The St. Louis Rams are now in a minor scramble, surveying the NFL for a suitable replacement after Sam Bradford’s latest ACL injury has shelved him for the 2014 season. The organization has, at least in the early going, conceded that it likes Shaun Hill enough to call him the starter (for now). With few viable options available league-wide at this juncture, St. Louis is left with a host of free agent and second/third-string selections to potentially choose from. Given the short-term circumstance, one of the more sensible routes the franchise could take would be to locate a candidate with the experience to start now and the abilities to offer something different from those currently on the depth chart.
When melding that profile into one, there may not be a better fit than Christian Ponder of the Minnesota Vikings, all things considered.
The former Florida State standout has been reduced to third-string duties in the land of 10 000 lakes after Matt Cassel was named the starter and 1st round draft choice Teddy Bridgewater the understudy. In a new coaching era, the Vikings have clearly defined Bridgewater as its long term solution at the quarterback position, and keeping Ponder on the roster could only perpetuate the unrealistic notion of a battle for that distinction. He’s become something of a spectator in Vikings camp and his West Coast skill-set certainly isn’t a fit for Norv Turner’s offense on a technical level.
Ponder is entering the final year of his rookie deal and set to make a guaranteed salary of $1.76M. Though it’s not a sizable figure, the Vikings would do well to move the player unlikely to play a meaningful snap in 2014 and avoid incurring the salary. Minnesota’s coaching staff has given no indication that it intends to utilize the former 12th overall pick, and third-string quarterback’s could be found at a slightly lesser cost. Should the Rams make a move to acquire Ponder, it would be at a very team-friendly number, on a one-year term, with no obligations past the 2014 season. From a financial and term perspective, the move begins sounding reasonable for both parties.
Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer takes a balanced approach and relies on his ground game, which features the trio of Zac Stacy, Benny Cunnungham, and rookie Tre Mason. Regardless of who the team starts under center this season, it’s likely that St. Louis will be running the ball at a higher clip than it did in 2013. An incoming quarterback wouldn’t be tasked with much, especially early on. Despite how some might feel about Christian Ponder’s skill level, he offers significantly more than Shaun Hill does from a physical standpoint and would make the team’s offense mildly less one-dimensional than it’s currently projected to be.
All things considered, it’s difficult to find a more overall sensible candidate to help the St. Louis Rams replace Sam Bradford at this point of the preseason. Aside from revving up the B.S. machine to kick start another ridiculous “Favre Watch” campaign, we can say that Christian Ponder is among the most viable options in consideration. Valuation of the player could range between a 5th-7th round selection with conditional, performance-based clauses involved. Kellen Clemens spent time as Rams backup from 2011-2013, but he’s the established backup to Philip Rivers in San Diego now, while former Schottenheimer pupil Mark Sanchez just signed a one-year deal worth $2.25M + incentives to backup Nick Foles in Philadelphia.
Everyone wants Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Aaron Rodgers, but in an emergency situation it’s time to be realistic. Christian Ponder offers the right salary, starting experience, least amount of contractual obligation, and still possesses a modicum of potential for growth. Each day that passes we draw a little closer to the season, and it only becomes even more unreasonable to expect a new addition to pick up an entirely new offense. The Rams are on the clock once again.