Imagine a world where NFL analysts debated whether the New England Patriots should keep Matt Cassel and trade Tom Brady.
Following a 10-5 season with 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and an 89.4 rating filling in for Brady, there was a case to turn the Patriots’ franchise over to Cassel.
Instead Bill Belichick chose to stick with Brady and deal Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs.
One thing happened first: The Patriots franchise tagged Cassel, who was set to hit the free agent market. Then the Chiefs sent the 34th overall pick and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Pats.
The Minnesota Vikings could follow the same path with Case Keenum.
Filling in for Sam Bradford, Keenum went 12-3 with 22 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 98.3 rating.
Especially if Washington franchise tags Kirk Cousins with the intention to deal him – which ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported as a possibility – Keenum could present an option at a lower asking price for quarterback-desperate teams.
Last week, Bleacher Report draft writer Matt Miller noted that the Denver Broncos “like” Keenum. The Arizona Cardinals do not have a starting QB. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins also might end up looking for a quarterback as well.
The Vikings would have to sacrifice a 2019 compensatory pick that would come along with Keenum, but the highest compensation Minnesota could receiving for Keenum leaving in free agency is a third-round pick.
If they received better than a third-round pick, dealing Keenum would be a worthwhile venture as long as the Vikings are confident in whatever other option they have at quarterback, whether that be Teddy Bridgewater, Cousins or someone else.
Keeping Keenum on the franchise tag would make sense even if the Vikings would prefer Bridgewater simply due to the questions about Bridgewater’s surgically-repaired knee. But the Vikings may be able to find a No. 2 like Josh McCown who could lead the team in similar fashion to Keenum in case Bridgewater went down or wasn’t back to 2015 form.
What could the potential return be for Keenum? Washington dealt a third-round pick and a very good cornerback for Alex Smith. The Patriots got a second-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo. The price for Keenum would likely be similar.
The Vikings could tag Keenum and then wait to see how training camp plays out much like the Philadelphia Eagles did with Sam Bradford in 2016. It would be an option to hold a quarterback competition between Bridgewater and Keenum and wait to see if another team’s quarterback gets hurt in training camp or preseason before moving the loser of the competition.
The Vikings will have to make a decision on tagging Keenum by the deadline March 6.