EAGAN, Minn. -- So, which Jake Browning did the Vikings get?
Will he be the one who threw for 43 touchdown passes for Washington in 2016 and was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year? Or more like the one who threw just 35 touchdown passes in the past two seasons combined?
The Vikings have plenty of time to find out. They signed the quarterback last week as an undrafted free agent and he took part in a rookie minicamp over the weekend.
Considering the Vikings guaranteed $125,000 of Browning’s $495,000 contract for 2019 and gave him a $15,000 signing bonus, there’s obviously optimism he will look more like he did as a sophomore.
“He’s a very good athlete,’’ said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. ‘We felt like he’s got a lot of upside to work with, a lot of tools.’’
Asked what happened the past two years after that spectacular season season in which he tied the Pac-12 record for touchdown passes in a season and threw for 3,430 yards, Browning mostly shrugs off the question.
“There were a lot of different factors that went into it,’’ he said. “That’s kind of in the past. I had to answer that question a lot throughout the whole combine process. … I’m kind of moving forward from it. … But we kept winning a lot of games, and at the end of the day, that’s kind of the main goal.’’
The Huskies did go 10-3 in 2017, when Browning threw for 2,719 yards, and 10-4 in 2018, when he threw for 3,192. Then again, they did go 12-2 in 2016 and advance to a College Football Playoff semifinal.
Browning, though, is certainly worth a look. He joins Sean Mannion and Kyle Sloter as quarterbacks vying for the backup role behind Kirk Cousins.
“I really wanted to be part of this organization,’’ Browing said of why he chose the Vikings. “I formed relations (during the draft process) with (assistant head coach/offensive adviser Gary) Kubiak and I just felt like it was my best option.’’
Kubiak knows plenty about reserve quarterbacks. He was John Elway’s backup in Denver from 1983-91.
For someone on the Vikings who has known Browning the longest, the guy to turn to is linebacker Cameron Smith, taken out of USC in the fifth round of the draft. The two are both from the Sacramento, Calif., area and competed against each other in youth ball, high school and in college.
“I’ve been playing against Cameron Smith since we were like nine,’’ Browning said. “It’s kind of cool.’’
One game Smith wants to forget came in 2014 when his Granite Bay High team lost to Browning’s Folsom High team 63-0. Browning threw five touchdowns for Folsom, which went 16-0 that season and won the California state title.
But Smith did get a measure of revenge in 2016. The Huskies were 9-0 and ranked fourth in the country when they lost 26-13 at home to the Trojans.
Overall, Smith has nothing but praise for Browning.
“He’s one of the more instinctual players that I’ve seen, even in high school he had just a great feel when to deliver the ball,’’ Smith said. “He just always gets the ball right where it needs to be and he’s a winner. He’s just got a knack to win.’’
Smith said Browning texted him April 27 when he wasn’t selected on the final day of the draft to say he would be joining the Vikings, although Smith didn’t see the text until the next day. When he did find out, he said he was “pumped.’’
Following the three-day minicamp, Browning next will take field May 21 for the start of organized team activities. All the veterans will be on hand, and the Vikings will find out more about what they have in Browning.