The “legal tampering” period of NFL Free Agency will get underway exactly one month from today, and outlets around the interwebs are starting to put together their lists of who the most desireable members of this year’s free agent class will be.
Over behind the great E$PN paywall, they’ve put together their list of the Top 50 available free agents for this offseason. Not surprisingly, all three members of the current Minnesota Vikings quarterback depth chart that are eligible for free agency are on the list.
As you’d expect, Case Keenum is the highest-ranked of the three, as he comes in at #5 on ESPN’s list, behind Kirk Cousins (who is #1 overall) and Drew Brees (who is at #3 and still isn’t actually leaving New Orleans so don’t get your hopes up). Here’s what they have to say about Keenum in free agency:
The Vikings would be hard-pressed to let Keenum leave after he finished the season with the NFL’s second-highest Total QBR (69.5) and led them to the NFC Championship Game. Even if they’re not ready to commit long term based on 15 high-level starts, the franchise tag could be a reasonable option. Otherwise, Keenum would find multiple suitors on the open market.
ESPN then puts Sam Bradford next on their list, but he’s down at #18 overall. There aren’t any quarterbacks listed between Keenum and Bradford in ESPN’s rankings.
Bradford demonstrated in Week 1 what he can do when healthy, carving up the Saints for 346 yards and three touchdowns. But after a long history of knee injuries caught up to him, forcing surgery and limiting him to two starts this season, it’s fair to wonder how a team could commit to him for anything more than an incentive-laden flier.
The third of the Vikings’ quarterbacks on the list, Teddy Bridgewater, is listed at #23.
Healthy but without a meaningful snap in two full seasons, Bridgewater poses a conundrum on the market. The Vikings’ plans are unknown, but their decision to deactivate him for the divisional playoff round was notable. At best, Bridgewater’s next team will get a 10-year starter with no compensation required. At worst, they sign a rusty and less mobile version of the player we last saw in 2015.
I’ve got my own opinions on the quarterback situation, but I’ll go through all of that in a separate post.
One other member of the Vikings finds their way onto the Top 50 list, and that’s running back Jerick McKinnon, who comes in at #41.
Running backs aren’t usually hot commodities in free agency, but the few that do receive interest usually attract it via versatility. McKinnon, once a quarterback at Georgia Southern, caught 51 passes for 421 yards and two touchdowns this season and has a total of 142 receptions in 58 career games.
Do you agree with ESPN’s assessment of the Vikings’ pending free agents, folks?