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.