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Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Carousel 2014

Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Carousel

New year, new coach, new coordinators, same problem; the Vikings do not have a franchise quarterback. As it stands right now Christian Ponder is the only quarterback on the Vikings roster, yes Christian Ponder. Matt Cassel officially voided his contract Friday opting to test the free agency waters

Christian PonderVikings QB Carousel: What the Minnesota Vikings can do to get off the ride

New year, new coach, new coordinators, same problem; the Vikings do not have a franchise quarterback. As it stands right now Christian Ponder is the only quarterback on the Vikings roster, yes Christian Ponder. Matt Cassel officially voided his contract Friday opting to test the free agency waters, and can you blame him? He was the best quarterback on the Vikings roster last year, and had a legitimate shot at being the starter next year. The Vikings have little options after him, and he holds all the cards. Now you might think, Cassel couldn’t possibly get more than $3.7 million a year in the open market. Well, why can’t he? There are at least five teams in desperate need of a quarterback, and you could probably make a case for four more. This draft has a lot of potential starting quarterbacks, but many teams could be looking at adding a veteran to bridge the gap, and Cassel is a prime candidate to take advantage of that opportunity.

Cassel threw for 1807 yards, with 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, with a starting record of 3-3, good not great. Cassel is an option, but he is not a long-term option nor is he a solution to the Vikings never ending quarterback quarrels. He is simply another stopgap for an organization that has desperately been lacking a leader at arguably the most important position in football. This is not to say that he won’t be back with the Vikings next year; there is a good chance he could re-sign.

It is important that the Vikings do not panic here and pay Cassel more than he is worth. They have a good chunk of money to spend in free agency and that should be used to solidify the defense. Cassel is a backup, and they already have a capable backup in Ponder. If the Vikings are that concerned about having a veteran presence, there are plenty available who are just as good, maybe better, than Cassel. If Matt Cassel does re-sign, it needs to be as a backup; he is simply not the answer for the Vikings, he is a notch better than Ponder, and we need a long-term solution now.

[ad id=”Ad1″]The 2014 football season is upon us, free agency is 30 days away, and the draft is May 8th. Needless to say there is a lot that can happen between now and then. So what can the Vikings do to alleviate the suffering loss at quarterback? Let’s play out a few scenarios.

Scenario 1:

The Vikings re-sign Matt Cassel, or another veteran quarterback, draft a rookie in the middle rounds of the draft, let him ride the pine for a year, while Cassel drives us through another year of mediocrity. Here we are again doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It’s time for the Vikings to plead temporary insanity, get some therapy, and move on from this scenario. Yes some quarterbacks have benefited from taking a year or two to learn under a veteran. Hello Aaron Rodgers, but Cassel is not Brett Favre. However this is a real possibility for the Vikings next year, although it would be a mistake. Adrian Peterson is turning 29 and going on to his 8th year in the NFL; the Vikings simply do not have time to wait. They need to draft their guy, get him in there, play, and learn.

Minnesota Vikings 2013 QB Stats 

Matt Cassel25415360.218077.1191.3114.393.5168581.6
Christian Ponder23915263.616486.9169.972.993.82711977.9
Josh Freeman532037.71903.61760011.911440.6

This brings me to Scenario 2:

Matt Cassel signs elsewhere; we go defense in the first and draft a quarterback in the middle rounds a la Jimmy Garoppolo. Christian Ponder is the backup. There are plenty of quarterbacks with lots of potential that will be available in the middle rounds. The Vikings defense is in shambles and they could benefit from taking a stud defensive man in the first and gambling on a quarterback later. A move like this could help start gluing the Vikings defense back together, while still nabbing their man at quarterback. I am a fan of Garoppolo; he has nice footwork, decent arm strength, and a quick release. He looks calm in the pocket and is quick to make decisions. Last year he threw for 5,050 yards, with a completion percentage of 66% along with 53 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. The kid can play. The Vikings offense has solid playmakers all around; one of their biggest problems was not being able to get the ball out fast enough. Garoppolo has the tools and skill set to be a starting quarterback in this league. Is he Andrew Luck? No, but neither was Russell Wilson, and now they are saying “He ain’t no Russell Wilson.” Bottom line is the Vikings can solidify their defense in round one and still find their man at quarterback.

Scenario 3:

The Vikings trade down in the first, grab some extra picks, nab C.J. Mosley (or BPA at defense) and trade back in the first for Derek Carr. Rick Spielman has shown he isn’t afraid to trade down or up; he is simply unpredictable. Of course all of this is based on the fact that Bridgewater and Manziel are gone; Bortles will probably be too, but even if he’s not I’m not sold on him at eight either. Many mocks have the Vikings taking Carr at number eight; do I like Carr? Yes. Do I like him at eight? No. Here’s why, there is way too much elite talent at defense in the first round to pass up on because you panicked again. If Carr slips past the Vikings at eight I have a good feeling he will be there late in the first and possibly in the beginning of the second. If you’re sold on Carr and can’t move down, grab your man at defense at eight and find a way to trade back in the first to get Carr.

Scenario 4:


The Vikings trade up to number two and take Johnny Manziel. This is what the Vikings should do. Now there is a chance that Manziel is not there at number two, but if he isn’t then Teddy Bridgewater is, and that is a sweet consolation prize. I believe the Texans will draft a quarterback; I am not certain they will draft a quarterback at one and if they do I do not think it will be Manziel. Now many Vikings fans are going to think that we will have to give up too much to trade up to number two. The Redskins swapped 2012 first round picks with the Rams and gave up a second and two future number ones to get RG3. This is not the same draft as 2012, and you could make the argument that there is no RG3. With the amount of depth in this draft; many teams will be looking to trade down. I think the Vikings could move up by swapping picks, giving up a future first rounder and perhaps their extra third. If not, throw in the second to sweeten the deal. After all, the Vikings gave up four picks for Cordarrelle Patterson. For the Vikings to get their franchise quarterback for only three, that seems like a steal.

I know that many are not sold on Manziel; he’s too short, he isn’t strong enough, and he’s got off field issues. He may not possess the same intangibles as Luck or even Bridgewater, but the bottom line is he can win you games. This kid finds a way to get it done; he is innovative and passionate and that is something you cannot teach. Yes he is young, but he has an innate ability to lead, which is something the Vikings have desperately been lacking. Look at the 2013 Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Manziel led the Aggies to a 52-48 victory after being down 38-17 at the half. Manziel was 30-38 passing, with 382 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw in 73 yards rushing and a score. Manziel generated a whopping 455 yards of total offense; Manziel won that game. He didn’t give up, he didn’t quit, and he corralled his men back in a time where it looked like they had no chance. Manziel is a leader, he is talented, he knows how to win and he is a franchise quarterback. No he isn’t Andrew Luck, he is Johnny fricken Football and the Vikings need him. May 8th is when the Vikings can take the first step to stabilizing their offense and team for the next 15 years. It’s time for the Manziel era.

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  1. Avatar

    Jim K

    February 17, 2014 at Monday, February,17

    Great article, Heather! Now if Spielman would read it……

  2. Avatar


    February 12, 2014 at Wednesday, February,12

    I’d rather have Bridgewater

  3. Avatar


    February 12, 2014 at Wednesday, February,12

    Great read Heather! I enjoyed reading through the different scenarios and getting a good feel of what options are out there. Personally, I am a fan of Johnny Football and would love to see him in a Vikes uniform! Cant wait to read more of your work in the near future!

  4. Avatar


    February 12, 2014 at Wednesday, February,12

    Garoppolo! Awesome article and great read Heather!

  5. Avatar

    Jason H

    February 12, 2014 at Wednesday, February,12

    I agree with the article. The Vikings need to take a chance on Johnny Football. He is the best prospect coming out of college right now. I just hope Rick Speilman doesn’t mess this up like he did with Ponder. Skol!

  6. Avatar


    February 12, 2014 at Wednesday, February,12

    Thanks Mike! He really is a love’m or hate’m type player. I think whoever takes the chance on him is going to be reaping the benefits for years, if anything he will be fun to watch. Now that the Vikes have Norv I am not so convinced that they will take a qb round one, however I know if Rick loves him he will go get him. Is it May yet?!

  7. Avatar

    Mike Rigz

    February 12, 2014 at Wednesday, February,12

    Great article Heather. Manziel really is a Love’m or Hate’m type player in this years draft. Those who are not sold want nothing to do with the guy. I’m on the fence, he’s a playmaker for sure but I’m concerned he’s too young. Another year probably would have benefited him long term. Which ever team drafts Manziel better not throw him into the fire week one.

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