With the trade of Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins last night, the quarterback carousel for the 2018 NFL season is already spinning at full speed, and we haven’t even hit February yet.
For fans of the Minnesota Vikings, that means speculation about whether or not Rick Spielman and company could possibly be looking to bring Kirk Cousins to Minnesota. It’s also causing people to look at the Vikings’ three pending free agents at the position (Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Bradford) and wonder whether any of those gentlemen are the man for the job.
In order to solidify their quarterback position this year, the Vikings are likely going to have to back a dump truck full of money up to someone’s door. However, there’s something important to remember in all of this. That’s the fact that, while the Vikings are flush with cap room (approximately $57 million), there are a lot of players that have performed exceptionally well over the past few seasons that are also going to be looking for big paydays.
For starters, the team is going to have to look at an extension for linebacker Anthony Barr. Barr is entering his fifth-year option season, and because he was a Top 10 selection the year he was drafted, his price tag is going to be the same as the transition tag for players at his position. As of now, his cap figure is going to be just a shade over $12 million.
If that’s not enough, there are three very important Vikings that were drafted in 2015 that are going into the final year of their contracts. Those three players are wide receiver Stefon Diggs, linebacker Eric Kendricks, and defensive end Danielle Hunter. I’m not sure what kind of magic Rob Brzezinski can work with the contracts for those three players, but they’re all in line to, as the kids might say, “get paid.”
With Smith getting an extension from the Redskins. . .when the deal becomes official in March. . .that’s just about in line with the value of the franchise tag for quarterbacks, it’s likely going to drive the price tag for someone like Cousins, or even for Keenum, up quite a bit. If the Vikings throw the kind of money at either of those two guys that they’ll likely be looking for, it could potentially preclude them from extending a very good wide receiver or at least one important piece of their defense.
Who knows? Maybe Cousins and his agent will say, “Hey, we’ve made a ton of money over the past two years with Washington using the franchise tag. Maybe that’s not the most important thing.” I mean, I’m not saying that it’s likely that it will happen, but I suppose there’s a chance that it could.
If that doesn’t happen, there are teams with significantly more cap space than the Vikings that have quarterback issues. The Cleveland Browns have over $100 million in salary cap space to play with this offseason. They can literally throw just about as much money as they feel like at any quarterback they want, and with a whole raft of picks in this year’s NFL Draft, quarterbacks could find that to be a decent situation to go into.
But, whenever you talk about quarterbacks and the way forward for this franchise, remember that there are some very good players that are in line for contract extensions to consider as well.