After a magical year in Minnesota, quarterback Case Keenum’s future is now in flux.
Keenum is one of three starting-caliber quarterbacks on the Vikings’ roster who officially becomes a free agent at the beginning of the new league year in March. The Vikings can decide to use the franchise tag on their 2017 starter, who led the team to a 13-3 regular season record and a playoff win, or they can let him hit the market, where he is sure to land a huge contract.
“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 said on radio row with 1500ESPN’s Mackey and Judd. “At the same time, we understand tough decisions have to be made and so we’ll see what happens.”
The former Rams and Texans quarterback said he hasn’t had a chance to fully reflect on his rise from journeyman backup to starting QB this season because of the Vikings a 38-7 loss to Philadelphia in the NFC Championship ga,e.
“It still really stings how the season ended. Slowly but surely I’m getting there,” Keenum said. “We’re all realizing that there were a lot of cool moments that happened this year. A lot of cool things that nobody can take away from us ever. That’s us as a team, us as Vikings fans, it was a great season. It didn’t end like we wanted it to, but we had a blast and we did a lot of great things.”
Throughout the season, it appeared the Vikings were unsure whether Keenum could continue his hot streak. Head coach Mike Zimmer – despite being prodded by the national media to do so – would not name Keenum the full-time starting QB. Keenum said he was not bothered by Zimmer’s handling of the QB situation.
“I didn’t worry about it, man, that’s coach Zimmer’s decision on how he wanted to handle it,” Keenum said. “I don’t even know if he named me the starter for the NFC Championship game, you guys just got tired of asking the question. However he wanted to deal with it, that’s great. For me, there’s a lot of outside noise and I just kept my blinders on, kept doing my job, moving forward and I think it worked out.”
If Keenum does return, he will do so with a new offensive coordinator. Vikings’ 2017 OC Pat Shurmur left to take over as head coach of the New York Giants. The team is in the process of completing interviews. The list includes Keenum’s QB coach Kevin Stefanski.
“Every year every team is different, coaching staffs and players, for [Shurmur] to get an opportunity to be a head coach, heck yeah, that’s awesome,” Keenum said. “He’s a great coach, he deserves it, he had a heck of a year. He did really, really, really, really well putting together gameplans and presenting them to the offense. Calling games, man, he did a great job. I have a lot of respect for him and I know he’s going to do really well as the Giants head coach.”
Whether he stays or goes, Vikings fans will always remember Keenum as the author of one of the greatest moments in franchise history, his 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs to defeat the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
“That hasn’t sunk in and it will continue to sink in probably for the rest of my life,” Keenum said. “I wasn’t able to enjoy that play, that day – I mean, I did that night with my friends and family that came into town – but we were trying to get over it and get onto the next one. You could say there was some hangover or whatever it was. It was an emotional day, it was an emotional week, I’ll definitely going to enjoy it for the rest of my life, it’s something you can’t ever take away from us.”
LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE