If ever there was a team that was in need of a capable backup quarterback, it was the 2012 Minnesota Vikings.
Minnesota busted the door down to get into the NFC Playoffs last season, crashing the party as one of the hottest teams in the league with a real chance to do some damage in January. As we now know, that didn’t happen, largely due to an injury to Christian Ponder and the ineptitude of backup quarterback Joe Webb.
As the Vikings head into free agency, Webb and someone name McLeod Bethel-Thompson are the two quarterbacks sitting behind Ponder on the depth chart. That cannot sit well with Minnesota fans.
I’ve said from the beginning that Ponder could be an effective starter in the NFL. For the most part, he has been just that — doing everything he can to manage games and let stars like Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin be the difference makers. That said, I believe he is capable of more.
The problem with Ponder has been a lack of a mentor. With Terrelle Pryor looking to take over in Oakland and Carson Palmer on his way to becoming a cap casualty, an opportunity may exist that appeals to multiple parties.
WIth the lack of talent at the quarterback position in this year’s NFL Draft combined with the shortage of capable and dependable backup quarterbacks in the NFL, there may never be a better time than right now for someone like Carson Palmer to revitalize his career.
The door is wide open for the Vikings to grab Palmer as both a solid mentor and a capable backup for Ponder.
I don’t see a better situation for Palmer to step into than the one in Minnesota. He has a chance, even as a backup, to step into a locker room and become a team leader immediately without the pressure of being the savior of a franchise as he was hailed by many to be in Oakland. Furthermore, the Vikings are the closest thing to a contender (outside of Seattle, who runs a offense not suited to Palmer’s physical abilities) who would be willing to pay Palmer decent money to be a backup.
The move would be a win for everyone involved. Not only would Minnesota have a solid backup, but Palmer would be in a position where he could conceivably win the starting job — something that may not even mean the end for Ponder, but in fact be a learning opportunity for a quarterback who has not had many of them during his NFL career. It would be a great opportunity to watch a proven veteran work with the tools at Ponder’s disposal, perhaps opening his eyes to some things he hadn’t seen before.
Palmer might even want to sign a short-term deal with with that exact scenario in mind, hoping to prove his worth and earn one last chunk of change from a team desperate for some sort of stability, even for only a season or two, at the quarterback position. I can see that being a realistic possibility in 2014 with teams like Jacksonville, Buffalo and Arizona.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON MARCH 8, 2013