Speaking from the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday, coach Mike Zimmer was acutely aware that his team must make the right choice with their next signal-caller.
"It's important for myself and Rick [Spielman] and the organization we pick the right guy that can help continue to move forward," Zimmer said. "If we don't do that, then I'll probably get fired."
The coach spoke well of each of his quarterbacks, not ruling out bringing any of the trio back. Several times during his 15-minute Q&A, Zimmer noted there are question issues with each quarterback: Bradford has a still lingering knee issue; Bridgewater is coming off a devastating injury and hasn't really played in two years; Keenum has had one breakout season preceded by some shaky outings outside of Pat Shurmur's system.
"The process that we're going through right now with Sam, Teddy and Case, we're trying to determine exactly where these three guys are," Zimmer said. "Teddy is a guy that two years ago played fantastic. We thought he was a very ascending player. Obviously has a terrible knee injury, don't get to see him play in real, live action in basically two years. So there's the question with him.
"The question with Sam is two years ago he plays in 15 games, starts, plays well. This year, he plays in one game and gets hurt, so you go back and look at his track record. You go back with Case. He plays outstanding this year, and you go back and look at what he's done in the past and what he's done this year. Then really what we have to try to do is figure out what is the best scenario for us and understanding that trying to answer these questions on these three guys and try to go from there. So that's with Rick and myself and Rob and how it affects the salary cap and how it affects the rest of our football team."
Zimmer sounded like a man not overly keen on spending a ton of cash -- like the kind it will take to land Cousins -- on a quarterback.
"We've won 40 games in the last four years because we've had a good football team, and I want to make sure with our team that we continue to build and improve, continually improve on defense," he said. "They told me today ... we're 30-4 when we score 21 points, so it's important that we don't lose the defensive part of the game because we keep the game close. So all these things become a factor.
"So after we get here, after we get done looking at some of these young draftable guys, so we'll kind of sit down and figure out the direction we're going. But I feel very confident really in all three guys [Bradford, Keenum, Bridgewater]. I love all three of them. They're great people. I love how they work. They understand how we do things there as a team and the way we go about our business."
The question moving into the new league year is which, if any, will continue to do their business wearing Vikings purple.