Report: Vikings not expected to use franchise tag on Case Keenum

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Case Keenum of the Minnesota Vikings smiles as he jogs off the field after the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 24, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings are not expected to use the franchise tag on quarterback Case Keenum, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday, citing “sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking.” Keenum will be a free agent this offseason unless the Vikings use the franchise tag, transition tag or negotiate a new contract extension.

The deadline for teams to apply a franchise tag is March 6. Tagged players earn a one-year salary that’s at least the average of the top five paid players at their position. If the Vikings were to tag Keenum, they would be looking at a figure of about $23.5 million.

Keenum, 29, led the Vikings to 11 regular season wins last year, and helped punch the team’s ticket to the NFC Championship with the Minneapolis Miracle touchdown to Stefon Diggs in the last-second Divisional win over the New Orleans Saints.

Coming off an appearance in the NFC Championship game, the Vikings are a team in “win now” mode, and could be looking an experienced and proven quarterback like Kirk Cousins. The 29-year-old Cousins is expected to earn a deal that would make him the NFL’s highest paid player at more than $30 million per season. Earlier this month, the San Francisco 49ers made quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo the league’s highest-paid player with a five-year, $137.5 million deal.

NFL free agency begin March 14, which is the earliest the Vikings and Cousins could discuss a deal.