- Ben Goessling, ESPN Staff Writer
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings will begin in earnest their next search for a franchise quarterback at the NFL scouting combine next week, with a first-time head coach, an offensive coordinator who has worked with everyone from Troy Aikman to Brandon Weeden, and a general manager who has so far been unable to find the former and has unearthed too many of the latter.
The Vikings will likely add a young quarterback to their roster this offseason, and they could bring in a veteran, too, either by re-signing Matt Cassel -- who opted out of his 2014 contract last week -- or by adding another free agent this spring. They will be aggressive at the position, general manager Rick Spielman said, but they also know they can't reach for a quarterback with the eighth overall pick just to take one at the top of the draft.
Not with the effects of what happened last time they took a quarterback in the first round still so fresh in their minds.
"You go out and do your due diligence and do everything you possibly can to make those decisions right," Spielman said at his pre-combine news conference on Friday. "We really felt, coming out of the playoffs (in 2012), and the way Christian (Ponder) was playing, because he played well toward the end of the season -- he started out strong, and went in that dip, and started to come, that, 'Hey, this is a second-year guy that's on the come,' and the inconsistencies, didn't carry over last year. That's going to make us look and re-evaluate that position. Like I said, it isn't because we're not here working our rear ends off, trying to get it right, but I think teams that don't have a franchise guy are always going to be doing that."
Ponder is under contract for 2014, and "will be here," Spielman said, but the Vikings certainly aren't proceeding with him at the forefront of their plans. He wouldn't rule out the possibility of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner being able to help Ponder put things together, but it's clear Ponder has burned through his time with the benefit of the doubt.
"Well, right now we’re looking at quarterbacks, so we would say we don’t have that position solidified," Spielman said. "I know Christian does have the physical abilities to do it, but for whatever reason things haven’t come together for him. Sometimes you look at the history of [Alex] Smith, who was out in San Francisco. Sometimes maybe it clicks, maybe it doesn’t. Baltimore went through it a little bit with Kyle Boller, and then they went through it with Joe Flacco. I know we talk about Seattle, they went through their [struggles] and then they hit on Russell Wilson in the third round. You’ve just got to keep getting up there and trying to keep turning it over to try and find that right combination and that right quarterback for your franchise."