The three QBs on the Vikings’ roster have thrown a combined total of 89 NFL passes in their lives. And all 89 have been thrown by Joe Webb.
This is why, most people agree, the Vikings have to add a veteran at some point during this off-season. The debate is over which kind of veteran the Vikings should pursue.
Do they go after Donovan McNabb, a borderline Hall-of-Famer who may have no interest in the bridge/mentor role most have in mind for whoever the Vikings pick up? Or should they set their sights lower, and get a guy who will be content to sit on the bench behind Joe Webb or Christian Ponder?
For his part, Leslie Frazier already has his mind made up about what kind of experienced quarterback he prefers. Speaking to PFT Live, Frazier outlined his dream veteran.
“If we went that route [signing a veteran], we’d probably want a guy that could compete to start,” Frazier said. “I don’t know if I’d want a ‘coach-type’ guy.”
In other words, forget about Gus Frerotte making a comeback. Frazier wants somebody who still has enough in the tank to be able to start if needed.
But here’s where that quandary pops up again. Is a guy who has enough left to compete for the starting job going to sign with a team knowing that team only wants him around until their young guy is ready?
Frazier is well-aware of this dilemma. “Every guy doesn’t want to come in and mentor a young quarterback,” the coach said. “Most want to come in and be the face of the franchise. We’re hoping that one of the young guys will be our leader for years to come.”
So, Frazier wants a guy who can start, but doesn’t necessarily need to start. He wants a guy who will be ready if it turns out Webb/Ponder isn’t, but doesn’t have it in his head that he’s going to be the man for multiple years.
On the surface, this would seem to rule out Donovan McNabb, who probably thinks he’s got three or four more good years left in him, and will want to move to a team that is willing to commit to him as the starter for that amount of time. It might also rule out Matt Hasselbeck, who is a little older than McNabb, but still not yet willing to settle into a late-career back-up/mentor role.
The QB Frazier describes sounds more like a veteran who is at the tail end, a guy with one or two years left at best, or a guy who has struggled in recent years and would just be happy to have any shot.
This brings some names into play that aren’t going to exactly excite the fanbase. Names like Marc Bulger (suggested by our own Judson Coleman) and Kerry Collins if you want the old guy at the end, Matt Leinart and Vince Young if you want the younger guy who craves another shot.
But no matter who you pick up, this whole plan only really works if Ponder winds up becoming the man in the next two years. When you use the #12 overall pick on a guy, you expect him to become your starter. He doesn’t have to be the starter in 2011, but you’d hope that by 2012 he’d be ready.
Ideally, the Vikings would bring in a veteran strictly as a back-up/mentor, and have Christian Ponder totally kill it in camp, eliminating the need for that guy to ever play. But we’re a long way from knowing if Ponder is ready to step up and be the man right out of the gate. For his own peace-of-mind, I’m sure Frazier would love a solid veteran who can step in just in case the young guys stumble.
For my peace-of-mind, I’d love Donovan McNabb, because I’m silly enough to think this team has one more playoff run in it before the time comes to hand the keys to the rook. I realize however that McNabb may not look at the Minnesota situation as ideal for him and what he still thinks he can do. What we don’t know yet is how many offers McNabb will actually get once the time comes for him to leave Washington, either via trade or getting cut.
McNabb could have a couple teams after him, in which case the Vikings might find themselves out of the running. But, maybe nobody else comes knocking on Donovan’s door. Maybe the Vikings end up being his only choice.
Or, maybe McNabb goes someplace like Seattle, which jars loose Matt Hasselbeck, who then ends up with nowhere to go but Minnesota. This could still shake out a lot of ways. But like I said before, there’s really only one good way for the QB drama to end: With Christian Ponder vindicating the Vikings’ decision to draft him as high as they did.
That’s the burden of a #12 overall quarterback. Good luck, rook.