Vikings decline to pick up Christian Ponder's 5th-year option


If Christian Ponder is with the Vikings come 2015, it won't be on his current rookie contract.

The Vikings declined to pick up quarterback's fifth-year option by the 11 p.m. Friday deadline, CBS Sports reports, meaning the 26-year-old will be a free agent at the end of next season.

The Vikings' 2011 first-round pick played in nine games last year, throwing for 1,648 yards, seven touchdowns and nine picks, while completing 63.6 percent of his passes.

ESPN notes Ponder would have been owed $9.686 million in 2015 if the team had picked up the option.

Why so much for a signal-caller with a career quarterback rating of 77.3?

MMQB explains the fifth-year option tool, which was added to first-rounders' rookie contracts as part of the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement. All first rounders get a four-year contract, with a team option for that additional year. For players chosen between picks 11 and 32 (Ponder was taken 12th), the value of the contract becomes the average salary of the third through 25th highest-paid players at the same position.

Of Ponder's fellow 2011 first-round quarterbacks (Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker) only one – Newton – had his option picked up, Pro Football Talk notes.

Earlier this week, Ponder told ESPN's Ben Goessling he was hoping for a "clean slate" with the Vikings. And former Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson tells the Pioneer Press he thinks it's still too early to call Ponder a sure draft bust.

At this past week's voluntary minicamp, Matt Cassel – signed to a new two-year deal this offseason – took snaps with the first team, getting acclimated to new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's offense.

“He talks and preaches discipline, and everything is so detail-oriented,” the 31-year-old Cassel said. “He stays on top of it in the meetings, nothing slips by him. He coaches us hard, makes people accountable, and that’s what we need.”

The Vikings brass could also decide they need a young quarterback in next week's draft to serve as Cassel's successor. That could be Johnny Manziel, who former quarterback Rich Gannon recently described as having "the balls of a burglar." Or Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, who is shooting up draft boards and apparently thinks the Vikings are a good fit.

Meanwhile, longtime Viking Kevin Williams is mulling retirement if he can't find what he considers a fair deal.

Next Up

vaccine, covid

Walz, Whitmer, and Evers call on Trump Admin. to buy more vaccines

It comes after The Washington Post reported that the country's COVID vaccine reserves have been exhausted.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves-Grizzlies game off, KAT tests postive for COVID

The Timberwolves star was among several players that are dealing with COVID-related issues.

minnesota state fair

Planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is underway

The fair suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19, but organizers are moving forward with planning "different scenarios" for this summer.

Screen Shot 2021-01-15 at 2.16.44 PM

Heather Brown named as new WCCO 'This Morning' anchor

She will be joining Jason DeRusha on the CBS affiliate's Morning Show.

DPS John Harrington

DPS Commissioner: No credible threats to state Capitol, but ready if something arises

Local and state law enforcement officials have a plan in case a threat arises.

snow, slush (submitted photo, ok to use)

Here are snow totals from Thursday-Friday winter storm

It's a slushy mess in the metro, but snow did pile up in southern counties.

tim walz

Walz fury after report that government's COVID vaccine reserve is nonexistent

The Washington Post reported Friday that the Trump Administration has shipped out all the vaccines it has already, with none in reserve.

closed sign

What's open and closed in Minnesota on MLK Day 2021?

Local government offices will generally be closed on Monday.

BMTN 900x450 (8)

Company that falsely promised student loan forgiveness banned from MN

It's also been ordered to repay $11,499 in fees taken from Minnesotans.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID update for January 15

Hospitalizations are the lowest in Minnesota since October 25.