If Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer could keep all of his quarterbacks with expiring contracts, he would.
Zimmer spoke to media members from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Thursday morning, and a majority of the questions lobbed his way surrounded Minnesota's quarterback situation and who will be under center for Minnesota in 2018.
"I feel very confident in, really, all three guys. I love all three of them," Zimmer said. "They're great people. I love how they work. They understand how we do things as a team and how we go about our business."
Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Case Keenum have all started games in Purple over the past two years, and all three are now slated to become free agents on March 14. Will the Vikings return a name – or two – currently on the roster for 2018, or will the quarterback next season be a fresh face?
Zimmer emphasized that he and Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman are going through that process now and that no decisions have yet been made.
He acknowledged that each of the three quarterbacks has question marks surrounding him.
"Teddy is a guy that, two years ago, he played fantastic," Zimmer said. "We thought he was an ascending player and then obviously has a terrible knee injury, don't get to see him in real live action in basically two years."
Zimmer went on to point out that Bradford played 15 games after being acquired via trade in 2016, and he started the 2017 season with a fantastic outing before then being sidelined for nearly the rest of the year.
"You look at 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," Zimmer said. "Really, what we have to figure out is, 'What is the best scenario for us?' "
When asked about his confidence level in Bradford's health, Zimmer said he "thinks" that Bradford, who was skiing last week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, will stay healthy.
"But who knows? I have a crystal ball, but I didn't bring it with me," Zimmer quipped. "It didn't tell me if he's going to stay healthy or not."
Zimmer couldn't speak any higher of the trio's character. He reiterated that he "loves" Teddy and his competitive nature.
"He's got the heart of a lion, a champion. He's going to do everything he possibly can to be ready," said Zimmer, who emphasized that Bridgewater was prepared to play in a game when he was activated in November.
"I'm hopeful for Teddy, number one, that he has an outstanding career. He's earned it; he's deserved it," Zimmer said. "Hopefully it's with me. But if it's not, then I wish him the best of luck. I'm going to give him a hug and hope for the best for him."
Last but not least, Zimmer reflected back over Keenum's season in 2017, during which he stepped in for Bradford and went on to lead Minnesota to a 13-3 regular season and appearance in the NFC Championship game.
"Is Sam Bradford going to stay healthy? Is Teddy Bridgewater going to be able to play to what he was? Is Case Keenum the quarterback he was last year [as opposed to previous seasons]?" Zimmer asked. "I mean, you've got to go on your gut, you've got to go on what you see. You've got to go on his heart.
"Case has a big heart," Zimmer said. "He's a great competitor, he studies his rear end off, he works an unbelievable number or hours."
Zimmer said that while all three quarterbacks have skill sets and character he values, it all comes down to who makes the most sense for the Vikings and their goals for the future.
He made a promise at the podium that he and Spielman, along with the rest of the Vikings organization, will be on the same page when that decision is made.
"The thing about Rick and I, we sit in there and we can argue a bit," Zimmer said. "But when we walk out of there, we're together, the organization's together, and if we decide it's Case, it's Teddy or it's Sam, we're going to walk out of there and say, 'This is what it is,' and we're going to go."
Zimmer didn't avoid the potential of signing a quarterback in free agency, but he warned of reading too much into things before the Vikings make an announcement. He also reminded that Bridgewater, Keenum and Bradford all remain under contract as of now.
"I would like to keep all three of them. I love these kids," Zimmer said of the current signal callers. "But again, it's going to come down to financial things – financial for them, and maybe some of them don't get to free agency. We still have some time."
Added Zimmer: "I know there's a lot of rumors, a lot of different things out there. But don't believe everything you hear – unless it's from me."