Before third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a horrifying dislocated left knee and torn ACL, the Minnesota Vikings found themselves on many prognosticators’ short lists of NFC Super Bowl contenders.
Now that Bridgewater’s expected to be out at least a year after surgery to repair the damage and rehabilitation to return to form, the Vikings can either defend their NFC North crown and make a championship run with veteran Shaun Hill or explore options on the trade market for another quarterback.
However, according to a report from Cleveland.com, if the Vikings hope to pry Josh McCown from the Cleveland Browns the price will be quite hefty and perhaps too expensive.
A source told the website the Vikings are “exploring all of their options,” and McCown, along with Denver’s Mark Sanchez, Tampa Bay’s Mike Glennon, free agent Michael Vick, and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, are all likely on Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman’s radar.
There are several caveats Minnesota will have to consider when it comes to McCown. For one, he’s a 37-year-old scheduled to make $4.375 million this year and $3.65 million next season. Those are figures that will eat up a Vikings salary cap that could instead be used to pay the already considerable talent they have on both sides of the ball. To put that in perspective, tackles Andre Smith and Matt Khalil, wide receiver and returner Cordarrelle Patterson, and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn are all unrestricted free agents next year.
Pledging that much money to an older, stop-gap quarterback, even if Minnesota and Bridgewater believe he can rediscover the form that made him such a promising young signal caller, wouldn’t be too expensive if Cleveland were willing to lower the high price.
The report stresses Minnesota has extra picks in the third and fourth rounds of next year’s draft, but first-year Browns general manager Paul DePodesta likely understands how much leverage he would have in any negotiations with Spielman and could easily hold out until Minnesota reaches a breaking point.
However, even though McCown has a poor win-loss record as a starter (18-39) he may be able to fill the considerable leadership crater left in the wake of Bridgewater’s injury. The former Louisville star has been praised for his development since Minnesota selected him in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but he hasn’t exactly overwhelmed opposing defenses with a full-out aerial assault.
But in the last day, amid reports of how upset his Vikings teammates were and how the sudden injury even caused some to be sick on the practice field, it’s clear the roster had rallied around Bridgewater as its leader and field general.
McCown did pull off a similar feat last year with the Browns. While Cleveland was wrestling with the idea of making former first-round pick Johnny Manziel its full-time starter, numerous reports alleged the team wanted McCown because it believed he put them in the best position to win.
Still, the Vikings could hold firm and go with Hill. The 36-year-old enters his second stint with the Vikings with a solid career completion percentage (62.0). Hill even managed a respectable 3-5 record as a starter last year with a Rams offense that had few options aside from running back Todd Gurley.
It’s reasonable to think Hill can pull off a similar feat with a much stronger Vikings defense and All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson requiring so much attention from opponents like Gurley.