NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday that the team has declined to pick up the quarterback's fifth-year option, all but setting Ponder free to test the open market after the 2014 campaign.
Minnesota's decision comes as no surprise. The Vikings weren't about to pay Ponder $9.6 million when it's no guarantee he even makes the team this season.
It's clear the front office favors Matt Cassell, leading Ponder to tell The Star Tribune this week: "I think the expectation is that (Cassel is) going to be a starter. But for me, I'm competing for the job."
With Vikings looming as a strong bet to draft a rookie passer in next week's draft, Ponder -- the 12th overall pick in 2011 -- could enter camp as far down as third on the depth chart.
Releasing Ponder would cost the Vikings $3.2 million, which won't stop the team from parting ways with a signal-caller who won just two games in nine starts in 2013. While he recorded the highest completion percentage of his young career (63.6), Ponder has yet to evolve into a quarterback who can move the offense on a consistent basis.
He's not a type fit for Norv Turner's pass-heavy attack, and we wouldn't be stunned to see Ponder in a new uniform come September.