Will Brett Favre be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer? There's no way to say for sure yet, but there's plenty to consider.
First, Favre has been a pain in the Green Bay Packers' side for the past three weeks. It would seem to these untrained eyes, far away from Lambeau Field, that Favre was bluffing with all of this bluster, and the Packers called him on it. Now that the Packers have moved on, Favre is left with few options — be traded or stay retired.
Reading Packers head coach Mike McCarthy's comments on Tuesday were telling. The most important one for Buccaneers fans is McCarty's assertion that Favre, while certainly desiring to play in 2008, may not be as committed to preparation as he was last year. As any average football fan knows, preparation is everything leading up to gameday.
Does Favre simply want to be a part of the camaraderie of the locker room and coast on his talent, or does he truly want to be a difference-maker for a team? McCarthy's comment suggested that Favre is unsure.
"That's a good question for him," McCarthy told reporters.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Favre is ready to talk to the Buccaneers. Does that mean trade talks will go anywhere? It's hard to say. The Bucs have made it clear they've had no conversations with Favre in the past.
But head coach Jon Gruden loves quarterbacks and has a soft spot for Favre. He may see the graying star as the difference-maker his team needs.
But can Favre be that difference-maker? He needs time to learn Gruden's offense, and current starter Jeff Garcia said last week that it's no picnic. It took him half the year to learn Gruden's complicated offense. It doesn't sound like a job for a quarterback that isn't sure he wants to put in the preparation.
Plus, Favre must create chemistry with an entire offense, and do so within a month of opening day. That's a tall order for a backup like Luke McCown, who has taken plenty of the first-team reps while Garcia has nursed a strained calf.
Then there's the asking price. What would the Packers want for Favre? It could be as high as a conditional first-round pick (depending on Favre's production). It will likely be a second-round pick, perhaps a late-rounder or player thrown in — plus a clause that keeps the Bucs from trading Favre to the Vikings, or another NFC North team, which it seems is what Favre truly wants.
That price might be too steep for the Bucs.
Does Favre have what it takes to lead the Bucs' offense? I asked one of our experts, Chris Steuber, to weigh in earlier Tuesday.
"Why not bring in another quarterback into the Buccaneers offense?" Steuber said. "That's certainly a position they need depth on. In all seriousness, at this stage in Favre's career, even though he had a very good season last year, I think he's a mediocre quarterback who draws more attention off the field than on the field.
"He's become the ultimate distraction and if I'm a team looking to contend it's an intriguing idea to bring Favre in, but you have to weigh the pros and cons. I think Favre ultimately could help the Bucs and their receiving corps, but even with the addition of Favre I don't know if that catapults Tampa Bay into the playoffs."
Perhaps this comment by Steuber is the most telling:
"If Favre were to end up in Tampa, I think they will win, at best, 8 games."
Now look at how many of the experts have picked the Bucs this year — a second-place team in the NFC South with, on average, eight wins.
If Steuber's right, is that worth the asking price if Garcia can do the same thing? I'd have to say no.
Let's say the Bucs bring in Favre anyway. What happens to their current quarterbacks? I handicapped that for Dolphinsdigest.com earlier today. Here were my thoughts:
1. Chris Simms: Seems the most expendable of the bunch, and by all accounts he's having a good camp. There's no hitch in his giddyup anymore, he's throwing the ball crisply and he took some first-team reps on Tuesday (thanks to Garcia's injury and an off-day for Griese). Thing is, Bucs really want to get something for him, trade-wise. But trading for Favre eliminates that leverage.
2. Jeff Garcia: The Bucs have the cap space to keep both Favre and Garcia, but that would seem almost superfluous. I don't think the Bucs have much interest in keeping Garcia beyond 2008, and releasing him would bring no cap penalty.
3. Brian Griese: He's had a pretty average camp. He's there for protection in case the starter gets hurt. What the Bucs like about him is that he's locked into a manageable contract through 2010, when he'll still be younger than both Favre and Garcia are now.
4. Luke McCown: The Bucs really like him, and he's listed at No. 2 right now. He probably has the most accurate downfield arm on the team. He's in the final year of his deal.
5. Josh Johnson: He's the QB of the future. He's not going anywhere.
I could see the Bucs releasing up to two quarterbacks with the acquisition of Favre. Or, perhaps, Gruden will keep them all. It's hard to say, but certainly acquiring Favre eliminates the chance of trading players like Simms or Garcia. Teams would likely wait for them to be released.
I've maintained all along that acquiring Favre is too much of a headache for any team. The Bucs have a solid group of quarterbacks and should let them play.
Whether Gruden can resist the urge to make a deal is anyone's guess. And, believe me, it will be his call.
Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of bucsblitz.com