Before you start spewing all sorts of hatred in the comments over the mere suggestion that Christian Ponder should possibly stick around in 2014, let's get a few things straight:
1) It would not be as a starting quarterback. Even after his above-average performance Thursday night, most of us have seen enough to believe Ponder's ceiling is that of an average starting QB in the NFL. If a team has true aspirations of going far in this league as it is currently situated, that's not good enough. It would be one thing if he was average for three quarters and a lock-down guy in the fourth, but he is not.
2) It would be based on a contingency of drafting a QB either in the first or second round and having that QB start the 2014 season as the starter, assuming he was ready for that.
3) It would assume that Ponder would accept his role (really, he would have no choice, but it's still nice to have buy-in).
We say this because Ponder in 2014 will be in the final year of the four-year deal he signed as a rookie in 2011. That deal also reportedly contains a fifth-year option. It was fairly modestly priced at $10 million guaranteed over the life of the four years.
When it comes to a starting quarterback, especially one for the future, the Vikings can do much better than Ponder. But when it comes to a backup quarterback, could they really do much better than a guy who has been on the team for three years already?
Now, some of that benefit might become moot if the coaching staff has massive turnover, which is a very good possibility. But while Ponder will never be Tom Brady, maybe he could be Alex Smith -- a guy who took a while to figure out what it takes to survive in this league.
A clean slate could be the way to go. Then again, the Vikings could do much worse than keeping Ponder in a clearly defined role as a backup/placeholder instead of the QB of the future.