Vikings' free-agent needs: Quarterback

MINNEAPOLIS -- We're continuing our look at the Minnesota Vikings' free-agent needs today with a spot where the team (at last) isn't in need of a starter. Nevertheless, the Vikings will be in the quarterback market this spring, looking for a sturdy backup to Teddy Bridgewater.


State of the position: The Vikings have an emerging young starter in Bridgewater, who posted the seventh-highest passer rating by a rookie in NFL history. And at the moment, they have little else; practice squad player Pat Devlin is the only other QB on the roster. The Vikings traded Matt Cassel to the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday, and the word in league circles was they already had another backup quarterback in mind when they dealt Cassel. The Vikings will likely acquire a veteran over the next few weeks.

Draft vs. free agency: There's no chance of the Vikings spending a high pick on a quarterback this year, so the passers they'll be looking at will come at the end of the draft or out of the undrafted free-agent pool. Players like South Alabama's Brandon Bridge or Oregon State's Sean Mannion could make sense in later rounds, but a veteran backup would obviously have to come from somewhere else.

Cream of the crop: Cleveland's Brian Hoyer got his first win as an NFL starting quarterback in Week 3 of the 2013 season against the Vikings, and started three games while Norv Turner was the Browns' offensive coordinator that year. He started 13 games for the Browns in 2014, and if he doesn't get a chance to start for another team, he'd make a lot of sense for the Vikings.

Other options: Tennessee's Charlie Whitehurst, who started his career in San Diego while Turner was the head coach, would have to be acquired in a trade, but his name has been connected to the Vikings in the past week. Other quarterbacks who played for Turner include Jason Campbell and Shaun Hill, and players like Ryan Mallett and Matt Flynn could be on the market. Mark Sanchez and Jake Locker might be options, too, though both would seem interested in chances to start.

Growth from within: Devlin turns 27 in April, and could still blossom into a serviceable backup, but he's probably more of a developmental player than an immediate insurance policy for Bridgewater. If the Vikings wanted to keep him as the third quarterback in their room next year and continue working with him, they could get a decent return on a 6-foot-3 quarterback with solid arm strength.