Desperation can make a team do things that once seemed crazy. And the Vikings right now are nearing a state of more than desperation. They are approaching full on code red QB panic.
A quick check of the Vikings’ roster shows they have only one quarterback currently under contract, that being Christian Ponder.
Having Ponder as your only option under center is a puke-worthy situation. The Vikings know this. Mike Zimmer has let Ponder know that the Vikings know this.
Zimmer has informed Ponder, and the world, that the Vikings will be seeking other options via the draft and free agency.
Unless something drastic happens, the draft will likely yield a QB who isn’t ready to play in the first year. If the Vikes want an immediate option to compete with Ponder for the job in 2014, they will most likely have to go the free agent route.
The impression I’m getting is that the Vikings would prefer to fill their need with a familiar player, namely Matt Cassel. The Vikings have reportedly been in contact with Cassel’s people and a reunion between the two sides is still a possibility.
But let’s assume for a moment that Plan A, Cassel, falls through. What then for the Vikings?
It’s back into the free agent pool. And that’s when things get even more ugly.
To put it bluntly, this year’s QB class is more emaciated and sad-looking than Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club.
When Tarvaris Jackson can crack the list of top five available free agent QBs? That’s a thin class.
Inevitably, one’s eyes are drawn to two names at the top of this less-than-illustrious list: Michael Vick and Josh McCown.
Vick is out of Philadelphia after being bumped by Nick Foles. McCown is a hot backup after the way he played filling in for Jay Cutler.
Neither guy exactly excites you, unless you’re one of those people who is still convinced Vick just needs to land in the right system for all his vast talents to finally be unleashed.
I think you can discount McCown right off the top. The strong indication is that McCown will return to Chicago to back up Jay Cutler. McCown seems happy in that spot and the Bears value McCown enough after what he did in 2013 to give him a nice monetary reward for staying.
So that leaves Vick. Oh, and one other guy who isn’t yet officially in the pool but should be diving in any day.
That guy is Mark Sanchez. We’ve discussed Sanchez before. His name is once again bubbling up in connection with the Vikings.
Sanchez will be cut by the Jets before his March 25 roster bonus comes due. Warts and all, Sanchez will immediately become one of the top five free agents on the market.
It’s hard to look at Mark Sanchez and not see another Christian Ponder. They seem to basically be the same guy. Sort of talented, but not super-talented. A little soft between the ears perhaps.
The difference is that Sanchez has been to a conference championship game a couple of times. But no one really gives Sanchez credit for that. It was all the defense. And a sprinkling of Rex Ryan magic.
No one gives Ponder credit for the 2012 playoff run either. These guys could write a book together about being the QB who doesn’t get credit.
So the natural question is: how does it make sense signing another guy who is basically the same as the first guy you already have?
The answer? Pure desperation.
As they say, beggars can’t be choosers. The Vikings aren’t in position to draft one of the top 3 QBs. Cassel might end up in Houston. Trading a pick for Ryan Mallett or Kirk Cousins would seem to go against the Rick Spielman philosophy.
So, Michael Vick or Mark Sanchez? Yes, that’s what it might come down to.
Vick has the obvious advantage in terms of tools, but he’s also injury prone. Sanchez is unexciting talent-wise but there’s the “Rich Gannon” factor with him. Could Sanchez, removed from the soul-crushing New York media meat grinder, experience a new flowering of confidence?
Could Sanchez 2.0 be like Gannon 2.0?
I don’t need to remind you that the Vikings have Norv Turner now. Isn’t he the quarterback Yoda? The perfect guy to Gannonize Mark Sanchez?
It’s very much of a stretch to think that Sanchez might have a full-scale renaissance in his immediate future. But here’s the thing that might make him attractive anyway: he’ll come dirt cheap.
He won’t be much more expensive than Josh Freeman was last year, and frankly I think Sanchez is a more likely candidate for resurrection than Freeman ever was.
I think Sanchez is a more likely candidate for resurrection than Christian Ponder, who at this point probably needs to go somewhere else for a full career reboot.
Neither Vick nor Sanchez is an ideal candidate in the short term. Sanchez is more attractive because, if by some miracle he does turn it around, he’s young enough to represent a long-term option.
Come to think of it, weren’t we saying the same things about Josh Freeman last year?
That’s how bad it’s gotten in Minnesota. That’s what years of mismanaging the quarterback position has wrought for Rick Spielman.
Make a crazy trade up in the draft and get Teddy Bridgewater? Trade away a precious pick for Kirk Cousins? Sign Mark Sanchez to compete with Christian Ponder in camp?
Those may be our top three choices.
Now that I think about it, is Tarvaris Jackson really that bad?