Thursday, February 16, 2006

Daunte Culpepper: Limp, Roll or Charter Boat Your Way to the Door

Daunte Culpepper is either incredibly smart or incredibly dumb. The former Pro-Bowl quarterback is quickly becoming the Enemy of the State in Minnesota. After repeated demands for a raise, Culpepper is now the subject of trade rumors.

After a class five disaster of a season, Culpepper has the gall to ask for a pay raise. This can be taken two ways, either he is trying to force a trade or he is truly dumb and overvalues himself. Calculated or not, this tactic does not endear his public image in the Twin Cities.

On the other hand, maybe Culpepper isn’t so stupid. The West Coast offense really doesn’t play to his strengths and would force him to learn a new system at the same time he is rehabbing from a serious knee injury. Perhaps a team with a vertical passing game would be a better fit for Culpepper.

To request a fresh start may be best for both parties. The Vikings are being smart so far by not overreacting. They held firm with Culpepper and resisted getting into a public spitting match.

The Vikings will move swiftly on any trade talks. Trades can be approved beginning on March 3rd while Culpepper is due a $6 million roster bonus on March 14th.
The trouble will be trying to get fair value for Culpepper in a trade. One draft pick seems too small a price for a quarterback who, despite a difficult rehab, is only 28, entering his prime and has the potential to be an MVP. Of the teams with rumored interest (Baltimore, Miami, Oakland) there aren’t many tradable players to pique the Vikings’ interest.

Teams know Culpepper wants out and will not overpay for him or simply wait for the Vikings to release Culpepper on March 14th. It will take some clever maneuvering for the Vikings to garner anything near Culpepper’s true value. If he is traded a legitimate quarterback prospect becomes all the more necessary. Drafting a young QB that can suits Brad Childress’ offense might be easier than attempting to reprogram a veteran quarterback into something he is not.

Culpepper deserves blame for his actions that led the two parties to the current point. It is pretty clear he will not be back. It was probably avoidable, but that is irrelevant now. Culpepper is getting his way and it is up to the Vikings’ Triangle of Power and Wisdom to extract as much value as possible. Meanwhile fans can say thanks for the two playoff appearances, the many highlights and the awkward and hideous Roll celebration. Here’s hoping Daunte gets what he wishes and ends up in the Black Hole in Oakland. Otherwise known as complete football disarray and a 5-11 season.