Case Keenum has started to gather some awards and accolades as he has continued to impress with his play at quarterback for the Vikings this season. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month in November, the first Vikings QB to earn that award since Brett Favre in 2009, and has won some weekly awards for performances over the last couple months as well. Most recently he was also named the Minnesota 2017 Person of the Year by The Athletic- a publication I’ve never heard of. It wasn’t the award that struck me though, but the interview he and his wife Kimberly did as part of receiving it.
Both Case and Kimberly Keenum make no secret about wanting to stay in Minnesota.
“We’d love to stay,” Case says.
“We would,” Kimberly echoes.
“The first six or eight months we’ve been here, it’s been great,” Case says. “We understand how the NFL works, but we love it here. We love the city, love the people here, love the organization.”
And why wouldn’t they.
Keenum has had easily the best season of his pro career. Here is where he ranks in key QB metrics after week 15:
Completion %: 67.9% (2nd)
Passer Rating: 98.9 (tied 7th)
ANY/A: 7.19 (7th)
INT %: 1.6% (tied 5th lowest)
Sack %: 3.83% (5th)
All of those metrics also exceed Tom Brady’s career averages, despite Keenum playing on a new team, with unfamiliar receivers, and a new scheme.
I did a piece on Keenum a couple weeks ago, outlining how Keenum has improved as a Viking and over the course of the season. Keenum credited both the coaching he’s received as a Viking, and the Vikings’ receivers- the best group he’s worked with.
And since the bye-week, check out this comparison with the leading candidate for MVP of the league this year:
Funny Keenum has only received a trickle of consideration for MVP himself, and was not even among the top 10 QBs in Pro Bowl voting.
Vikings 2017 MVP
Be that as it may, there isn’t much doubt that Keenum has been the Minnesota Vikings’ MVP this season, as these highlight reels makes clear:
Also apparent from the highlights is the quality of the receiver group Keenum is passing to. Adam Thielen has gone from breakout year to top 5 receiver year. Diggs, Rudolph, McKinnon, and even Jarius Wright have contributed big plays as well.
The offensive line has been markedly improved over last year overall, but they’ve also allowed a fair amount of pressures. The highlight reels don’t show as much how many times Keenum moved in or out of the pocket to extend the play a second or two, then making a throw. Sometimes it was only a few yards for a first down. Sometimes it was a for a big gain or a touchdown. Sometimes he just tucked the ball and ran. But all those plays turned a negative or nothing play into a positive or big one. And that’s what wins games.
Keenum has put together top QB stats. He makes plays. He wants to stay in Minnesota. He’s led this team to a division championship and playoff birth. His teammates believe in him. He’s the MVP of the Minnesota Vikings this season.
And you don’t let your team’s MVP sign somewhere else the next year.
It’s time to sign Case Keenum to a long-term deal.
It’s not about Teddy Bridgewater or what he may or may not be in the future. It’s about Case Keenum and what he’s done for this team. The Vikings front office cannot, not extend him after the year he’s had- especially with no other proven QB signed next year.
But signing Keenum to a long-term deal necessarily makes Teddy Bridgewater either a backup, or a future member of another team.
Keenum has put up top 10 QB stats this year. However you want to discount that he’s only done that for one season, that still will command in the neighborhood of $20 million a year. 29 year-old Matthew Stafford was just extended in a 5-year, $135 million deal with $60 million guaranteed. That’s $27 million a year. Stafford has improved over his career, but isn’t setting the world on fire either. However you want to slice it, signing Keenum doesn’t leave much money for other QBs on the roster, especially with some top priority players coming off their rookie deals over the next few years.
You can talk about Bridgewater getting Bledsoe’d, but this is really about Keenum finding a home and hitting his stride for the first time in his pro career. And nobody knows better than Keenum what it’s like to have another QB come in an take-over your job.
But at the end of the day, it’s about getting the best guy you can to fill the most important position in professional sports.
It’s time to sign Case Keenum as the franchise quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, as the Vikings’ Super Bowl window opens in earnest.