INDIANAPOLIS — Rick Spielman made the media rounds Wednesday morning at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine as he chatted with Twin Cities beat reporters before meeting a gaggle of national correspondants at his podium session.
The Vikings General Manager touched on numerous subjects, but there was plenty of focus on Minnesota's quarterback situation as the hot topic.
Spielman emphasized that the franchise is still in the process of evaluating its options and that the picture could become a little clearer after spending the next few days at the combine.
"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.
"When we get back, we'll meet and finalize our game plan as we go forward," Spielman added.
The three Vikings quarterbacks who played in 2017 — Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater — all have their contracts set to expire when the new league year begins on March 14.
In his opening statement from the podium, Spielman tackled the quarterback subject right away and listed out the criteria the team wants at that position.
"I'm sure you want me to address the quarterback situation," Spielman said. "We feel very strongly about moving forward because of all the current knowledge we have on our three current quarterbacks and the practical game knowledge that we have.
"We're always going to look at all options in all areas to make sure we're signing the best fit for the Vikings, not only on the field from a schematic standpoint … but also with the leadership from Coach [Mike] Zimmer, the culture that has been established in our locker room," Spielman added.
Spielman also noted that there is a financial aspect in the Vikings current situation.
"I think we have a pretty good idea of what we feel, but I think a lot of things will go into play in this decision. Contracts are always a factor in that," Spielman said. "The one thing we've always done is that we've planned out our contracts two or three years down the road.
"I know we were very aggressive last offseason in getting Xavier Rhodes, Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph [re-signed]. Our objective is to draft well and keep those players on the roster," Spielman added. "We have some significant contracts coming up with some key players on the defensive side and offensive side as well. That all goes into play as we go through this decision and will continue to evolve as we go into free agency."
Keenum finished the season 11-3 as a starter and helped the Vikings win another game by entering just before halftime at Chicago. The Vikings quarterback finished his first season in Minnesota by throwing for 3,547 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Keenum also posted a season-long quarterback rating of 98.3, which was the seventh-best in the NFL in 2017 and is the fifth-highest by a Vikings QB. He had eight games in which he had a rating of 100 or better.
Spielman said the Vikings have yet to make a decision on Keenum regarding the franchise tag and praised the 2017 free agent pickup for his steady play in helping Minnesota get to the NFC title game.
"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.
"We've had some internal discussions on how he fits into what [new Vikings Offensive Coordinator John] DeFilippo wants to do," Spielman added. "We're very excited about what Case was able to accomplish."
Bradford started the opener and threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns against New Orleans but also suffered a knee injury.
Bradford started in Week 5 in Chicago but was pulled before halftime after re-aggravating his injury. He was placed on Injured Reserve for the final half of the season but returned to the active roster for the postseason.
Bridgewater returned to the field for the first time in almost 19 months when he played in the fourth quarter of Minnesota's Week 15 win over Cincinnati.
The former first-round pick returned from a gruesome knee injury he suffered just before the start of the 2016 season.
Spielman said Bridgewater's contract situation remains unresolved.
"I don't personally believe, with what I know today, that his contract will toll. I know the NFL and the league will address the situation here in the near future," Spielman said. "Until the NFL tells us which way the decision is going, it's not been resolved yet.
"Teddy has been a great teammate and is a great kid. He is an unbelievable representative of our organization and [has] an unbelievable work ethic and attitude with how he came back from such a significant injury," Spielman added. "As an organization, we're always going to look out for the best interest of our players. Any time we can do that, we're going to do that, and that comes down from our ownership."
Spielman was asked by both local reporters and at his podium session how Bridgewater could be evaluated as a free agent after playing nine snaps over the past two seasons.
"We have a lot more knowledge on Teddy than anyone else. Our medical staff has rehabbed him ever since the surgery was done," Spielman said. "We've seen him in practice, our coaches have worked with him.
"He had a chance to play a couple snaps, I think it was in the Cincinnati game, but we probably have more in-depth knowledge on him than anyone else on his current status," Spielman added.
While things are still up in the air at the moment, there could be some clarity on the Vikings quarterback situation over the next few weeks as free agency nears.
But no matter which direction Minnesota goes, Spielman said it's his mission to find a long-term solution at that position.
"That's what the goal is," Spielman said. "That's what we're trying to do."