VIKINGS SHOPPING CULPEPPER
Roughly a year ago, we broke the news that the Vikings were in the process of trading Randy Moss. Now, we're told that the Vikings actively are shopping quarterback Daunte Culpepper.
Per a league source, the Vikings are contacting all of the teams perceived to be in the market for a quarterback in order to gauge interest for a trade. The initial asking price, per the source, is a second-round draft pick.
The Vikings undoubtedly would be looking for much more if Culpepper hadn't suffered tears to three ligaments in his right knee on October 30, at the end of the first quarter of a game against the Panthers. The Vikings also would be looking for much more if Culpepper's play hadn't collapsed from 2004, in which he put together one of the best seasons ever at the position, to 2005, in which his performance was mediocre at best.
Tensions recently have climbed between the Vikings and Culpepper. After suffering the injury and undergoing surgery, Culpepper essentially became a stranger to the organization. After the season ended, Culpepper tried to resume talks aimed at restructuring a contract that runs through the 2013 season. (In 2005, the Vikings agreed to push $8 million in future money forward.) Culpepper since has fired agent Mason Ashe, and Culpepper might end up representing himself in connection with any future efforts to finagle more money.
For the Vikings, the bigger question (as we'd previously heard it) was whether Culpepper would be able to perform effectively in new coach Brad Childress's offense. Childress, we'd heard, was concerned that Culpepper couldn't pull it off. Coupled with the fact that Daunte won't be available to get on the field through the offseason program and training camp, there's no way he'd be effective as the team's quarterback this season.
So, apparently, the team has decided that the best thing to do is to make a move now, before Culpepper becomes even more of a distraction than he already is.
The problem, of course, will be finding a trade partner. Teams with possible needs at the position in 2006 include the Jets, Dolphins, Ravens, Browns, Titans, Raiders, Lions, Packers, Saints, and Rams.
Former Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is the head coach in St. Louis. Linehan was calling the plays in Minnesota when Culpepper put together his MVP-caliber performance in 2004. Moss publicly has indicated that he would welcome Daunte in Oakland. And although the Vikings are unlikely to do a deal within the NFC North, new Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz surely could draw up a playbook suited to Culpepper's unique size and deceptive speed.
We assume that the Cardinals aren't in the mix for Culpepper, given that Kurt Warner recently was signed to a three-year deal worth at least $18 million. We likewise assume that the Vikings made a call or two to Arizona in order to see whether Denny Green, who used the first-round pick obtained from the Redskins for Brad Johnson in 1999 to draft Culpepper, would be interested in a reunion.
Culpepper's health is the primary impediment to any possible trade. If he's never the same guy that he was due to the injury, the second-round pick is wasted. That's why we think the Vikings will be able to move him only in exchange for one or more conditional picks in 2007 or, possibly, 2008. Then, the ultimate value surrendered by the new team would be determined by the extent to which Culpepper can perform following the completion of his rehab.
Another significant glitch that needs to be addressed is Culpepper's $6 million roster bonus, due in early March. Given the uncertainties of the CBA negotiations, it will be hard for any team to justify devoting $8 million in 2006 cap dollars to a player who might not be available to play at all during the coming season.
In the end, the Vikings might not be able to justify it, either. And we wouldn't be shocked if decided to release Culpepper, if they can't get what they want for him in trade.
This was posted today, so it's not old trade rumors that I THOUGHT were recently put to bed.