by just about any measure. We've already talked about Teddy a lot this off-season, and I'm sure there will be more as the off-season wears on, so I won't belabor the point any further. We'll just say that the overwhelming majority of Vikings' fans are excited as heck about Teddy Bridgewater, and they have every reason to be.
The bigger question might actually be what the team does at the backup quarterback spot. Right now, that spot is in the hands of Matt Cassel, who entered 2014 as the Vikings' starter. Cassel only started three games for the Vikings last season, but that was enough to give us pretty much the entire Cassel spectrum. We got one game of good Cassel (17-of-25, 170 yards, 2 TD against the St. Louis Rams) and one game of bad Cassel (the four interception debacle against the New England Patriots). Cassel has a cap figure of around $4.75 million, which is a figure that seems awfully steep for a backup quarterback. You would think that the Vikings would be able to negotiate some sort of a deal with Cassel that would allow him to come back at a cheaper price.
You would think that. . .until you get a good look at what the free agent market has to offer at quarterback. Ladies and gentlemen, I've seen the free agent quarterback class of 2015, and to put it bluntly, it's pretty freaking terrible.
From the Pro Football Focus free agent tracker (linked above there), there are only two quarterbacks coming available this off-season that even merited a positive rating in 2014. One of them is 206-year old Matt Hasselbeck, who played all of 86 snaps this past season for the Colts, and the other is T.J. Yates, who played 18 snaps this season. Some of the other names on the list?
Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Jake Locker, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer, and Michael Vick.
The team is likely going to have Cassel back as the second quarterback next season, and they're probably going to be on the hook for the whole price tag. Given the alternatives at the backup position, there's really no reason for Cassel to take a paycut. He and his agent undoubtedly know that.
The Vikings carried two quarterbacks for the majority of the season, and they have Pat Devlin on the practice squad. Given the other needs on the team at this point, there really isn't any reason for the Vikings to even consider drafting a quarterback, with the possible exception of a late-round flier type of project. Some of the guys that the team could consider in the last couple of rounds of the draft are guys like Bryce Petty (Baylor), Cody Fajardo (Nevada), and Taylor Kelly (Arizona State).
But, again, I'd be surprised if the Vikings took a quarterback at all on draft weekend. The greater likelihood is for them to use Devlin and (potentially) another free agent type of quarterback as "camp arms," and keep someone on the practice squad like they did for much of the season in 2014 in case of emergencies.
So since there's really nothing to debate as far as the starting quarterback situation, what does everyone think about the backup spot?