Free agency opens Tuesday and the Vikings are expected to in the market for a backup quarterback. There isn't a huge market out there with Joe Flacco signing a long-term deal and Alex Smith getting traded to San Francisco, but either of those two options would have been in the mode of threatening Christian Ponder for a starting job and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier made clear that is not the type of fit the team is seeking. While the Vikings are content to have Christian Ponder as their starter, they are keeping options open for a veteran backup to compete for a roster spot.
Here is a look at the available quarterbacks that might be under consideration by the Vikings when free agency begins:
Chase Daniel – He doesn't have much in the way of tangible game experience playing behind Drew Brees in New Orleans, but learning from one of the all-time greats is viewed as a big positive.
Jason Campbell – With Matt Moore re-signing with Miami, Campbell is likely the best of the relatively experienced quarterbacks on the market. He appears to be content as a backup, having lost his starting spot in both Washington and Oakland and spending last year with the Bears. It speaks to the lack of quality depth that Campbell is one of the top options at the position.
David Garrard – The former Jaguars starter is viewed as a decent option, but the buzz is that he is locked in to sign with the Jets, where Mark Sanchez is on thin ice as the starter.
Rex Grossman – The former Bears starter has experience and, while not a player that most teams would feel comfortable having as a full-time starter, he has been a decent game manager, even if he has never been a fan favorite among the home crowd.
Bruce Gradkowski – A veteran journeyman who has a strong arm, he could be an ideal target for the Vikings. He could be a viable option in the event of a Ponder injury and could be a solid complement to the younger Ponder in terms of sharing knowledge.
Derek Anderson – A veteran with some gas left in the tank, he could be an ideal candidate because he wouldn't be viewed as a threat to Ponder's starting role, but, if Ponder would get injured or struggle badly, he could be a decent No. 2 option.
Tyler Thigpen – More of a storyline than a realistic option, the Vikings fell in love with Thigpen as a rookie and tried to slide him through waivers – only to have Kansas City thwart that plan by claiming him. However, with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tarvaris Jackson signed and sealed with Buffalo, it would appear Thigpen is the odd man out (again).
Brady Quinn – Remember when draft analysts questioned which would be a better fit for the Vikings in the 2007 draft – Quinn or Adrian Peterson? The Vikings clearly made the right choice. Quinn has never had a solid supporting cast in front of him and, with the pressure of being the starter off of him, he could become a solid backup with the intelligence to learn a new offense quickly and be a solid guy who can help Ponder by being his eyes and ears on the sideline.
Matt Leinart – One of the bigger disappointments, Leinart has bounced around the league and the shine is off of him. One of the top picks in the 2006 draft, he has the experience the Vikings are looking for and has the ability to be a decent backup. Whether he fits the Vikings' plans is a big if.
Vince Young – Like Leinart, he was a bust from the Class of 2006, but, the difference is, he still has the confidence in himself that he views himself as a starter. While that isn't always a problem, he could have a hard time finding a job unless he's behind a clear-cut starting veteran. For a team like the Vikings, where Ponder is still feeling his way as an NFL starter, Young could end up doing more harm than good, especially if Ponder struggles.
JaMarcus Russell – Unless he gets his weight under the reported 300 pounds he was tipping on truck stop scales, his NFL future is even less bright than his NFL past.
The market for quarterbacks in free agency is far from a "who's who," but for the Vikings, who aren't looking for a starter, there is a fair amount of backup talent out there and the team likely will invest in a veteran simply to be an insurance policy because, as the team saw in Green Bay during the playoffs, it's hard to depend on Joe Webb being the No. 2 guy when the season is on the line.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Options many, talent questionable with QBs
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