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Report: Vikings moving on from QB Case Keenum

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) reacts during the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game Jan. 21 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Eric Hartline / USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are not expected to put franchise tag on quarterback Case Keenum, according to's Ian Rapaport, a sign that Minnesota has decided to woo a free agent they believe will push them over the top.

Citing sources with knowledge of the team's thinking, Rapaport reported Monday morning, Feb. 26, that, "Barring a change of heart, Minnesota joins the fray for a starting QB."

NFL teams have until March 6 to place a franchise tag on one player scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Once that is done, the player is signed to a one-year deal at a salary no less than the average of the top five paid players at his position.

Based on salary cap hits, the average salary of the five top-paid NFL quarterbacks in 2017 was about $23.5 million.

NFL teams were free to apply franchise tags starting Feb. 20. Free agency is scheduled to begin March 14, at which time teams can contact free agents and their representatives.

Keenum, 29, completed 325 of 481 pass attempts for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions, going 11-3 in 14 regular-season starts. In two playoff games, he was 53 of 88 for 589 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

His 60-yard completion to Stefon Diggs as time expired beat the New Orleans Saints, 29-24, in a division playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater also remain under contract until March 14, but knee injuries that shortened both players' seasons in 2017 make it unlikely that general manager Rick Spielman will rely on one of them to start next season.

The top quarterbacks on the market are Washington's Kirk Cousins, who has averaged 4,392 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions since becoming the Washington Redskins' starter in 2015, and the Saints' Drew Brees, who at 39 is expected to re-sign with New Orleans.

Cousins, 29, is expected to earn a deal that makes him the highest-paid player in the NFL with a contract that would average more than $30 million a year. The Vikings are projected to have more than $50 million under the salary cap in 2018.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service