Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is not at all surprised the team declined to pick up his fifth-year option after last season, Fox Sports North reports.
Coming off a mediocre third year for the Vikings, Ponder admitted he had his doubts, especially after the team re-signed back-up Matt Cassel – presumably to the be the starter for this season – and traded up in the first round of the NFL draft last month to select Teddy Bridgewater.
"I didn't expect them (to pick up the option), honestly," Ponder said at the team's annual charity playground build Wednesday. "How things went down, the offseason, last year, I expected that it wasn't going to happen."
Ponder played in nine games in 2013, throwing for 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a 63.6 completion percentage.
The Vikings had to pick up his fifth-year option – a contractual agreement for fist-round picks under the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement – before May 3. It would have paid him an estimated $9.686 million, the average salary of the third through 25th highest-paid players at the same position.
Instead of another year of slightly-more-secure job safety, Ponder is set to become a free agent after the 2014 season.
Ponder, 26, said he wanted to stay in Minnesota for this year, especially since Norv Turner was hired as new coach Mike Zimmer's offensive coordinator.
"Knowing Norv was coming in, that there was going to be a lot that I could learn and pick up from him," Ponder told FSN. "So, it's a big benefit for me that I'm still here."
According to the Pioneer Press, Ponder also welcomes the competition from Bridgewater for the starting job.
"There was an expectation that there was going to be a quarterback taken (by the Vikings) at some point in the draft," Ponder told the Pioneer Press "It's good for the team; it's good for Matt. It's good for everybody there's competition at the quarterback spot."
Ponder also said it's "great" having Bridgewater in the team quarterback room.
"He's a quiet guy, he's humble and he works hard, and I like having him around," Ponder told the paper.