Joined: 17 Nov 2018
|The time for the Minnesota Vikings to commit anew to a starting quarterback has almost arrived.
They’re still in evaluation mode , according to general manager Rick Spielman.
With Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford each on track to become an unrestricted free agent in two weeks, the Vikings have yet to make any final decisions about any of them. That’s what Spielman said at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday.
”There have been no decisions made, and I know there have been a thousand reports out there,” Spielman said. ”We’re going to move forward and continue to evolve this process through the meetings this week with the agents.”
The most notable report, by the NFL Network this week citing unidentified sources, was that the Vikings don’t plan to use the franchise tag on Keenum. That’s a way they could essentially kick the quarterback-decision can down the road by keeping him for 2018 at a rate in the top tier of current league-wide salaries at the position, which would be well more than $20 million this year. That’s also a lot of money for a player who was a career backup until Bradford’s knee injury after the season opener paved the way for his breakout performance.
Spielman dismissed that report, praising Keenum in general terms after the run to the NFC championship game at eventual champion Philadelphia. He said the Vikings have discussed how Keenum could fit in new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s preferred scheme but otherwise declined to divulge any specific assessment.
”Case Keenum led our football team and did a phenomenal job and has a knack for making plays,” Spielman said. ”He made a lot of big plays for us because of not only his smarts and leadership but his mobility as well.”
Bradford, given the long-term uncertainty about the stability of his knee , is the likely the team’s least-desirable option. Bridgewater carries the same health risk, having not started a meaningful game since the wild card round in the playoffs on Jan. 10, 2016, because of the knee injury that kept him off the field until a brief appearance late last season. He’s younger and cheaper than both Keenum and Bradford, though, which would give the team the most flexibility under the salary cap to sign other stars to pricey contract extensions and upgrade other positions of need.
There’s a murky provision in the collective bargaining agreement that allows a player’s contract to be tolled to the next season if he’s physically unable to perform as of the sixth regular season game. Bridgewater was on the PUP list then, per the minimum stay, but he has said he was fit to play prior to then. Spielman has said the matter would be up to the NFL, but he said Wednesday that he expects Bridgewater to become a free agent like the others.
”I don’t personally believe, with what I know today, that his contract will toll ,” Spielman said, adding: ”One thing I would say is that Teddy has been such a great teammate and is a great person and has been great for our organization. Any time our organization can reach out and help a player, even though it may not benefit us, we are always going to look out for the best interest of our players.”
That of course leaves the open market, where former Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins will be beginning March 14. He’d be more expensive than any of the other three, but the package of his age, durability and resume is the most desirable.
”I haven’t had the chance to pick where I’m going to play since 2007 when I chose to go to Michigan State, so I’m looking forward to that opportunity,” Cousins said during Super Bowl week on an appearance on SiriusXM satellite radio. ”I think it’s a pretty short checklist. At the end of the day: I want to win.”
The Chicago White Sox snapped an eight-game losing streak with a victory Friday night over the Oakland Athletics.
Now, the White Sox will try to start building momentum in a positive direction.
Chicago (25-50) will go for back-to-back wins when it hosts Oakland (39-37) on Saturday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. The White Sox and A’s are coming off a doubleheader split and have two games left in the four-game series on Chicago’s South Side.
The matchup will represent a personal milestone for White Sox right-hander Dylan Covey (3-2, 2.90 ERA) , who will face the A’s for the first time in his career. The A’s drafted him in 2013 in the fourth round, but Chicago selected him in the Rule 5 draft before the start of last season.
Covey endured a turbulent 2017 campaign but has performed much better this time around. The 26-year-old went five straight starts without a defeat before falling short in his most recent outing Monday against the Cleveland Indians. He gave up four earned runs on six hits over six innings in that 6-2 defeat.
This will be Covey’s 20th start in the big leagues. He is 3-9 with a 5.95 ERA in his career.
“On the outside looking in, I would say he’s on a path that leads us to believe he’s turning a corner and getting to where you feel comfortable with all of his approaches, when he’s attacking hitters, and that’s going to be able to have this become a sustainable activity for him,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “The stuff is good. It’s always going to be, for all pitchers, trusting the stuff and commanding strikes.”
For Oakland, right-hander Daniel Mengden (6-6, 4.06 ERA) is set to make his 16th start of the season. The Houston Astros drafted Mengden in the fourth round in 2014, and he was traded to Oakland the next season as part of a package for veteran left-hander Scott Kazmir.
Kazmir has not pitched in the big leagues since 2016 , but Mengden appears to have a bright future at age 25. He has struggled recently, however, allowing 16 earned runs in his past 14 1/3 innings for a 10.05 ERA during that span. He has given up eight home runs in that time.
In his only career appearance against the White Sox earlier this season, Mengden allowed only one run and six hits in eight innings. He walked one and struck out six while picking up the win in Oakland’s 8-1 victory.
A’s outfielder Matt Joyce could remain in the lineup one day after he was activated from the 10-day disabled list with a lumbar strain. He hit .196 with seven home runs and 13 RBIs before the injury, and he went 0-for-2 in his return Friday night.
“Obviously, he’s been a big part of our lineup,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said to mlb.com. “Maybe not the year he envisioned up to this point, but we feel like he’s swung the bat a lot better than his numbers would suggest. He had a couple of hits the last couple of games, and he’s healthy again.”
The White Sox are 13-25 at home. The A’s are 19-17 on the road.