A new name to consider in the Vikings' hunt for a 2018 starting quarterback is soon-to-be former Cincinnati Bengals backup, A.J. McCarron.
Because until Thursday, McCarron, 27, wasn't scheduled to become a free agent. But McCarron filed a grievance with the league, saying he was unjustly kept on the non-football injury list for too long during his 2014 rookie season.
An independent arbitrator agreed and ruled that McCarron will eligible for free agent status when the NFL year begins March 13.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport mentioned two teams that could be interested in McCarron: Browns and Vikings.
"Don't sleep on the Vikings," Rapoport said. "They could franchise tag Case Keenum. If they don't, McCarron could be their guy."
Mike Zimmer never crossed paths with McCarron in Cincinnati. McCarron was drafted shortly after the Vikings hired Zimmer as their head coach.
Is he any good?
When Andy Dalton was injured against the Steelers in December of 2015, McCarron filled in admirably. Here's how he did in four regular season games.
- vs. Steelers: 22-of-32, 280 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
- at 49ers: 15-of-21, 191 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
- at Broncos: 22-of-35, 200 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
- vs. Ravens: 17-of-27, 160 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
The fact that he didn't get swallowed up on the road against the NFL's No. 1 defense and eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos is worth pointing out.
In the playoffs against the Steelers, McCarron went 23-of-41 for 212 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Bengals lost a close one, 18-16.
What about Kirk Cousins?
Paul Allen, the radio play-by-play voice of the Vikings, said last week on his KFAN radio show that if the Vikings don't franchise tag Keenum between Feb. 20-March 6, he assumes the Vikings will then realistically consider paying big money to Cousins.
As for franchise tagging Keenum, Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr believes that Keenum might be a reason the Vikings didn't let the the Giants talk to quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski. If Stefanski stays, maybe Keenum stays, too.
Meanwhile, everyone is waiting for an answer about Teddy Bridgewater's status. He's eligible to test free agency beginning March 13 unless his contract tolls to 2018 because he spent the first six weeks of 2017 on the physically unable to perform list.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio recently reported that Bridgewater's camp doesn't think his free agent status will be delayed, but nothing is certain until the NFL makes it so.
Sam Bradford is another name the Vikings could bring back via free agency.