We'll take a daily look at where the Vikings' roster stands at the moment position-by-position leading up to our NFL Combine coverage next week.
On the roster: Christian Ponder
Free agents: Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman
We start this series with the biggest need on the team. The Vikings shuffled through three quarterbacks, including one they acquired in October (Freeman), and finished 23rd in pass offense averaging 214.2 yards a game. The offense as a whole averaged four more total yards per game (344.3) than the Broncos’ record breaking pass offense (340.3).
Cassel exercised his right to opt out and become a free agent last week, which leaves Ponder as the only quarterback on the roster. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, general manager Rick Spielman and offensive coordinator Norv Turner all have said they’re open to the possibility of bringing Cassel back.
Ponder will enter the final year of his rookie deal next season. Even as inconsistent as he’s been during his career, it might be wise for the Vikings to keep Ponder. Cassel should draw interest from a few teams given the weak crop of free agent quarterbacks and the number of teams that need a quarterback this offseason. Not every quarterback in the draft will be ready to start in Week 1, which is where Cassel, Ponder and even Freeman can serve as temporary quarterbacks. All have plenty of experience as starters but likely won’t be considered as long-term solutions at the position.
Plus if the franchise did get rid of Ponder, the move wouldn’t create cap space. He’s on the books for $3.2 million next season and all of it is dead money, meaning it would count against the cap regardless.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner has already said the team feels it needs a young quarterback in the offseason. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said he’s seen 10 quarterbacks, in person and on tape, so far but expects to lean on Turner’s expertise. With Turner’s experience as an offensive coordinator and a head coach, it’s a good thing to have him in the room to assess quarterbacks in an important offseason for the franchise.