The time for the Minnesota Vikings to commit anew to a starting quarterback has almost arrived.
They're still in evaluation mode Forrest Lamp Jersey , 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 Marcus Gilchrist Jersey , 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 Tyler Lockett Jersey ," 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."
LeBron James recovered quickly from his neck strain. There’s still too much stress on his back.
He’s carrying the Cavaliers. It’s a springtime tradition.
As has been the case for much of his 15-year career, James has had to perform at an extraordinary level throughout these playoffs, most recently in Cleveland’s Game 2 loss at Boston.
Bouncing back after taking a blow to the jaw from Jayson Tatum’s shoulder that violently twisted his head and sent a chill down the spines of Cleveland fans, James finished with 42 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
It was not enough, however. His teammates failed him and the Cavs fell into a 2-0 hole in the Eastern Conference finals.
Kevin Love (22 points, 15 rebounds) helped, so did Kyle Korver (four 3-pointers) and Tristan Thompson (8 points, 7 rebounds). But too many other Cavs ranged from mediocre to awful.
If Cleveland is to even the series at home, that has to change starting in Game 3 on Saturday.
”We have to ramp it up,” said J.R. Smith, who didn’t score in Game 2 and committed a critical flagrant foul. ”We’re playing too slow. We’re making `Bron play hero ball, which is tough to do, especially in the Eastern Conference finals. We got to help him. With that said, we have to give him an opportunity to make him feel confident to give us the ball so we can make the right plays. We got to help him and he’s got to help us.”
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said James ”did everything” in practice Thursday Ito Smith Jersey , but the 33-year-old had left the floor by the time media members were allowed in for interviews. James was spotted in the fitness and training area inside the facility.
Lue said the Cavs spent time breaking down video of the two losses. There was plenty to dissect.
Cleveland has had puzzling defensive lapses, and Lue said there were up to nine instances in Game 2 alone where communication breakdowns led to easy baskets or open shots for the Celtics.
On offense, Lue feels Smith and point guard George Hill, who have been outscored 72-12 in two games by Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, need to be more aggressive and attack the basket.
Smith believes it’s simpler than that.
”Make shots, that’s the only thing we can do,” said Smith, who is 2 for 17 and 0 for 7 on 3-pointers in the series. ”I mean obviously we can do more on the defensive side, but our main focus is to make shots right now when we get it. If we don’t have them, try to make the next-best play. Right now `Bron and Kev are working overly hard, trying to carry us. We just got to step up and do our job.”
But talking a good game is one thing, playing one is another. The Cavs don’t have time for speeches or excuses. With their season inching toward danger, results are all that matter.
Hill didn’t record an assist in 28 minutes in Game 1 and had three points in Game 2. He missed time in the opening round against Indiana with back spasms and has been puzzled by his drop-off after playing so well in Cleveland’s sweep over Toronto.
”I’m trying to figure it out myself,” he said. ”I think a little bit of just trying to be more involved offensively, trying to be more involved defensively Lorenzo Alexander Jersey , not waiting until a play is possibly called and things like that to go do it. I’ve just got to be more assertive, I’ve got to play with that edge like I did in the second series
”There’s no one to blame but myself. You’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and say, `What can I do better?”’
The Cavs know they need to be more physical after the Celtics took the fight to them in Boston.
Lue raised some eyebrows following Game 2 when he described Boston’s players as ”gooning up” the series. Lue explained he wasn’t being critical.
”It’s not a bad thing to goon it up,” he said. ”Like, they’re taking hard fouls, they’re being physical. They’re playing playoff basketball. So that’s all I meant by it.”
Thompson said he loves that Boston is playing ”hard and chippy.” But he knows if the Cavs don’t ease the burden on James, this fight could be over sooner than expected.
”Other guys have to contribute and other guys have to step up,” Tristan Thompson said. ”Of course, it’s a huge luxury having LeBron on our team. At the same time, we have to be ready to play and we have to do our job.”
And get off James’ back.
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