EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb from the Washington Redskins in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick.
Two people with knowledge of the transaction confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Wednesday night. They requested anonymity because McNabb has yet to officially sign his restructured contract.
McNabb had to agree to restructure the five-year, $78 million deal he signed with the Redskins because the Vikings don’t have enough cap room to fit him in with the way the deal is structured. The terms of his new deal were not immediately available.
The finalized agreement, which was first reported by ESPN, also includes a conditional sixth-round pick in 2013 if McNabb meets certain performance-based criteria.
McNabb gives the Vikings a veteran quarterback while they groom first-round draft pick Christian Ponder, who was drafted 12th overall out of Florida State in April to be the team’s long-term answer at the position. The original preference for coach Leslie Frazier and the Vikings was to have Ponder start Week 1 in San Diego, with a veteran backup there just in case.
That was before the NFL lockout prevented players from working out with coaches all summer and put Ponder behind schedule in his development. That makes it more imperative for the Vikings, who had Brett Favre on the roster the past two seasons, to add a quarterback they think can win games with a roster full of veterans while Ponder gets up to speed.
From the sounds of it, Ponder isn’t conceding anything just yet.
“Excited to have McNabb join,” Ponder wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning, perhaps jumping the gun just a little bit. “Will learn a lot from a Pro Bowler. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still fighting to start week 1!”
The trade ends a tumultuous one-year run in Washington for McNabb. The 12-year veteran was benched twice last season and threw 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 13 games. He completed 58 percent of his passes for 3,377 yards, and his agent Fletcher Smith sparred publicly with head coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Even before the deal was completed, some Redskins players were already treating McNabb’s departure as a foregone conclusion. The writing has been on the wall for some time in Washington, and news of the discussions with the Vikings only served to validate that feeling.
“You see a guy that’s been a Pro Bowler six times,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “He was going to come in and really help us win more games, but it didn’t work out. Relationships broke down, and now he’s not here, but you can’t really focus on that. You’ve got to continue to move forward.”
In Minnesota, McNabb’s acquisition would show accomplished veterans such as Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen and Kevin Williams that the team is still in a “win now” mode and has not started a rebuild around Ponder.
Frazier has maintained all along that the Vikings are not rebuilding, even after they went 6-10 last season and finished in last place in the NFC North for the first time since 1990.
Ponder was billed as the most NFL-ready quarterback in the 2011 class, but not being able to work with new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and most of his teammates at various minicamps and organized team activities throughout the summer would make it a bigger challenge for him to be ready to start in San Diego on Sept. 11.
Ponder said last week during a workout at the University of Minnesota that he still was aiming to be the starter from Day 1.
“That’s what I’m pushing for,” he said. “That’s what I’m hoping for. So we’ll see what happens.”
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