Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings decline to pick up Christian Ponder's fifth-year option

Posted by: Matt Vensel under Vikings Updated: May 3, 2014 - 10:11 AM

The Vikings have not picked up quarterback Christian Ponder’s fifth-year option, per a source, meaning that their 2011 first-round pick can become a free agent at the end of the 2014 season.

The option, had it been picked up, would have activated a fifth year of his rookie contract. He would have been scheduled to make $9.686 million in 2015, but that salary would only have been guaranteed for injury, meaning the team could have cut him after 2014 if they wanted.

As of Wednesday, when players were made available to media after a voluntary minicamp practice, Ponder said that the Vikings, who were giving the snaps with the first-team offense to Matt Cassel, had not talked to him about the option. He didn't seem too worried about it, though.

“I don’t know what to expect. Honestly, I’m not thinking about it,” Ponder said. “And plus the option doesn’t really mean much because they can cut me without anything after this year.”

The Vikings had until midnight last night to decide whether to exercise the option, which teams are now given after selecting a first-round pick. The team-friendly options were negotiated into the collective bargaining agreement in 2011. This is the first year teams have had to make these decisions.

At least 20 of the 32 first-round picks from that year, including troubled 49ers pass rusher Aldon Smith, had their options exercised as of Friday evening. But not the No. 12 pick.

Ponder threw for 1,648 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013 with nine interceptions and four lost fumbles. The 26-year-old has totaled 6,436 yards and 38 touchdowns in three NFL seasons.

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