Over the next few weeks, Zone Coverage will break down the Minnesota Vikings post-draft roster by position group and take a stab at which players make the team.
Today’s focus: Quarterbacks
The league’s spotlight was squarely on Minnesota this offseason to see what would come of its quarterback situation. The result: A near-complete overhaul of the position. With three starting-caliber quarterbacks entering free agency, the Vikings let them all walk in search of a bigger prize — a move that will have ripple effects across the NFL for potentially the next several years.
Departures: Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater
Additions: Kirk Cousins, Trevor Siemian, Peter Pujals
Returning: Kyle Sloter
THE LONG SHOT: Peter Pujals
As usual, the Vikings signed an insurance-policy quarterback to keep around during training camp and perhaps retain on the practice squad, but Pujals is unlikely to make this team barring injury.
The Vikings seem to be drawn recently to small-school quarterbacks, having experimented with Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke for a couple seasons, signed Northern Colorado’s Kyle Sloter last year and now acquiring Holy Cross’s Pujals in undrafted free agency.
Pujals passed for 84 touchdowns and rushed for 19 more in his Holy Cross career. He was a seasoned, successful college player with above-average athleticism. At the very least, he’s more exciting and intriguing than run-of-the-mill Big Ten UDFAs like James Vandenberg, Wes Lunt or Joel Stave that the Vikings have signed in the past, but he is still a project and may not see much preseason time if the team is invested in developing Sloter instead.
THE MYSTERY: Kyle Sloter
After converting from wide receiver to play quarterback for one college season at Northern Colorado — and then putting on a show last preseason with the Denver Broncos — there’s reason to be energized about Sloter’s future. That being said, most Vikings fans have probably never seen him throw a pass in a game.
The Vikings cared enough about Sloter to give him a small fortune to join their practice squad, then kept him on the 53-man roster all season after they were forced to call him up in Week 2 because of Sam Bradford’s knee injury.
At 6-foot-4 with a strong arm, Sloter is physically impressive. Considering he’s only played quarterback for two seasons, his ceiling is high. Granted, the presence of Kirk Cousins for the next three seasons (at least) stifles Sloter’s potential in Minnesota barring injury. Nonetheless, Sloter’s presence should make the second half of preseason games worth watching.
THE TRUSTY BACKUP: Trevor Siemian
As Sloter spends one more year learning how to be a reliable backup quarterback, the Vikings will likely roll with Trevor Siemian as the No. 2 to Cousins. Like Sloter, Siemian is a Broncos castoff. He’s got one year left on his rookie contract.
After going 13-11 in 24 career starts with Denver, Siemian should be serviceable if called into action in Minnesota. Frankly, the Vikings’ strong defense and offensive weapons would make life easier on virtually any backup.
THE $84 MILLION MAN: Kirk Cousins
The Vikings went all-in on the former Washington Redskins passer, who chose Minnesota despite myriad interest from other franchises.
Cousins’ every move will certainly be scrutinized after he signed a fully-guaranteed deal ensuring him an average of $28 million per season. The haziness that surrounded Minnesota’s quarterback situation for most of last season should be gone in 2018 if things go according as planned with Cousins.
Making the roster: Kirk Cousins, Trevor Siemian, Kyle Sloter
Released: Peter Pujals