Going into free agency, the Vikings knew that a few impact players from their 2017 team would be headed elsewhere. Three such players have already agreed to new contracts elsewhere: Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater and Jerick McKinnon.
Of the three quarterbacks from the Vikings 2017 roster, it always appeared Bradford was least likely to be back. It was not that he could not play the position at a high level. Rather, his availability was constantly a question. However, with a desperate need for a quarterback, the Cardinals and Bradford have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $20 million dollar contract, $15 million guaranteed. This appears to be a win-now move for Arizona, given the length of the deal and Larry Fitzgerald‘s age.
So the Vikings lose what many would say was their best overall quarterback. When healthy, Bradford could make every single throw on the field with ease. He throws a great deep ball with touch and can fit the ball into tight windows. The Cardinals are betting on the health of Bradford, but with only a one-year deal, it does not mortgage the future of the team. Plus, Bradford will have some top-notch weapons in Arizona, namely Fitzgerald and David Johnson.
The key for the Cardinals is keeping Bradford healthy. He is not a mobile quarterback and is prone to take bad hits. A strong offensive line to give him time and space to throw the ball will determine how successful this run will be.
Bridgewater’s departure was much harder for fans to stomach. Sure, the reports are that the Vikings have signed Kirk Cousins. But fans fell in love with Bridgewater. It was his infectious smile and leadership abilities that had fans gushing over him. It was how determined he was to return from his terrible injury and the fan base rallied around him. To most, Bridgewater was more than just a quarterback.
However, with the two sides moving on, he signed with the Jets on a $5-6 million deal for one year with incentives. The Jets also signed Josh McCown to a one-year, $10 million dollar deal, as well. Word is that McCown is the starter, but with his age, most assume Bridgewater saw the Jets as the best opportunity to compete for the starting job.
The Jets are getting a quarterback that the fans and team will rally behind. Brigewater is a leader, through and through. On the field, he possesses good pocket presence and mobility with the ability to move the pocket and make plays on the run. Where Bridgewater needs to improve is his deep ball accuracy. He excelled in the intermediate throws, but the Jets have a receiver in Robby Anderson that thrives on the deep ball. In essence, Bridgewater is a moderate risk with potential for great reward.
Most fans knew McKinnon would not return after a fine 2017 season. Ever since joining the Vikings, he had put up good numbers in a crowded backfield. Of all the Vikings leaving, this is the one that will have the greatest immediate negative impact. Yes, Dalvin Cook will be back. But McKinnon’s skill set was vital, especially after Cook’s injury this past year.
The 49ers and McKinnon agreed to a massive four-year, $30 million dollar contract, according to reports. Minnesota simply was not in position for a bidding war with a third back, despite his value. With this deal, McKinnon becomes the lead back in San Francisco, at least for the time being. With Kyle Shanahan calling the pays, it is hard to imagine a better landing spot for McKinnon. 49ers fans are going to love how electric he is with the ball in his hands. He can catch the ball out of the back field, but also has the ability to be a double digit carry player, despite his smaller frame. He is undoubtedly one of strongest players for his size in the NFL. San Francisco will still be in the hunt for offensive weapons. But McKinnon and Jimmy Garoppolo is an excellent starting point for their offense.