INDIANAPOLIS -- Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is deep into a quarterback search that already includes private workouts with "eight or nine" prospects, he said.
Spielman is meeting with Matt Cassel's agent later Thursday to talk about re-signing the veteran QB to a new deal. And he said he'll lean on the expertise of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, whose clientele has included everyone from Troy Aikman to Brandon Weeden at quarterback.
We've talked at length about how the Vikings have other needs this spring, and I've heard from plenty of you who strongly believe quarterback isn't even the team's biggest problem heading into 2014. The way Spielman talked in a session with Vikings beat writers Thursday, though, would suggest that he's got the position at the top of his priority list.
"People who don't have one are always swinging to get one, and sometimes you go through two or three or four before you finally get one," he said. "If you're lucky to get one on the first go-around, you're great. Indy, here, they had Peyton Manning they took one, and then they got Andrew Luck because they were one again. That's pretty good because they don't have to worry about that position. But you're hoping like I said to be aggressive at that spot to hit on one. If you're sitting there not being aggressive, then how are you going to hit on one?"
There is enough depth in the quarterback class, Spielman said, that the Vikings wouldn't have to take one with the eighth overall pick. But he said in an ideal world, the Vikings would add a young quarterback and a veteran to go with Christian Ponder, who is still under contract for the 2014 season.
If the Vikings are able to get a veteran, and they invest a high draft choice in a quarterback, it's difficult to see much of a role for Ponder beyond backup duty. The Vikings will have to make a decision on Ponder's 2015 option by May, and if they pick it up, the deal would be guaranteed against injury.
The Vikings will get a chance to meet with many of the quarterbacks in this year's class at the combine, but they won't get to see all of them throw. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel reportedly doesn't plan to throw at the combine, while Central Florida's Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater plan to throw.
"The one thing I would say [to] these quarterbacks that don't throw here, what you're trying to do is you're trying to see his mechanics, his release," Spielman said. "They have a great opportunity, even with receivers running the 40, they have the cameras down actually on the field and they're taking shots of how he holds the ball. You can see from behind, even when they're throwing to stationary targets his release, how he looks throwing on the move. Stuff you're going to go out and see at his pro day if you're going to go out and see it. It's an opportunity to put yourself to start jockeying for position.
"To me, it's always -- whether agents agree or disagree -- it's a chance to compete and I don't put as much stock into the accuracy thing because I understand they haven't worked with these receivers and the timing. It's more just looking at the throwing motion, the mechanics, things like that. The arm strength. I think if you have a chance to compete, you should get out there and compete. An example has been Ben Roethlisberger. I remember everyone on him -- he didn't look very good and he ended up being a pretty damn good quarterback and still taken in the first round. So I think agents and players sometimes overthink this. Just go out there and give me a ball a let me throw it. Who cares?"