McNabb makes sense -- as a backup

On Monday, I laid out why I thought the Minnesota Vikings wouldn't -- and shouldn't -- pursue a starting-caliber quarterback.

On Tuesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Vikings were among the teams talking to the Washington Redskins about a possible trade for Donovan McNabb.

OK then.

According to Schefter, the Vikings need McNabb to restructure his contract before they're willing to make a deal. Under the terms of his current contract, McNabb is due to make $12.5 million plus other incentives. If other teams are also involved in talks, they haven't been identified.

You know where I stand on this. The Vikings made Christian Ponder the No. 12 overall pick in the draft in part because he was considered the most pro-ready quarterback available. It's true that he hasn't had the benefit of offseason workouts with the team, but is it really worth the forfeiture of a draft pick and salary cap space for what could be a half-season stint as the Vikings' starter?

Here's what coach Leslie Frazier said along those lines Monday: "We're going to do from a roster standpoint what's best for our football team and our organization long term, not in the short term. We're just going to try to make decisions that in the long term are going to be best for our football team and not get caught up in some of the scenarios ... . We're just going to try to do the best for our team long term."

So what is best for the long term? Many people would tell you it is getting a young quarterback on the field as quickly as possible. With all due respect to what the Green Bay Packers did with Aaron Rodgers, quarterback development doesn't typically happen on the sideline anymore.

I'm not saying the Vikings should sacrifice their short-term competitiveness. But if Ponder isn't ready in Week 1, you wonder if someone like Joe Webb or Tyler Thigpen couldn't hold down the fort until he is. Isn't that a smarter long-term move than trading for a declining player who can't start for a team that plans to have Rex Grossman and John Beck compete for the job this summer? The Vikings drafted Ponder to end their cycle of Band-Aid solutions at quarterback, not to extend it.

We all know that McNabb struggled badly with the Redskins last season. If his career has diminished to the point where he would accept a backup job behind a rookie, then perhaps this makes sense. But if McNabb comes to Minnesota with the understanding he is the 2011 starter, then I don't get it.