Christian Ponder on thin ice after Josh Freeman deal


The choke collar on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder's short leash just got a lot tighter.

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Coach Leslie Frazier has consistently maintained that Ponder is his starting quarterback, but actions speak louder than words.

The Vikings already had a veteran backup in Matt Cassel. On Sunday night, they agreed to pay former Buccaneers signal-caller Josh Freeman about $3 million on a one-year contract, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, to provide an alternative to Ponder, not as mere insurance.

"We just have to figure out where things went wrong in Tampa Bay so we can help him," a Vikings source told's Josina Anderson. "He is too young not to progress."

Freeman will need time to pick up Bill Musgrave's offense. Once that is accomplished, Ponder will have to win games to keep his job.

With the installation of the rookie wage scale, NFL teams no longer are beholden to their first-round quarterbacks. If the player's development stalls, the organization can move on with no regard to sunk costs or salary-cap damage.

Freeman had 10 teams interested in his services, according to Rapoport. His signing signals the end of the Vikings' commitment to Ponder, who has one more year left on his rookie contract.

The Vikings just are one-and-a-half games out of first place in a tightly contested NFC North. They have enough talent on both sides of the ball to compete for the division crown with improved quarterback play.

By the end of the month, we might get to see if Freeman can resurrect Minnesota's playoff hopes -- as well as his own once-promising career.

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