Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has certainly struggled to be effective as a passer in recent weeks, which has brought questions about his status as the team’s starting quarterback heading into the 2013 season.
At minimum, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman needs to upgrade the team’s quarterback situation behind Ponder this offseason. Joe Webb is clearly not seen within the organization as a viable option to start games, or else he would have a had a better chance to at least see the field with how Ponder has looked in multiple games this season. The team staying afloat in the NFC playoff race is definitely a big reason for keeping Webb on the bench, but adding a legit option to push Ponder or perhaps take over for him should be near to the top of Minnesota’s checklist during free agency and next April’s draft.
The New York Jets have their own issues at quarterback, with the long overdue benching of Mark Sanchez finally coming for the final two regular season games. But Tim Tebow is not the next man up, with head coach Rex Ryan naming Greg McElroy the starter for Week 16 against the San Diego Chargers. Of course the rumors are now flying that Sanchez will be traded and Tebow will be traded or released after the season, and it would be a fairly big surprise if both guys are not available. Sanchez’s contract ($8.25 million in guaranteed money for 2013) may dictate his staying in New York, but he would definitely benefit from a fresh start with another team.
Should the Vikings have significant interest in Tebow or Sanchez?
Tebow obviously does not have traditional quarterback skills, but his potential role with the Jets never materialized as Ryan continually backed Sanchez through thick and thin. Multiple teams will have interest in him if he is available, though how legitimate an opportunity to play he would get largely depends on where he lands. There will still be teams out there that simply want to grab headlines and sell tickets by bringing Tebow aboard, even with the benefit of hindsight regarding how the Jets’ experiment failed on the field.
Sanchez has regressed over the last two seasons after leading the Jets to the playoffs in his first two seasons, though a clear lack of talent around him has not helped things. He needs a change of scenery at this point, and having a more stable organization around him from top to bottom should help him as well.
Tebow and Sanchez will be two of the bigger quarterback names out there this offseason, assuming both wind up being available, but I think the Vikings would be best served to leave both guys alone. Adding Tebow is akin to bringing the circus to town, and a clear parallel can be drawn between where Ponder will be in his career heading into next season and where Sanchez was coming into this season. Adding a distraction will not help Ponder or the team at all, and it’s unclear what Tebow would offer on the field if he does not become the clear-cut starting quarterback.
There is the added financial element of trading for Sanchez, even if the Jets are willing to eat some of the money he is owed, and the upside just isn’t there. How Sanchez would adjust to being a backup, or having to compete for a starting job, after a heralded collegiate career then stepping right into a starting job in the NFL is a question as well.
There should be multiple options on the free agent market that look like a better fit for Minnesota than either of the Jets’ quarterbacks, and using a middle round pick on a quarterback in April would also be a better choice than Tebow or Sanchez .