The Vikings released quarterback Donovan McNabb, but his future wasn't immediately clear.
McNabb will hit the waiver wire, giving other NFL teams an opportunity to put in a claim for him if they are willing to pick up the remaining portion of his salary, which would be almost $1.5 million for the remaining five games. If he clears waivers, he would be free to sign with any other team.
Discussion of the move between McNabb and head coach Leslie Frazier began on Wednesday, Frazier said.
"We both agreed mutually that this was the best decision for both parties. He was a great player and has been a great player for our league for a long, long time," Frazier said. "Have a lot of affection and love for Donovan. Tremendous person, tremendous competitor and we really wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. He did a good job for us here. Really helped our young quarterbacks. Did a good job in a lot of ways."
McNabb was benched after six starts and a 1-5 record, as the Vikings moved to rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. McNabb completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 1,026 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions during his six games of work. Ponder has completed 54.4 percent of his passes for 1,141 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions.
“Looking back and just knowing Donovan and knowing his history, I don’t think I would have done anything different," said Frazier, who knew McNabb from their days together at Philadelphia and was instrumental in the Vikings trading a sixth-round draft pick for him before training camp began in late July. "Knowing the circumstances and the situation we were in coming into the season with the offseason being what it was, that familiarity went a long ways toward making that decision, so I don’t think I would have done it any differently.”
At the time of McNabb’s benching, Frazier said he was making the move because he believed Ponder gave the Vikings the better chance to win. The Vikings were 1-5 with McNabb as their starter and are 1-4 with Ponder as their starter.
McNabb was scheduled to make $5.05 million in base salary this year. Chicago and Houston are both in need of a starting quarterback after injuries to their respective starters, but the Texans reportedly aren't going to put a claim in for McNabb.
Frazier said he believes McNabb can still play but wasn't sure if the 13-year veteran of the NFL wants to. McNabb didn't talk about retirement, Frazier said. Appearing on ESPN, McNabb acknowledged that he asked for his release and appealed to general managers across the league that he could bring experience to their team.
"You're bringing a veteran who can bring experience to your ball club, athletic ability," McNabb said. "A guy who is not a locker room cancer. He works hard, great work ethic and only wants to win. I'm a winner and I've proven that."
Frazier said he wasn't sure if McNabb could still be a starter in the league.
"You guys watched our games that he started," Frazier said when asked what didn't work with McNabb in Minnesota. "There were a lot of factors contributing to our not winning ballgames. As I mentioned when I made the change, it wasn't all about Donovan. That's been proven along the way. There are a lot of other areas on our team that need to be going in the right direction in order for us to have success. It's not just the QB position."
Frazier said McNabb was "awesome" and a "true pro" around Ponder and Joe Webb, a second-year player. The Vikings have discussed using Webb more at receiver, but Frazier admitted that the release of McNabb "alters your thinking" about that situation.
LB E.J. Henderson (shoulder), RB Adrian Peterson (ankle) and DE Jared Allen (personal) didn't participate in Thursday's Vikings practice.
CB Asher Allen (shoulder), G Anthony Herrera (knee) and TE Kyle Rudolph (quad) were limited.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.