It appears the Vikings were dealt a significant blow on Tuesday when Teddy Bridgewater went down with a serious left knee injury. The team cancelled practice as players were noticeably shaken up by Bridgewater’s injury, and it appears to be a serious one. He was taken to a nearby hospital via ambulance, which isn’t something that often happens for a minor leg injury, or even an ACL for that matter. Head coach Mike Zimmer called it a significant knee injury in his press conference, confirming it was of the non-contact variety. With Bridgewater likely out for an extended period of time, the Vikings will need to find a replacement. Here are five potential options, one of whom is already on the roster.
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The 49ers are in a precarious situation with Colin Kaepernick. His national anthem protest created a lot of controversy, but his play on the field has also stirred up trade rumors, as well as talks suggesting the 49ers could cut the quarterback. His contract makes both of those difficult, but if he were to be moved by San Francisco, he could be a viable replacement for Bridgewater. The Vikings offense will depend on Adrian Peterson as it has for years, but Kaepernick can bring another dynamic aspect to Minnesota with his mobility and arm strength. Both of those traits have tapered off and seemingly degraded of late, but he’s still a good athlete. Kaepernick is the most expensive option, but he may also be the best if he were to be released.
Now that Trevor Siemian is the starter and Paxton Lynch is the future, the Broncos have a decision to make. Do they keep Sanchez as an expensive backup to Siemian, or trade him to a quarterback-needy team? The Broncos likely won’t need him this season unless Siemian completely tanks and Lynch proves he’s not ready for the spotlight. If the Vikings are willing to give up a late-round pick and take on his $4.5 million salary, they could be able to pry Sanchez from Denver. He wouldn’t be the best replacement for the far-superior Bridgewater, but he’d be an upgrade over current backup Shaun Hill. Of course, the Vikings could wait it out and see if Denver cuts Sanchez before Saturday’s 53-man cut-down day, which would allow them to sign him to a cheaper contract.
Like the Broncos, the Jets have a surplus of quarterbacks and could be willing to move one of them. Geno Smith, who’s entering the final year of his contract, is the most likely candidate and the Jets have already fielded calls regarding a potential trade. It probably wouldn’t take much for Minnesota to land Smith – a mid-to-late-round pick should do the job – though they might be better suited to wait until Saturday’s deadline. After all, there’s no chance the Jets will carry four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, so either he or Bryce Petty will be moved in some fashion.
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Josh McCown is firmly entrenched as the Browns’ backup quarterback to Robert Griffin III. Cleveland has been reluctant to trade him, given RG3’s injury history and the uncertainty surrounding him, but perhaps it would be willing to move him for a draft pick. The Cowboys reportedly explored that possibility but the asking price and McCown’s $4.7 million salary were too high for their liking. Of all the options, McCown arguably has the best track record in recent years. Since 2013, he’s completed 61.6 percent of his passes with 36 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. His record, though, is just 5-19. McCown won’t be cut so a trade will have to happen in order for Minnesota to land him.
The most likely scenario is that Shaun Hill replaces Bridgewater under center. He’s started 34 career games, including eight for the Rams in 2014, boasting a 16-18 record. He’s thrown 49 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in 10 seasons but has only attempted seven passes with the Vikings. He’s most familiar with Mike Zimmer’s scheme and offense, which is a plus should the Vikings choose to roll with him at quarterback. He’s just not going to push the ball downfield or make the same plays Bridgewater would have. There’s a reason he’s been a career backup and journeyman quarterback, and that’s because he lacks arm talent and playmaking ability.