Economics, chemistry paramount with the QBs

Christian Ponder earns the least of the top three QBs on the roster, but he is the only one with a contract into 2014 with Matt Cassel's option to opt out. The economics and statements around the Vikings' quarterback position are upside down right now, and that's more revealing with the ranking of salaries on the roster.

None of the Vikings' four quarterbacks are in the top 10 on the team for average salary per year. That, in itself, could be a telling statistic about the current state of affairs at the position everyone admits is the most important one in the NFL.

Matt Cassel, the ninth-year veteran who signed a two-year, $7.4 million contract that can be voided after the 2013 season, is 11th overall on the team's salary scale. With a cap number of $3.7 million that is already guaranteed this year, he is easily the high-paid quarterback on the roster.

Then comes Josh Freeman, who will reportedly make $2 million from the Vikings this year on their pro-rated portion (12 games) of his new contract. However, Freeman, will also receive $6.25 million that is owed him for the remainder of his contract this year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one that was worth $8.43 million this year, meaning he will get more than $10 million this year in his double-dipping reality.

Then there is the man that Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said is still the team's starting quarterback if healthy. Christian Ponder, whom the team had stood by through thick and thin over the first three years of his career, is scheduled to make $2.77 million with his salary and the prorated portion of his $5.89 million rookie signing bonus.

"I think Christian still has a bright future here with our football team. It may not look like that on the surface, but Christian's a professional," Frazier said. "He's going to work as hard as he can every day to prepare, get back on the field and help our team win. He's a pro."

Interestingly, Freeman didn't want to sign a multi-year deal with anyone after being released by the Bucs last week. The thinking is that he will be able to garner some starts in Minnesota and increase his value (to them and other teams) if he turns in a good performance.

With Cassel's ability to opt out of his contract after this season, that means Ponder is the only quarterback under contract on the Vikings roster beyond this year. If they decide to release him, they wouldn't be on the hook for his $1.76 million base salary in 2014 but would still have the $1.47 million prorated portion of his signing bonus count against their salary cap.

Frazier, of course, has to be more concerned with the locker room, not the numbers on the legal pad.

"Our guys want us to do whatever it takes to win, whatever it takes to help us improve. They understand the business we're in, and we're trying to do something that's going to help us to win. So it should help our chemistry," he said.

It confusing how it would improve the chemistry, but acquiring Freeman lets the players know the Vikings aren't going to stand idly by when opportunities for upgrades arise.

"We're in a little bit of a precarious situation, maybe a situation that we haven't seen exactly like this before," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "But obviously at this point it is what it is, we added a new player to our team. I don't know any of the ins and outs or the shakeup, what's going to happen, I just know that we have a lot to clean up on defense. We have enough stuff to worry about so we're not going to try to let any of this become a distraction and just move onto the next day."

Last year, the Bucs beat the Vikings as Freeman completed 19 of 36 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions (104.2 rating) in Tampa Bay's 36-17 win.

"He's obviously a threatening guy. He can run just as well as he can pass, we faced a lot of guys like that last year, and we have a lot of guys like that on the schedule this year, so there is a little added things you have to be aware of," said safety Harrison Smith, a rookie last year.

In 2011, he also beat the Vikings 24-20, when Donovan McNabb was still Minnesota's starter. In that game, Freeman completed 22 or 31 passes for 243 yards, a touchdown, interception and 91.2 rating.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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