Ponder weighs options after rocky season

Christian Ponder isn't sure what to expect from the Vikings, but he made it clear what he wants for himself in 2014.

Christian Ponder wasn't sure what to think of his future after another roller-coaster season.

The Minnesota Vikings quarterback entered the season, his third in the NFL, with complete public support from the Vikings organization, from head coach Leslie Frazier to general manager Rick Spielman.

But Ponder's season didn't go the way he hoped, or way the team's decision-makers hoped.

He started nine games, completing 63.6 percent of his passes for 1,648 yards, seven touchdowns and nine interceptions.

"It was definitely an interesting year. And not the way that I thought it would play out or probably anyone wanted it to play out," Ponder said. "So with my job I didn't play well enough to keep the job and for us to win as many games as we should have. So it stinks knowing that was a contribution to what happened."

Ponder made it clear he is looking for a starting opportunity in 2014, whether that is with the Vikings or another team. His preference would be to stay with the familiar surroundings.

"This is what I'm familiar with. These guys, my teammates, the ones I have a relationship with and this is where I'd like to continue to be," Ponder said. "But ultimately I want a shot to be a starter. So if that's not here then I'll have to find somewhere else."

Ponder said several times after Frazier was fired that he needed to speak with Spielman about his future. Ponder has one year remaining on his rookie contract, calling for a salary-cap number of $3.23 million in 2014.

But what if the opportunity to start isn't with the Vikings? Would Ponder request a trade or to be released?

"We'll see if that happens. I'll try to talk to Rick today and see what he says and we'll go from there," Ponder said on Monday.

Ultimately, Ponder is under contract with the Vikings for another season, but Matt Cassel, who took the starting job from Ponder, has a clause in his contract that allows him to opt out of his contract before Feb. 7.

Cassel finished the season completing 60.2 percent of his passes for 1,807 yards, 11 touchdowns, nine interceptions and an 81.6 rating.

The Vikings could also select a quarterback in the early rounds of May's draft.

"All that is yet to be determined," Spielman said. "One thing I want to do – and I've always done this – the coaching staff will be heavily involved in that decision process. I want to make sure everybody gets on board so when we make that decision, it's a Minnesota Vikings decision. Although I know I'm ultimately responsible for that decision."

Ponder said he wouldn't be surprised if both he and Cassel were back in 2014.

"I think there could be a lot of competition there, which is good for both of us. But I think I would expect that once a decision is made it will be probably to stick with that guy and not have what happened this year," Ponder said. "Matt's done well and obviously he's been the starter the past few weeks. And he'll probably be named the starter going into the offseason if he opts in or they opt in. We'll see. I think it could be a good competition. We have a good relationship. I think it could work out well."

He is well aware that drafting a quarterback could be added to the mix, too.

Ponder got several chances with the Vikings. After starting the final 10 games of his rookie season, he started all 16 in 2012 but missed the Vikings' only playoff appearance with Frazier as the head coach when he had a bruised triceps. Injuries and ineffectiveness derailed his 2013 season.

"I think he tried to keep giving me a chance and so that was big," Ponder said of Frazier. "He gave me a chance just to come here and just be the starter. So I'll appreciate that. And that's a relationship I'd like to have for the rest of my life. He's a great guy and gave me that opportunity and it just stinks that it didn't work out."

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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