Report: Case Keenum Could Receive Franchise Tag from Vikings in Offseason

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14:  Quarterback Case Keenum #7 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates as he walks off the field after the Vikings defeated the New Orleans Saints 29-24 to win the NFC divisional round playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 14, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings reportedly may use the franchise tag to retain quarterback Case Keenum for the 2018 season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The franchise tag salary for quarterbacks was set at $21.3 million in 2017, meaning that is likely the lowest price the Vikings should expect to pay if they use the tag on Keenum before the 2018 season.

Keenum, 29, was nothing short of a revelation for Minnesota this season, throwing for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns with seven interceptions while completing 67.6 percent of his passes.

He's 12-3 as a starter this season after helping the Vikings to a divisional round victory over the New Orleans Saints thanks to a legendary Stefon Diggs touchdown reception that will long be remembered as one of the most dramatic finishes in NFL postseason history.

Add it all up, and Keenum has earned the right to be the team's starter next season.

But Minnesota's quarterback situation is complex. Teddy Bridgewater—thought to be the franchise quarterback before a knee injury essentially kept him off the field for two seasons—remains on the roster but will become a free agent in March. Sam Bradford will also be a free agent, though he played well in Minnesota in 2016.

There's an argument to be made that re-signing Bradford and Bridgewater and having them compete for the starting job would be cheaper than using the franchise tag on Keenum or signing him to a long-term deal. And Keenum's likely to be a popular option for quarterback-needy teams if he hits the market this offseason.

Plus, the Vikings will likely have to adjust to a new offensive coordinator in 2018, with Pat Shurmur expected to be named the next head coach of the New York Giants once the Vikings' season ends. With Shurmur gone, recapturing the magic of 2017 may not be easy.

On the other hand, Keenum has obvious chemistry with wideouts Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and the return of standout rookie running back Dalvin Cook—who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 4—will bolster the offense. Keenum has also arguably played better this year than either Bradford or Bridgewater has played for the Vikings.

And the organization can get the best of both worlds by using the franchise tag: It can keep Keenum in place for another run at the Super Bowl while maintaining long-term flexibility in the event he slumps.

Regardless, don't expect Keenum to be all to concerned with the situation until the offseason.

"That was one of the lessons I had to learn—just relax and play," he told Ben Baskin of The MMQB last week. "Don't worry about what's happened in the past, don't worry what's going to happen in the future. You are playing a game you dreamed your whole life about playing. There's no sense in ruining it by worrying or doubting."

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