The way the Minnesota Vikings have played this year and the benching of their quarterback Donovan McNabb in mid-October seemed to have created a bubble that finally burst on Thursday.
According to Jason La Canfora of NFL.com, the Vikings granted McNabb's request to release him during practice. After McNabb took reps with the third team, he had a conversation with coach Leslie Frazier, and, soon after, the request was granted.
McNabb, who was traded from the Washington Redskins to the Vikings in the offseason to be their starter after the team didn't offer an extension to Tarvaris Jackson, has been relatively overshadowed by rookie Christian Ponder ever since a gruesome 39-10 loss at the Chicago Bears in Week 6. McNabb's fate as backup was truly sealed the week after when the Vikings played the Green Bay Packers, albeit a 33-27 loss. Ponder's first career pass that game resulted in a Michael Jenkins 72-yard touchdown and, two plays later, the rookie hit Visanthe Shiancoe in the end zone for a short touchdown.
At the time of his benching, the long-time Philadelphia Eagle said he still had a lot of football left in him. Frazier, whose relationship with McNabb coincidentally dates back to their Philadelphia days, even lobbied for McNabb to be the Vikings starter, to bridge this summer's lockout gap until Ponder was fully ready to take control rather than rebuild.
Nevertheless, today was a culmination of declining doubt in Frazier's heart that McNabb wasn't the answer after all and that Ponder, although he may have been thrown into the lions in his first start, was readier than previously thought.
You don't want to be (in) Week 8 or 9 and flip-flopping quarterbacks, he said to reporters in a press conference the day after he made the decision to bench McNabb and go with Ponder. Once a decision is made, if we were to decide to go with Christian, you'd like to be able to say that this is the way to go. You don't want to be, in my mind, going back and forth.
In hindsight, we can now say Frazier was a man of his word in the benching respect. But, remember when he said the benching gave the team the best chance to win? Well, it hasn't...yet. With McNabb under center, the Vikings went 1-4. With Ponder, they have gone 1-4. Still, there are games left to be played.
McNabb has 24 hours to clear waivers until teams can put a claim on him. According to La Canfora, McNabb, whose salary with the Vikings this year was $5 million, will cost $1.5 million for the rest of the season for the team that claims him.
Reports say that the most sensible destination for him would be his hometown Chicago Bears, who, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, holds the 24th waiver claim. The Bears currently have backup Caleb Hanie under center after starter Jay Cutler had season-ending thumb surgery and could use McNabb to bolster their chances of getting into the playoffs.
McNabb has played in five NFC Championship Games and started a Super Bowl for the Philadelphia Eagles. He ended this season with 1,026 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions with a quarterback rating of 82.9.