It appears as though Case Keenum, the current Denver Broncos quarterback, will be plying his trade elsewhere next season. As many of you may know, Broncos’ GM John Elway pulled the trigger on a deal with the Ravens to bring Joe Flacco to the Mile High City which pretty much signaled the end of the Case Keenum era in Denver. Elway will look to trade the veteran signal caller, offer a pay cut, or send him packing without compensation. Of those three possibilities, the least likely scenario is Keenum being offered a reduced rate in the second year of his two-year pact, and him accepting those terms. The reason the Broncos won’t do it, or shouldn’t do it, is because it’s never a good situation when a former starter is holding a clipboard for the new guy who stole his job. It can divide a team, those whose loyalties remain with the erstwhile starter and those who embrace their new teammate. If you believe in team chemistry, this would be like adding ammonia to bleach – toxic.
The parallels are strikingly similar to the Vikings wooing Keenum back to the fold. Different betting sites, found over at Sportsbook Review, are relatively optimistic about Minnesota’s chances next year to contend. Most of them are hanging the Vikings as the third choice, tied with Chicago, to win the NFC Championship at 8-1, trailing only the Rams and Saints. However, that optimism could be flushed if the Vikings were to do the unexpected and bring Keenum back as the No. 2 man behind Kirk Cousins, as it would be a quarterback controversy waiting to happen. Imagine 66,000 plus people chanting Keenum’s name after every interception thrown by Cousins. It wouldn’t be pretty and head coach Mike Zimmer was never a huge Keenum supporter even when he was enjoying his finest season as a pro back in 2017 while in Minnesota.
Now that we have put to bed any notion that Keenum Magic will be conjured next season in Minneapolis, lets’ talk about a Vikings’ linebacker who may not be in the mix for Minnesota next season. The team’s ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Anthony Barr, is a free agent and one looking for beaucoup dough. Barr was selected as a team captain last season with the expectations that he would lead an even better iteration of the defense that devoured opponents in 2017. As we all know now, that never happened, and the Vikings run defense was a shadow of their former selves last season. Barr’s play dropped noticeably as well, with his lowest career output of tackles (55) and repeated difficulty shedding blocks.
The Vikings’ brass may surmise that it was simply an off year for a linebacker that should be coming into his prime years at age 26, but at what price? There is little doubt that Barr’s agent will endeavor to get his client paid commensurate with some of the best in the game. However, if we look at the barometer set by Luke Kuechly, we see a five-year deal worth north of $61 million with a $19 million signing bonus and $34 million guaranteed for an average cap hit of $12 million annually. That’s quite a commitment to a player that failed to get it done in the last season of his contract with free agency looming. Yet, if Barr doesn’t find another team willing to part with that kind of cash, a cap friendly deal laden with incentives could see Barr return to the Vikings’ defense and watch his vast potential fulfilled in the ensuing years. Minnesota has holes to fill and will require a retooling of their team if they are to reclaim the NFC North and become a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The next few months will tell the tale and Anthony Barr is just one issue which needs to be dealt with sooner or later.