What we knew based on decisions the Vikings made heading into 2012 -- most notably cutting Sage Rosenfels -- was that the year would be dedicated to finding out just what Christian Ponder could do as a full-time, full-year starting QB. It was a smart, patient idea that allowed Ponder to hopefully grow. It also bit the Vikings big-time when they exceeded expectations (and really, they must have exceeded their own expectations given that Joe Webb was the No. 2 QB on the depth chart). Ponder played all 16 games but was hurt in the finale to the extent that he wasn't able to play in the postseason. Webb did, it was a disaster, and here we are.
Now that we know a few things about the rest of the Vikings' roster from 2011 to 2012 -- namely, that there are far more NFL-caliber players in the secondary and that the offensive line has significantly improved, the expectation should be that Minnesota competes once again for the playoffs in 2013. To that end, it is obvious that they need to upgrade their stable of quarterbacks. The collection they had would have been fine for a 6-10 season; it was a disaster for a 10-6 season. The less obvious thing is this: What kind of QB do they need to find in the offseason? They can really go 1 of 3 routes:
1) Making a strong play for a bona fide NFL starter. we're not talking about a Tom Brady type here, but more like Joe Flacco -- a free agent in Baltimore. This would be a signal that they don't think Ponder is their long-term answer but that they think the rest of the roster is built well enough to continue competing at a high level.
2) Making a run at a QB with a history of starting, but who would come in as no more than competition for Ponder to push him a little. If this QB was lights-out and Ponder faltered, he could win the starting job. This would be someone more like Matt Moore, another free agent who has decent career numbers, won't be the guy in Miami and who fits somewhere between starting-caliber and strong backup.
3) A true veteran backup QB who is clearly the No. 2 guy but who can play in relief if Ponder is ineffective or gets injured. These guys are a little easier to find. The Vikings had one (Rosenfels) but chose not to keep him.
If we had to guess, we'd say the Vikings will go the route of No. 3. If we had our choice, we'd probably pick someone more like No. 2. Your thoughts, please, in the comments.