Despite being one of the most surprising teams in the NFL this season, the Minnesota Vikings still have some significant questions to answer on their roster heading toward the 2013 season. Most notable among those questions is finding out if Christian Ponder is the long-term answer at quarterback, and he will have to take a significant step forward next season to prove that he can become one of the league’s best signal callers.
If nothing else, Ponder’s value may have increased when an arm injury forced him to sit out the Vikings’ playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. Backup quarterback Joe Webb was forced into action, and the fact he had not attempted a pass all season showed as he struggled for basically the entire game. That has led to general manager Rick Spielman being forced to at least address the team’s backup quarterback situation this offseason, despite any public comments to the contrary, and recent news suggests they will not bring in someone to compete with Ponder for the starting job.
Ponder’s trade value is unclear at best, so moving him and failing to bring in an upgrade in free agency would be a significant step back for the team. That makes Webb a more likely trade candidate, especially since his athleticism makes him well-suited to run the read-option offense that has become prevalent around the league. His best moments during the playoff loss to Green Bay came while running the read-option, but Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave never went back to it in a significant way after their first offensive series.
2013 will be the final year of Webb’s contract, so this offseason is the last chance for Minnesota to get something of value for him while other teams around the league may still see him as an intriguing prospect. Since his body of work is not significant, with just three career starts counting this year’s playoff game, any team trading for Webb would be banking on his potential. That means the Vikings might be able to get a late-round draft pick for him, and anything more than that would be too much for another team to give up.
I have long been in the camp that says the Vikings’ coaching staff has to find ways to put Webb’s skills to use, be it as a wide receiver or a kick returner, especially since his window to become a functional NFL quarterback is quickly closing. I also think the coaching staff has not done Webb any favors by limiting him to being only a quarterback, so a change of scenery may be best for him in the long run.
Ultimately, Webb’s presence on the Vikings’ roster for the 2013 season should not have a significant impact on their win-loss record. It may simply come down to there being no place for him on the team if he is not the No. 2 quarterback, so trading him for anything looks like the best move right now.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.