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Long shot? Veteran? Rookie? What’s the Vikings’ plan at backup quarterback?

Dec 19, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s John Clayton has about backup quarterbacks: If you have a good one, then you can go .500 while your starter is out.

By that measure, the Vikings have been in good shape the last two seasons with Shaun Hill, who is 17-18 with a 84.9 quarterback rating for his career. In his only start, Hill was good enough (with a lot of help from the Vikings’ defense) to beat the Tennessee Titans.

While Hill hasn’t announced yet that he’s retiring, it seems pretty likely that the 37-year-old won’t be back in Minnesota next year.

When it comes to replacing a backup QB, there are three approaches that teams take: A veteran, a long-shot or a rookie. Which one of them would make the most sense for the Vikings?

The Wily Veteran

This would be your Shaun Hill. A quarterback who wasn’t all that effective as a starter because of whatever shortcoming in his game (in Hill’s case, that would be arm strength), but they can still get the job done for a few games if need be.

Pros: You know what you’re going to get. You will not have to worry about the wily veteran understanding the offense or being ready to go at a moment’s notice. More likely than not, he will be happy to still have an NFL job and understand he won’t be seeing the field unless someone gets hurt. If you’ve got a good one like Hill, he can work hand-in-hand with the starter on game planning and preparation.

Cons: Any type of extended action assuredly means your season is going in the tank. Two years ago, the Dallas Cowboys traded for Matt Cassel, hoping to save their season. They ended up picking fourth overall. There is also zero upside. No chance whatsoever that this quarterback could eventually be your full-time starter or net you a decent draft pick in a trade.

Available veterans:

Ryan Fitzpatrick – The Jets made the same mistake as the Bills believing Fitzpatrick could be a legit starter. As a backup, however, it’s hard to do much better.

Mark Sanchez – When he last acted as a fill-in for the Eagles, Sanchez went 4-4 with an 88.4 rating.

TJ Yates – Stepped in as Houston’s starter for four games in 2015, won three including a playoff game, but has a 72.8 rating in the regular season and 53.8 in his two playoff appearances.

Blaine Gabbert – The 49ers gave Gabbert one more kick at the starter can in ’15 and it wasn’t pretty. With an 80.2 rating in 13 starters as a 49er, Gabbert might go .500 on a decent team.

Case Keenum – Won the Rams job last year and was benched midway through the season. Still, went 7-7 as STL/LA starter with a 79.5 rating.

Bottom line:

This is the direction the Vikings probably would most like to go. They need to have a sure thing behind Sam Bradford.

The Long Shot

There is some reason to believe that this player could be really, really good if everything goes right, even if the quarterback’s recent play doesn’t suggest that. Whether it’s because of “bust” status, sometimes or “washed up” or relegated to backup status, these players get picked up with hopes of a turnaround.

Pros: When it works, it’s a home run. Everything clicks, the quarterback maximizes his potential and becomes a franchise quarterback. Steve Young was one of these. To some extent, Carson Palmer and Kurt Warner with Arizona. Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon and Jeff George in Minnesota. Jake Delhomme in Carolina.

Cons: It rarely works. And when it doesn’t, it’s often a disaster. Long-Shot QBs usually believe they have something special there, so when they don’t, it can be an ugly. They can end up becoming problematic in the locker room and practice if they feel jilted or distracting because of media coverage or just downright awful to the point where they can’t even fill in effectively.

Available long shots:

Colin Kaepernick – Was good enough to take a team to the Super Bowl, but hasn’t performed well since and brings a lot of media attention

Robert Griffin III – Once appeared to be the league’s next big thing, then suffered a serious knee injury. Hasn’t been the same since

Johnny Manziel – A first-round pick who flashed some talent, but had too many issues to count during his time in Cleveland.

Ryan Nassib – Behind Eli Manning, Nassib never really saw the field. He lacks a strong arm, but might be an intriguing option.

Bottom line:

The Vikings aren’t really in a position to be giving out second chances and they certainly don’t need any distractions in a locker room that was on rocky ground at times last year.

The Rookie

Usually rookie backup quarterbacks are drafted in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft with some hope that they can either be a reliable backup or develop into a starter.

Pros: TOM BRADY. RUSSELL WILSON. DAK PRESCOTT.

Cons: The rookie isn’t even close to being an NFL player and it becomes painfully obvious as soon as he’s thrown into the fire at training camp. Then you either have to scramble to find a veteran backup from the bottom of the barrel or hope that he never has to actually play.

(Likely) Available rookies (with CBS Sports scouting reports summarized)

Josh Dobbs, Tennessee – Literally a rocket scientist, but a pretty inconsistent football player

Davis Webb, Cal – Tall guy with an arm and good numbers. Known as a “system quarterback.”

Nate Peterman, Pitt – Has good numbers and an arm, but played in simple offense, struggled with reads.

Jerod Evans, VT – Big, strong armed and fast. Played in a very simple offense.

Brad Kaaya, Miami – Accurate with good mechanics. Not a great decision maker.

Bottom line:

Whether The Rookie is slotted for No. 2 or battles for No. 3 spot, the Vikings should absolutely draft a quarterback this year with hopes of finding something special or at least a solid backup.

  • BT

    Sam Bradford sucks!!!!! Anybody with balls would help! I would take Cutler,Romo over Bradford dink n dunk my freakn life away!!!

    http://www.sportsgrid.com/real-sports/nfl/8-stats-that-highlight-just-how-much-sam-bradford-sucks/

    • Bob T.

      Who do you have willing to take Sam? They didn’t believe any one would take Adrian so they released him. The difference is Sam will cost us 4 mil in dead cap plus money owed past March 7th, and a first round that we gave to Philly. I like my plan better

      • BT

        Reality is we’re stuck! Our OC, Slick Rick, Zim hard headed/stubborn asF
        All we can hope is we have a good backup or Rookie all likely Sam gets hurt or goes through season and we finish like he has his whole career out of playoffs! Wilfs clean house truth be told might be sad for Zim but all the stubbornness has put us where we are!

        • Bob T.

          I think we are going to have to agree to disagree, because I can accept that in a multi million dollar company, mistakes (plural) might be made. However, you insinuate there are more and at a level that I can’t buy. I believe this was a grade B free agency. They didn’t overpay too bad considering the options, and they got what they needed. 2 OL and a RB and a DT. The draft will have options on the board that wasn’t there 2 weeks ago.

          • Jeeves

            You da man, Brother Bob. SKOL!

          • Bob T.

            Well there you are. Sure nice to see you my brother.

          • Jeeves

            Same here, Pal. I drop by TVA every now and then. Looks like the idiots have completely taken over. They’re even recruiting Prep to come back and try to generate clicks. The writing is much more in depth here. Some pretty good people post here, for the most part.
            I was reminded the other day of our conversation about SD (Some Days) when he was acting like a victim because “the Vikings weren’t supporting him”. It marked the time that we started losing respect for him and it’s been all downhill since then.
            SKOL Brother! Damn good to see you.

          • Bob T.

            I kind of stumbled on this last night. I did see you peak in at TVA, and you are right, it hasn’t changed much. I better get the salt off the chariots. Hope your business is booming. Stay cool. Peace and SKOL !!!!

          • mysterygueststar

            Me too,me too…I wanna play!! SKOL Viking Brothers. SKOL VIKINGS!!

          • Jeeves

            You don’t need an invitation, you mysterious SOB. You’re always welcome.
            SKOL my Carolinian friend!

        • BT

          Also what explosiveness do we have on offense? Diggs is good but can he show up for more than 5 games a season? McKinnon,Thielen,Wright, ok role players Murray please!
          Maybe we wont be stubborn and throw to Treawell he was the best receiver in SEC jury still out! With Bradford at helm no FA will want to come and with Rick drafting will Zim play his picks?? NFL purgatory smh
          #Bradfordsucks!!!

          • Bob T.

            I think many will agree it starts with the O-Line. I can throw you a 5 and out with time. I can also hand it to you and you can run through the front 7. They worked on that this year, taking R&R with their first two moves. No we didn’t get Whitworth and/or Wagner, but we got a whole lot better than Matador Clemmings and Sirles who were both out of position because of injuries in my opinion. The point is, we can go depth in the draft. That IMO is where you create a good ball club.

          • BT

            BobT I agree with you O line is where it starts we got better no question.
            But Bradford is a First read guy has quick release quick dump offs that’s why high completion percentage.
            Good O-line or not Sam doesn’t have good pocket awareness doesn’t step up well. That’s why we need explosive players who can get YAC!
            It’s a QB league and Sam Bradford has enough to get you to 8-8 fools gold at least with Teddy we had hope! All I’m asking is don’t settle for mediocrity #Bradfordsucks!

          • Scott Myhre

            You guys are all talking as if Teddy is toast? Do you know something about him that I don’t? Give him another 8 months to get well and I have a feeling that Teddy Two Gloves will be back in action. That is my hope and prayer. If we can get by with Heinicke until then we should be in great shape!

          • MrRob1369

            He is toast He will never step on a field again as a player

          • Scott Myhre

            Too many variables to rubber stamp him as gone, so I guess we’ll just agree to disagree! I’ve worked in the medical field long enough to know that what we can do nowadays with injuries such as Teddy’s is phenomenal. If his knee responds, he can come back as strong as Adrian once did. Just sayin~

          • IrreverentOne

            You cannot make the comparison between AP and Bridgewater. If the injury that Teddy had is as bad as we have heard the odds are stacked against his return to football.

          • Bob T.

            Since college Sam hasn’t had an O-Line. With one he will set more than the record he set last year

    • Gordon Guffey

      You can look at all the stats you want too ~ We all know the OL was more than a bess last year and that is where everything starts ~

      However what it doesn;t show is how Sam played when he had time to see the field ~ As for him being a one read QB its all he had time for ~

      Here is almost 20mins worth of Bradford play from lest year when he time to read ~ Its clear not only can Bradford get the ball down the field he can throw into small windows ~ Stats can’t show you this ~
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFeW546kDWo

      • BT

        Show me a Two-Minute drive Sam actually made something happen for us to win game. How many passes with no pressure on 3rd down were 5yrds short or worse thrown behind LOS. How many times could he have helped TJ by just stepping up in pocket? His entire career has been based off quick release and yes we did improve O-Line, but R&R, Boone aren’t putting fear in any DL men. How many times were we in Redzone and did he actually throw into end zone?
        Don’t fool yourself We lost out on FA because of our QB!

        • Gordon Guffey

          You show me a OL that can protect him and I will show you a 2 min drill where he is able to do something ~

          • Jeeves

            Plus we have to teach Rudy that the object is to get BEYOND the first down marker, not just near it.

          • BT

            https://youtu.be/DLKxM4G7uX4
            Coller nails it!
            Listen to professional analysis!

          • Gordon Guffey

            Again you are going off what other people think ~ I’m going off what I see with my own eyes and the tape you can replay anytime you feel the need too ~ I could care less about what Viking Insight has to say ~ Two goobers saying what they think means nothing when you see what Bradford can do given time ~

          • BT

            Eye test says Bradford has PTSD from all those injuries and don’t like to get hit that’s why he throws scared and fast! Last time I checked Coller gets paid to watch Vikings games The rest of us have to pay!
            Bet you thought Ponder was great too!!

          • Gordon Guffey

            Your welcome to believe that if you like ~ Good day and you will have to find someone else to fuss with seeing how thats all you want to do ~ Ponders name never came into what we are talking about nor any other Viking player’s name (((outside of Bradford’s ))) for that matter ~ See now you’re just reaching for crap ~ And good for Coller for getting paid ~ My hat is off to him for being a good enough writer to get paid for it ~ Doesn’t mean he is right more than 50% of the time ~ Again you guys are cracking me up ~ Have a good day Sir ~

          • Gordon Guffey

            LOL ~ Listen to professional analysis!

        • Gordon Guffey

          Here is you a two min. drill ~ And its against a fairly good defense ~
          It starts at the 6 min 52 sec. mark ~ I’m sure there are more if you look back over what Bradford has done when given time ~ However I’m not looking for you ~ I just happen to see this when I was bored and watching some film of last season ~ Enjoy Smile Face 🙂
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5txKtBNDVo

          • BT

            How did that game end? Hmmm

          • Gordon Guffey

            It ended with Bradford getting hit in the head as he threw the ball ~ It should have been a flag against the Cowboys ~ What game were you watching ~ ??? Surely you saw it ~ Plus Sirles jumped offsides the play before backing them up 5 yards ~ Which brings me back to my point of the OL ~ Had the OL been able to block and someone was able to get open I can’t see that 2 point play being any different than the play where he threw the TD ~

            Man you sure have some real hate for Bradford for whatever the reason ~ I believe we are done with this subject ~

      • David Prestin

        Bradford took a lickin and kept tickin for the Vikings last year. How anybody can vent so much hate towards Bradford boggles the mind. I am really hoping to see him in yr 2 as a Viking. Here’s hoping our ol improves to give him some time to pick apart the defenses we face next season.

    • Gordon Guffey

      After a 20+ int season by your picks of either Cutler,Romo and you would be even more upset at them that you would be with the play of Bradford in 2016 ~

      A lot of QB’s have or have ad dink and dunk in their game plan because of the play of the OL ~ Bradford is no different ~

  • Bob T.

    I have Bradford Heineke and Bridgewater. Bringing in Towles late in the 7th round of the draft

  • Marc Spector

    I’ll go with RG3

  • NJR

    I don’t think Kaepernick would be a terrible option at backup. He is going to be cheap since there seems to be no market for him.

  • Jeeves

    The Vikings thought enough of Taylor Heinicke in ’15 to keep him on the 53 man roster all season. Last year they felt pretty good going into the preseason with Teddy, Shaun and Taylor. Then the wheels fell off. Taylor found out why his parents didn’t name him Bruce and later Teddy had a freak injury. Their failure to act after Heinicke’s accident was what set them up for the crisis when Teddy got hurt.
    I could see them waiting to see what they have in Heinicke before acquiring an overpriced washed up backup.

  • Andre Esters

    Doing anything in the QB realm could easily ruffle Bradford’s fine feathers… look at how the Wentz draft pick went in Philly…

    Then again, Bradford would have to be a special kind of silly not to realize he’s had his first FULL season in forever. Minnesota has no options behind him. The dude is getting paid, so asking for an extension would tacky and acting “hurt” if they draft or sign a free agent would be even worse. His decent stats behind a battered O-line and nonexistent run game puts him in the drivers seat of Minnesota’s entire offense. Either he can ride smoothly knowing he has the Vikes by the balls, or he could get cocky and squeeze them while they have little to fall back on.

    My vote is for keeping Heineke and drafting a rookie like Peterman out of Pitt.

  • MrRob1369

    The back up is on the roster already

  • Lester Stkl

    stupid. even w bradford vikes will likely lose. without it him playing a full season does anyone think the deopes named in this article will bring a Division win? No way. dont waste the money. Taylor should be back up and the vIkes should pick webb from Cal. He is under the radar big time and is likely the best sleeper QB in draft.

  • David Prestin

    Gabbert is only one I’d try. But I am also interested in seeing how far Heineken has come. Good arm, mobile, young. But as his injury shows, not brightest candle out there lol. And yes, I misspelled his name on purpose.

  • chrishill9

    Bring back Hill. Good name.





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Previous Story Even with Murray signing, Jerick McKinnon is still key in Vikings offense Next Story After losing out on Cook, Vikings should still be seeking another tight end