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Vikings decline QB Ponder's 5th-year option

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The Minnesota Vikings did not pick up quarterback Christian Ponder's fifth-year option before Saturday's midnight deadline, meaning their 2011 first-round pick will be a free agent after this season.
   Ponder's option would have been guaranteed only against injury until the start of the 2015 league year, but the quarterback said on Wednesday that the team hadn't talked to him about picking up the option, which would have paid him $9.686 million in 2015.
   The quarterback said this week he's still looking at the Vikings' quarterback situation as an open competition, even though Matt Cassel is expected to be the starter this season, and offensive coordinator Norv Turner didn't close the door on Ponder's future when talking about the quarterback situation on Thursday.
   "Christian is still a very young player who has done a lot of really good things and been put in a tough situation," Turner said.
   From this point, anything the Vikings say about Ponder's future still being bright has to be checked against the reality that they didn't see a scenario where the 26-year-old will be worth his option next season.

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