The Minnesota Vikings arguably have more decisions to make at the quarterback position this offseason than any other team, and they have apparently already made one difficult one.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media is reporting that the Vikings have decided they will not franchise tag Case Keenum.
Keenum is one of three quarterbacks who were on Minnesota’s roster last season who are set to become free agents. The other two are Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford. Of the three, Bradford seems like the most certain to not be back. The Vikings invested a first-round pick in Bridgewater just four years ago, but his health may always be a question mark after he missed an entire season with a devastating knee injury.
What Keenum did for the Vikings in 2017 is undeniable, as his steady play helped guide them to the NFC Championship Game after Bradford went down early on in the year. However, they may feel that he isn’t worth the salary he is going to command on the open market or the roughly $24 million the franchise tag would cost. Plus, Minnesota is said to be the preferred destination for the top free agent QB who will be available. That could play the biggest role in their decision.
Case Keenum sounds like a man who really wants to stay with the Minnesota Vikings.
Keenum, a free agent at season’s end, said Friday that he feels he has “unfinished business” with Minnesota after their blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship.
“We love Minnesota, we love it here, we love the season we had, we definitely feel like there’s some unfinished business with how things ended,” Keenum told 1500ESPN’s Mackey and Judd, via Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN. “At the same time, we understand tough decisions have to be made and so we’ll see what happens.”
After the season he had, Keenum is due a huge payday. He threw for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns, going 11-3 as a starter. Of course, he’s on the same team as another quarterback who fully expects a starting role in 2018, so the Vikings will have some very difficult decisions to make in the weeks to come.
Philadelphia Eagles fans are not exactly known for showing hospitality to visiting fans and players, and Case Keenum and his family got a first-hand look at that during the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.
Keenum, who threw two interceptions in a 38-7 loss, arranged for some family members to sit in the stands at Lincoln Financial Field to watch his Minnesota Vikings try to clinch a Super Bowl berth. It sounds like Keenum’s family had as much fun in the stands as the quarterback had on the field.
Unfortunately, this has become a pattern for the families of visiting players in Philly. In fact, Eagles fans have even been known to go after the family members of their own players, as former linebacker Casey Matthews could tell you. One star quarterback’s family once made the wise decision to hide their team’s colors when they were watching a game in Philadelphia.
Earlier this season, Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson spoke about how hostile things can get at Lincoln Financial Field. He also said NFL rookies are told to keep their families away from road games in Philadelphia. The Super Bowl may not be in Philly, but Eagles fans are sure to make their presence felt in Minneapolis.
The 2017-2018 NFL season is nearing its end with only the Super Bowl left to play. Accordingly, the stamp has been put on the performances for most players and now the debate is on: who was the best, who was the worst, who was over-looked, and who ended up being a letdown?
Here’s a look at 15 of the NFL’s most underrated players in 2017:
15. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
It’s hard to believe Michael Thomas, who has more receptions in his first two seasons than any wide receiver in history, could be considered underrated or overlooked, but it’s become apparent that he is. Thomas finished third among receivers in receptions (104), sixth in yards (1,245), third in first downs (70) and second in PFF grades (93.0), but failed to earn an All-Pro nod and was left off the PFWA All-NFL Team. He was voted into his first Pro Bowl, but he deserves much more recognition.
14. Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Jack Doyle made his presence known in 2016, but he still wasn’t really on anyone’s radar outside of Indianapolis entering this season. Despite the lack of attention, Doyle continued a steady progression, finishing second among tight ends in receptions (80), sixth in receiving yards (690), seventh in first downs (34) and 10th in Pro Football Focus grade (77.5). Even with the impressive credentials, Doyle remains underrated and overlooked, failing to earn a Pro Bowl nod, a spot on the AP All-Pro Team or any honors courtesy of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).
13. Blake Martinez, LB, Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl LII will feature the AFC champion New England Patriots and NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX. Things are very different now. The Eagles, in particular, are a completely different team than they were 13 years ago, and the Patriots have evolved since then.
Of course, two victors on Sunday means two teams are going home. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings came close to reaching the big game, but ultimately they’ll be watching from home instead of participating in it. One team fell at the very end, while the other was comprehensively blown out. The manner of the defeats were different, but the results will have both teams looking back all offseason and wondering what could have been.
Here are eight big disappointments from Sunday’s championship games.
1) Jacksonville’s fourth quarter offense
Given how often the Patriots seem to come back in playoff games, it’s hard to say their opponent is ever in a good position, even when winning. That said, the Jaguars were set up fairly well going into the fourth quarter. On the second play of the quarter, Josh Lambo hit a 43-yard field goal to put the Jags up 10. On the ensuing drive, Myles Jack forced a Dion Lewis fumble with a great play, giving Jacksonville the ball with 13 and a half minutes to go and a 10-point lead to protect.
The Jaguars offense went silent. Perhaps some of it was the New England defense, while there was also a desire to prevent Blake Bortles from turning the ball over. Whatever the case, Jacksonville was too predictable. The first down play was almost always a run, which the Patriots were all over. Bortles missed a few reads as well. The end result was that after the field goal that put them ahead 20-10, the Jags ran 17 plays for a total of 62 yards and failed to score another point. One more well-constructed drive could have made the difference.
2) Minnesota Vikings’ defense
NFL fans heard a little about Case Keenum’s wife Kimberly after the Minnesota Vikings’ miracle touchdown to beat the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs.
Keenum cited the touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs as the third-best moment in his life, behind giving his life to the lord and marrying his wife.
So what makes Kimberly so special? She learns her husband’s playbook to gain a better understanding of the game and to help him prepare. That point was revealed when HBO’s “Hard Knocks” covered the Rams in 2016 back when Keenum was with the team.
“It’s fun for me to learn the plays too and hear what he’s actually saying in the huddle,” Kimberly said on “Hard Knocks”, according to an AOL article.
Kimberly is so knowledgeable about the game and her husband’s team that she’s able to help many of the other football significant others learn as well. Just like Brock Osweiler’s wife, Keenum’s sounds pretty awesome.
A strange and unusual wild-card weekend gives way to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, with the league’s best teams entering the fray after their bye weeks. The pressure is really on now, and there are lots of factors that will go into who advances to the final four of these playoffs.
Here’s a look at 10 important factors to watch during the weekend’s games.
1. How will the Eagles utilize their Nick Foles-led offense?
It would be fair to say that the Eagles haven’t exactly looked encouraging with Nick Foles under center. He struggled heavily against the Oakland Raiders and looked no better in the season finale against Dallas. The Atlanta Falcons have a strong defense, so Foles will have his hands full any way you look at it. Ultimately, that Carson Wentz injury could end up being the difference between playoff success and failure for Philadelphia.
2. Which defense will reign supreme in Philadelphia?
The Eagles and Falcons boast two of the NFL’s best defenses, and whichever one performs the best may well win the game for their team. Atlanta shut down the Los Angeles Rams during the wild-card round. Their elite run defense could really hamstring a Foles-led Philadelphia offense. The Eagles are no slouches in this department either. If anything, their defense was underrated because many were focusing on Wentz’s excellence during the regular season. The defensive side of the ball is probably where this game will be decided.
If Pat Shurmur lands a head coaching job and the team hiring him has a hole at quarterback, one report indicates he may have a solution to their problem.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Shurmur, the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator, would be interested in bringing quarterback Case Keenum with him to a new team.
Shurmur and Keenum are close, and the quarterback is set to become a free agent. Now that Teddy Bridgewater is healthy, the Vikings would appear unlikely to retain him, especially as he’ll likely be looking to start somewhere after a strong season.
The Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants both have interest in hiring Shurmur, and both teams could be looking for a quarterback.
Keenum won 11 of his 14 starts with the Vikings in 2017, throwing for 3,547 yards. He was even good enough to hold Bridgewater off once he was healthy.
It would be fair to say that this isn’t the strongest field of MVP candidates the NFL has ever seen. Injuries have robbed us of several deserving candidates, and nobody is really having that big, transcendentally good season that makes everyone across the country sit up and take notice.
Still, there are plenty of deserving candidates for the MVP award, though one stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Let’s take a look at the top 10 candidates for 2017’s NFL MVP award.
10) Case Keenum, QB, Vikings
Who would have ever imagined that Keenum would ever end up anywhere near a list like this? As a unit, the Vikings have an elite defense, but we can hardly give an award to an entire group, and Keenum deserves to be singled out anyway. His 20 touchdown passes are easily a career-high, as are his 3,219 yards. Plus, there’s absolutely something to be said for the fact that Keenum walked into a team that, due to injuries, has not been very settled at quarterback. He made the position his own and even held off Teddy Bridgewater to keep it.
9) Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
As far as running backs go, Todd Gurley will get most of the ink. Bell’s numbers, though, are actually better. He leads the league in attempts and yards, having eclipsed 1,200. His 1,849 yards from scrimmage also pace the entire NFL. It helps that he’s on pace to play a full 16 games for only the second time in his career. What hinders his case is the fact that he has two other elite offensive players around him — Antonio Brown at wide receiver and Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has left the door open in recent weeks for Teddy Bridgewater to take over the team’s starting quarterback job, but there will be no speculation heading into Week 13.
Zimmer is not ready to commit to Case Keenum for the remainder of the season, but he said Friday that Keenum is going to start against the Atlanta Falcons next weekend.
The Vikings still consider Bridgewater their QB of the future, but there’s simply no way they can sit Keenum down with the way the team has played. Minnesota’s win over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving was its seventh in a row. With Keenum under center, the Vikings have looked like one of the best — if not the best — teams in the NFC.
Keenum has thrown 14 touchdown passes compared to just five interceptions this season. The belief is that he is on a short leash with Bridgewater healthy and ready to go, though that leash could be a little longer now that the Vikings are on their way to capturing the NFC North crown.