In addition to third-string quarterback, Kyle Sloter is deserving of another title on the Vikings: Director of quarterback alumni relations.
Since Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater all left as free agents in March, Sloter has made a point of keeping in touch with them.
“We talk on the phone and I text them,’’ Sloter said Wednesday during the Vikings’ charity golf tournament at The Meadows at Mystic Lake in Prior Lake. “I keep in good contact with all of them. I got pretty close to them (last season). They’re really good friends of mine and I wish them the best.’’
The Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million contract to become the starting quarterback. That resulted in Keenum, the primary starter last season, going to Arizona, Bradford, the starter in 2016, signing with Arizona, and Bridgewater the starter in 2014 and 2015, joining the New York Jets.
Sloter, entering his second Minnesota season, said all three quarterbacks have talked about how much they like their new teams. Sloter communicates the most with Bridgewater.
“I talk to him at least a couple of times a week,’’ Sloter said. “Him and I are really close. He loves (the Jets). He speaks really well of them and it sounds like he’s getting a pretty good opportunity there. That’s all he really wanted was a chance, and I think he’s going to get it with them, so I’m happy for him.’’
Bridgewater was ready to be the Vikings’ long-term starter and face of the franchise until going down in the final preseason practice of 2016 with a severe knee injury. Bridgewater missed all of 2016 and returned midway through last season, getting into one game while serving as Keenum’s backup.
Sloter said Bridgewater was hopeful of remaining with the Vikings, and that it was difficult when they went in another direction.
“It definitely was tough for him,’’ Sloter said. “He loved it here. That’s kind of where his heart was. But at the end of the day, you got to go do you.’’
After he departed, Keenum posted a gracious letter on Twitter saying goodbye to Vikings fans. Bradford does not apparently dabble on social media. Bridgewater has not made a single reference to the Vikings on his Twitter account since his departure.
Sloter, an undrafted rookie who didn’t get into a single game in 2017, said he learned plenty last season from the three departed quarterbacks. As the third-stringer, he’s now eagerly learning behind Cousins and backup Trevor Siemian, whom Sloter was with for four months last year until being waived by Denver at the end of the preseason.
“He’s been awesome,’’ Sloter said of Siemian, acquired in a March trade with the Broncos. “He’s a good friend of mine, and I’m glad to be back with him. … He’s got a great mind for the game.’’
Sloter looks to be doing pretty well himself. He has a nonguaranteed contract, but the Vikings are expected to keep three quarterbacks considering they are enamored with Sloter’s upside.
“Kyle looks great,’’ said wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. “You can tell every day he’s getting better. Being a young quarterback, you can see the difference from last year. His confidence is getting better and he’s just continuing to progress.’’
Sloter last season was activated for six of the first eight games as Keenum’s backup when Bradford was out with a knee injury. In the second half of the season, Bradford was on injured reserve but Bridgewater was the backup and Sloter wasn’t active for any games.
Unless there is an injury, Sloter isn’t in line to be active for games in 2018. He’s continuing, though, to remain patient.
“That’s the name of the game in this league,’’ Sloter said. “There are just 32 starting quarterbacks, so you got to prove something. Only a couple of guys get anointed (as starters), those first-round picks. Everybody else has to work their way up like Case did.’’
Keenum had a breakthrough season in 2017 after primarily being an NFL backup for five years. If Sloter needs any advice from him now, he’s just a phone call away.
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