Minnesota Vikings: Bargain quarterback options

Aug 27, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) leaves the field following the win over the Los Angeles Rams at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Rams 17-9. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 27, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) leaves the field following the win over the Los Angeles Rams at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Rams 17-9. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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After Teddy Bridgewater’s devastating injury, the Vikings have no viable options at quarterback. The team may be forced to look to the outcasts of other teams for relief.

When Teddy Bridgewater went down untouched on the practice field, the entire 2016 season went up in flames for the Minnesota Vikings. There is simply no other way of putting it. Despite the numerous, outspoken critics in the media, the general population, and even the Vikings’ fanbase, the young quarterback was an irreplaceable part of a very talented and promising team.

Irreplaceable. That’s what brings us to our current predicament. Many fans are clamoring for a magic bullet solution to get the team through the year and keep them playing at a high level, but that is simply not possible. While high-profile backups like AJ McCarron, Josh McCown, Brian Hoyer, Chase Daniel, and Mike Glennon are frequently being brought up as trade options, the Vikings simply have no shot at acquiring them.

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Every team in the NFL just watched a starting quarterback go from healthy to injured reserve in the blink of an eye on a routine, non-contact dropback. Nobody is looking to deal a talented backup quarterback.

Furthermore, the Vikings have no leverage in trade negotiations. Everyone knows that the Vikings need a quarterback, and the price for one will be driven astronomically high as a result. With the asking price for a quality backup already shockingly high (the Buccaneers reportedly turned down a second-round pick for Mike Glennon earlier this year), there is virtually no chance that the Vikings will trade for a top-tier backup quarterback.

That’s not to say that the Vikings shouldn’t pursue anyone, however. Shaun Hill lacks the arm strength and mobility to lead the Vikings with any great success, so signing a quarterback to eventually take over for him is crucial. Given the state of the quarterback market, the Vikings will have to be strategic in who they target and look to cost-effective options.

There are no inspiring players currently on the market, but with cuts looming there are a number of decent players who may come available due to their awkward fit on their rosters.

Mark Sanchez is one such name that jumps out. With Trevor Siemian winning the starting job and rookie Paxton Lynch waiting in the wings, Sanchez is the odd man out of the trio and could be cut if the Broncos opt to go with only two quarterbacks. While he has had a disappointing and inconsistent career, he is still a more talented option than Shaun Hill and would be able to take over early in the season.

Geno Smith could be a similar option. With an established starter in Ryan Fitzpatrick and two developmental quarterbacks in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, the Jets really don’t have any space for Geno on the roster. Like Sanchez, Geno’s career has been defined largely by inconsistency and critical mistakes, but he’s actually flashed great skill at times. There aren’t any obvious options for the Vikings, but from a football perspective Geno makes a lot of sense. Whether Mike Zimmer is willing to put up with his questionable attitude is another story entirely.

Finally, while this might not be well received by most Vikings fans, Christian Ponder could be a very good signing if he’s cut by the 49ers. The 49ers have a very crowded quarterback room, with Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, and rookie Jeff Driskel all worthy of roster spots. As such, Christian Ponder will more than likely become a free agent in the coming days. Ponder’s first stint in Minnesota was forgettable at best, but unfortunately he might be one of the only passable options for the Vikings.

Next: Vikings vs. Rams: What to watch for

None of these three quarterbacks are the cure-all answer that fans are looking for, but they all offer decent value as short-term solutions. Spending significant draft capital in a panicked trade would be a bad move for the Vikings, and would be detrimental to the teams’ long-term outlook. While it might not be what fans want, the smartest move is to wait, sign a player like one of the three outlined above who is cut, and wait for him to learn the offense and take over for Shaun Hill early in the season.