There was a point last season when many Minnesota Vikings fans were dreaming of the possible acquisition of quarterback Alex Smith, considered the best offseason option at the position in a weak year for those who needed new starters.
But there are no indications the Vikings were involved in discussions that led the Kansas City Chiefs to acquire him Wednesday, and if you're surprised or disappointed by that, then you haven't been paying attention to the team's very publicly stated plans.
Speaking last week at the NFL scouting combine, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier reiterated that Christian Ponder is the team's 2013 starter and that the only competition at the position will be for his backup. Some teams tend to use misinformation to mask interest elsewhere, but Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman appeared in lockstep on this issue.
"We really like the progress that Christian has made for us," Frazier said, "and we expect in his third season he's going to take another jump, and part of that will be what happens this offseason. So, we're not at a point where we're looking for a quarterback to come in and move Christian at all. We expect him just to keep getting better. … We feel like we have our guy in place. We just want to see him keep improving."
Early reports suggest the Chiefs gave up the No. 34 overall pick of the 2013 draft plus a conditional mid-level pick in 2014. That compensation suggests they plan to commit to him for several years via a long-term contract extension. We never discussed Smith in those terms for the Vikings; most of you viewed him as a bridge either to Ponder's further development or to the next young quarterback they might draft.
But so goes the state of quarterback depth in the NFL. It's unreasonable to think you can acquire a quality "bridge starter" at commensurate prices. To get Alex Smith, the Chiefs had to accept the idea of him as an unquestioned multi-year starter. The Vikings weren't prepared to do that, and no one should be surprised by that. They made Ponder the No. 12 overall pick in 2011 and are committed to him for the foreseeable future.