2014 Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder a Top Trade Candidate, Per NFL.com

Chris Wesseling of NFL.com set out to find the to post-draft, and identified Christian Ponder as the top candidate (h/t to the Daily Norseman for finding this story):

Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings: The Vikings have brought back Matt Cassel, drafted Teddy Bridgewater as thequarterback of the future and declined Ponder’s 2015 option. So why are they prepared to waste first-team reps on a quarterback who has fallen out of their plans? The logical inference is an attempt to rebuild some semblance of trade value. Ponder still offers higher upside than the average NFL backup. Former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is now the Eagles quarterbacks coach. Former quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson is now the Giants running backs coach.

As Wesseling points out, summertime trades are rare but the Vikings are no stranger to late-round summer trades—indeed, A.J. Jefferson was traded after training camp and roster cutdowns, and Minnesota waived former Chicago Bears corner (and current Giants corner) Zack Bowman to do it. With the pick the Vikings traded to the Cardinals (originally acquired from Tennessee for Minnesota’s 2012 7th-round pick), Arizona acquired Carson Palmer form Oakland (sending a 2014 pick as well).

Using that, Oakland traded down with Houston to grab two more picks later in the draft. Houston drafted David Quessenberry and Oakland drafted Mychal Rivera and David Bass.


As near as I can tell, these are the trades that occurred during the post-draft 2013 offseason (excluding trades during the draft, like the one bringing Davone Bess to Cleveland):

Team 1 Acquired Team 2 Acquired
Arizona Cardinals Javier Arenas Kansas City Chiefs Anthony Sherman
Baltimore Ravens A.Q. Shipley Indianapolis Colts 7th-round pick (Ulrick John)
Buffalo Bills Jerry Hughes Indianapolis Colts Kelvin Sheppard
Chicago Bears 6th-round pick (David Fales) Tampa Bay Buccaneers Gabe Carimi
Indianapolis Colts 7th-round pick (Ulrick John) Baltimore Ravens A.Q. Shipley
Indianapolis Colts Kelvin Sheppard Buffalo Bills Jerry Hughes
Kansas City Chiefs A.J. Jenkins San Francisco 49ers Jonathan Baldwin
Kansas City Chiefs Anthony Sherman Arizona Cardinals Javier Arenas
San Francisco 49ers Eric Wright (Voided) Tampa Bay Buccaneers Conditional Pick (Voided)
San Francisco 49ers Jonathan Baldwin Kansas City Chiefs A.J. Jenkins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Conditional Pick (Voided) San Francisco 49ers Eric Wright (Voided)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Gabe Carimi Chicago Bears 6th-round pick (David Fales)

Six trades in the entire summer (five if you don’t count the voided Eric Wright trade). They are rare, but not impossible.

Some teams seem more prone to these kinds of deals than others (in fact, the two most memorable trades to Vikings fans in the 2012 offseason—the aforementioned A.J. Jefferson trade and the Vontae Davis trade from Miami to Indianapolis broadcast on Hard Knocks—involved one party that was already on the 2013 post-draft trade list), so it would make sense if any of them needed a backup quarterback to attempt those trades.

Tampa Bay and San Francisco seemingly have resolved their backup quarterback situations this previous offseason (Josh McCown/Mike Glennon and Blaine Gabbert, respectively), while the Arizona Cardinals have drafted a developmental quarterback to play behind Carson Palmer. Chicago has followed the same route, with David Fales a potential successor to Jay Cutler. Kansas City has probably locked down their backup quarterback spot with Chase Daniel and Aaron Murray both competing for #2, and Indianapolis is likely satisfied with Matt Hasselbeck.

On the other hand, if Baltimore is worried about Tyrod Taylor and thinks Keith Wenning will take time before becoming a backup, Ponder is an option there. Buffalo might be worried given how they saw their backups play (Thaddeus Lewis and Jeff Tuel), so could be potential trade bait there as well.

Outlined in the Wesseling piece are four other spots: the Saints, Packers, Panthers and Falcons. The two connections mentioned in the quotation above (Eagles and Giants) both have backup spots well-handled (with Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley in Philadelphia and the developmental Ryan Nassib competing with Josh Freeman for the second spot) so are not good fits.

The Saints are bare at backup quarterback, and though Luke McCown is listed as the second quarterback on the depth chart, it is likely that former Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin wins the backup job—a really opportunistic spot for Ponder to challenge.

In Green Bay, Matt Flynn seems to have found a permanent residence while Scott Tolzien may be a legitimate third option despite the fact that they could not muster a reasonable backup for much of the 2013 season after Rodgers’ injury. It may be a long shot for a Packers trade (especially given their aversion to giving up picks), though Ponder would be worth more to them if simply for intel reasons.

Christian Ponder could also reunite with Joe Webb in Carolina, and the competition for the second spot there is weak. Ponder is mobile enough to run the offense similar to Cam Newton and may legitimately be better than Derek Anderson, Matt Blanchard and Joe Webb. Given the importance of the running game and significant investment made at the running back position, Ponder may even feel at home.

The Falcons would be interesting as well, though perhaps harder to break into than Carolina. Sean Renfree and Jeff Matthews shouldn’t be underestimated as backup material, though the Falcons would just as soon be done with Dominique Davis despite his potential. Those names don’t strike fear into many people, so there’s no ruling it out, either.

As speculated earlier, Ponder may be worth a conditional fifth-round pick—especially, as Wesseling observes, given that he’s probably better than a number of backups in the league. If that can be done, general manager Rick Spielman will solidify his already impressive reputation as a dealer and give the Vikings quite a bit of return for what many thought was a dead asset… though they would have to figure out how to address that third quarterback situation should they choose to carry one.

Travis Partridge is waiting by the phone.

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  1. Hey Arif, I was thinking firstly of KC, thinking maybe they could trade CP7 straight-up for Brandon Flowers. What do you think of Flowers’ year last year? What would his cap hit be, do you know? If not Ponder, maybe we could trade CJ straight-up for Flowers….. possible? KC lost a lotta linemen this year.

    1. Not a bad thought, but the rumored price of Brandon Flowers (mid-round pick, last I heard) may make that untenable, though if they are serious about off-loading him that may have dropped. Regardless, I don’t think it’s possible to get him in a straight-up deal even with his big cap hit. His 2013 may have been very poor (and it was), but his 2012 was excellent. If the Vikings were willing to sign Derek Cox for that reason, they may be willing to deal for Flowers for the same reason.

      As for Charlie Johnson… they really can’t trust Donald Stephenson too much, but they did address the other positions to sufficiency in the offseason. Perhaps something could be done with Charlie Johnson, but again I’m not sure that a straight-up deal would give them the price they would want.

      That said, the difference in price is probably something I’m willing to pay.

  2. The Cowboys have a shaky back-up situation with Kyle Orton, and could be a landing spot for Ponder. Orton wanted to retire but the team wants him to stay on the roster to warm the bench. It would cost him 6 million to go through with it, sacrificing this years paycheck and his original signing bonus the team would try to get back from him.

  3. Being able to carry Flowers’ 10.5m cap number is another issue entirely, but I suppose there a way. Actually am sort of ok with our DBs, more worried about LBs. At this point, would rather start Hodges ans have CW and his 7mil ride the bench. Couldn’t be worse thanlast year. Maybe we wouldhave a guy that can move, anyway.

  4. i wonder if ponder’s intel value must be somewhat diminished at this point, considering we have a new coaching staff. trade him sooner rather than later, and put him on double secret probation

  5. Is Wesseling’s piece anything whatever other than totally unsupported speculation? I didn’t see anything that looked like actual fact or intel. A manufactured “story”. Could it be true? Sure. Big deal. Based on pure depth chart logic. Like half of the speculation nonsense occurring pre and during the draft.

    1. He is pretty open about saying that he thinks these are the players most likely to get traded, and is not indicating that he’s in any discussions or anything.

      He’s basically just answering the question “who is most likely to get traded in the summer?”

      I’m not going to knock it.