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Vikings made bold move for plenty of reasons

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The Vikings GM recently said that the team sees backup QB Shaun Hill as the best option to replace Teddy Bridgewater, who's out with a season-ending injury. Is he serious or is this posturing?

As Vikings fans and Eagles fans try to adjust to a new reality that has Sam Bradford swapping wings for horns and green for purple, folks in Minnesota are both excited but anxious about the arrival of a former No. 1 overall pick who brings a nagging sense that he’s never lived up to that status -- even though he was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 2010.

So why did the Vikings make the move? For plenty of reasons.

First, and as a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking explained it a bit less tactfully, the other options either via trade or the open market weren’t enticing. While it’s unknown whether the Vikings inquired about Josh McCown, the Browns wanted too much for the 37-year-old backup. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick would have cost nearly $5 million more in 2016 salary, with no guarantee that his abilities would outweigh the inherent distraction he’d bring to a locker room featuring a former 49ers teammate who took loud exception to his refusal to stand for the anthem.

The free-agent options weren’t attractive either. The Vikings never even made a call about Michael Vick, a player who once upon a time made the Minnesota defense look like the Keystone Cops.

Second, before anyone interprets G.M. Rick Spielman’s recent remarks about Shaun Hill as the 2016 equivalent of having “no intent” to trade Percy Harvin, the Vikings have plenty of faith in Hill. But they were concerned about the ability of a 36-year-old quarterback to remain healthy for 16 games (and more, if the Vikings find their way to the postseason).

Third, the Vikings believe they still have the ammunition to move around in the 2017 draft, possibly even back into round one. They emerged from the 2016 draft with an extra three and a four, and they still have eight picks for next year. Spielman publicly has said his goal is to get ten picks. (Also, the Vikings think/hope/pray the first-round pick that goes to Philly in 2017 will be low in the round.)

Fourth, the Vikings did indeed feel compelled to have insurance for 2017, in the event Teddy Bridgewater isn’t ready to go in 2017. Yes, Adrian Peterson healed quickly from a torn ACL, but he only had a torn ACL; Bridgewater’s knee has more damage than that. Besides, other quarterbacks have never been the same after tearing knee ligaments, including Daunte Culpepper and, to date, Robert Griffin III.

Fifth, Bradford has fully recovered from his twice-torn ACL, and the Vikings were impressed by his performances at the end of the 2015 season and throughout the 2016 preseason. For the last five games of 2015, Bradford completed 67 percent of his passes and 7.24 yards per attempt. For the last three games of the season, he threw for 361 yards, 380 yards, and 320 yards.

In Minnesota, he likely won’t be asked to throw it quite so much, given the presence of his former Oklahoma teammate at tailback. And it’s safe to say that Mike Zimmer, Norv Turner, and Pat Shurmur (who has coached Bradford in Philadelphia and St. Louis) won’t try to cram Bradford into an offensive approach that doesn’t suit his skills and limitations.

Zimmer lives by the notion that coaches look at their entire team, and they devise playbooks and game plans aimed at maximizing the chances of winning games. They’ll use Bradford that way, along with every other guy who steps foot on the field.

Spielman lives by the notion that taking risks is inherent to his job. Too many General Managers don’t. Spielman always has, and more often than not it has paid off for him and the Vikings. While there’s no guarantee that Bradford will make the team as good or better than it would have been with Bridgewater, standing pat wasn’t an option -- and none of the other options were appealing.