Friday, September 4, 2009

The quarterback conundrum

Four quarterbacks and (probably) only three spots to keep them. What's a team to do?

It's not news that the Vikings are asking teams about a potential trade for Tarvaris Jackson before the Saturday cuts. If the return is what we're hearing -- at best, a second-day, probably 5th round or later pick -- then that limits their options greatly. If the team can't work out a trade for Jackson, one of the other QBs has to go, and Brett Favre won't be one of them. And because Sage Rosenfels is on the hook for $9 million over the next two years, he probably won't go either. That leaves Jackson and John David Booty as the odd men out.

(By the way, can I just take a minute to say how much I hate Yahoo's new team page layout? Let's see, no schedule, no pulldown list so I can easily float to other teams' pages...good job taking useful features away just so I could be sure to know that Taylor Melhaff has been cut!)

No matter what happens this year, there is basically zero chance of Tarvaris Jackson being a Viking in 2010. He's in the last year of his rookie contract and, really, if you'd been treated the way he had -- being cast aside not once but twice this offseason -- wouldn't you like to get a fresh start somewhere else? This is probably also the limiting factor in trade talks. Any team that acquires Jackson will only have his services, probably as a backup QB, for 2009, with no guarantee that he'll stick around past that, or even that you'll want him to stick around. That doesn't give the Vikings a lot of leverage.

But the Vikings are a team that's thinking of winning the Super Bowl this year. Teams don't often go to their third-string quarterbacks, but if something happens to Favre and if Rosenfels can't get it done, who would you want leading the team in December? Say what you will about Jackson, but I think we'd all have more confidence in him right now than in Booty.

So could Booty survive a trip to the practice squad? Memories are fresh of the Vikings trying to sneak Tyler Thigpen there a few years ago, only to have the Chiefs snatch him up on waivers. At this point, Thigpen looks like at least a decent backup QB/spot starter -- not bad for a seventh-round pick, but not exactly someone we're regretting losing. Booty's name recognition as a former USC quarterback probably would make it even tougher for us to stash him away on the practice squad, but would there really be any harm done in losing him? As I pointed out just after he was drafted, fifth-round QBs rarely develop into anything resembling a quality player, so his loss would probable have minimal impact. And he's not going to be the starter next year either, not with Favre and Rosenfels around, so do we keep him sitting around for a total of three years collecting dust and then hope he can turn into something useful?

I say no. Unless he shows something amazing in tonight's final preseason game, I think the Vikings' best option is to try and stick Booty on the practice squad and hope he gets through. If he doesn't, it's not a big deal -- we can replace him easily enough with a second-day QB pick in next year's draft. Whoever that is will have a year of tutelage under Favre and Rosenfels and then might be ready to contribute in 2011. Otherwise, quite frankly, John David Booty is just wasting a roster spot for the next two years.

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