The previous time the Vikings signed a free-agent backup quarterback away from the Los Angeles Rams, it turned out quite well.
Two years ago, it was Case Keenum. He became the starter when Sam Bradford got hurt, and led the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.
In April, Minnesota signed Sean Mannion after four years with the Rams, two as Keenum’s teammate.
Not surprisingly, Mannion reached out to Keenum before he signed. And he got an assist from his wife Megan.
“I did (reach out) a little bit,” Mannion said. “That was kind of right after he had been traded (from Denver to Washington), so things were kind of changing for him, so I didn’t want to bug him too much. But, honestly, my wife texted his wife Kimberly.’’
Mannion, though, did all the work himself when it came to getting a recommendation from another former Minnesota player.
“One of my college teammates (at Oregon State) was (offensive lineman) Mike Remmers, so I talked to Mike a little bit and they’ve had nothing but great things to say about Minnesota,’’ Mannion said.
Mannion signed a one-year, $895,000 deal, and will try to win the No. 2 job behind Kirk Cousins. His competition is Kyle Sloter, who has not taken a regular-season snap in two NFL seasons.
Not that Mannion has much experience himself — 10 regular-season games with one start. He has completed 33 of 53 passes for 258 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
“I learned a ton getting drafted and spending four years with (the Rams),” said Mannion, who threw just three passes last season backing up Jared Goff on a team that reached the Super Bowl. “Obviously, I would have liked some more opportunities to get to play, but those are things that aren’t always in your control.’’
The Vikings wouldn’t mind a repeat of last year, when Cousins took every regular-season snap. But just in case something were to happen to Cousins, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wanted an alternate with at least some regular-season experience. With their limited salary-cap room, the Vikings didn’t have a lot to choose from.
“I see a pro,” offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski said of Mannion. “He came from a successful program the last few years there. He is really a guy that I think fits in extremely well with Kirk.”
Cousins, indeed, likes what he sees in Mannion.
“Really strong arm, very accurate,” he said. “Works very hard (and) has a great understanding of the system.”
Mannion’s strong arm first received notice in 2013, when as a junior at Oregon State he threw for 37 touchdowns and 4,662 yards, then the most in Pac-12 history. As a senior, his numbers dropped to 3,164 yards and 15 touchdowns and he slipped into the third round of the 2015 draft.
The year after Mannion was selected, the Rams took Goff with the No. 1 pick in the draft, all but killing his chances of starting in L.A. And while the starting job in Minnesota belongs to Cousins, Mannion still hopes to be the No. 1 guy somewhere.