Should Daunte Be Dismissed?

The Trent Green saga keeps dragging on and on and on, but we're certainly not at the point where it's starting to look like it might not happen. The forgotten man in all this, of course, is Daunte Culpepper, who is considered as good as gone once the Green trade finally is consummated. But should the Dolphins be so quick to dump Culpepper rather than see if he indeed can resurrect his career?

That's an important question because there's no question that Culpepper has some major upside if he's right. And it certainly would be a shame to see Culpepper rediscover his Pro Bowl form in another uniform.

Actually, that would be the final insult to what has so far proven to be a disastrous trade with Minnesota.

Look, at the time it appeared to be a good deal, a No. 2 pick for a quarterback who went to three Pro Bowls. Sure, Culpepper was damaged goods at the time, but surely he would get back to 100 percent at some point.

Of course, we don't need to go over the handling of Culpepper last season when he was rushed onto the field clearly before he was ready.

That was one of many mistakes Nick Saban made during his tenure in Miami, but the less we talk about him, the better.

Culpepper didn't speak to the media very often last season, but he talked about both of the OCS (Offseason Coaching Sessions) workouts that were open to the media.

Now, understand that Culpepper also acts as his own agent, so it was in his best interest to put out the word that he's making great progress from his latest surgery and feels he'll soon be back at 100 percent.

In fact, Culpepper suggested he would be ready to do all the work at the next minicamp, which is scheduled for the weekend of June 8-10.

On the flip side, Coach Cam Cameron said last week he didn't have to make a determination on Culpepper before he saw him at 100 percent, but added at the end of the sentence the word "necessarily."

With all the talk about the Green trade -- did we mention it keeps dragging on? -- it seems pretty obvious Cameron and the Dolphins already have made up their minds about Culpepper, and it's not positive.

When he talked about quarterbacking earlier in the offseason, Cameron emphasized leadership and intangibles above great physical skills. Fair or not, Green would seem to have the edge over Culpepper in that respect.

Remember, Cameron had success as San Diego's offensive coordinator with Drew Brees and Philip Rivers as his quarterbacks, and those guys resemble Green a whole lot more than they do Culpepper.

But it's not like Culpepper is a dud at quarterback. The guy has some ability.

The other issue at play here is that the Dolphins, barring a catastrophe, need a starting quarterback for only one year because John Beck will be the starter in 2008 and hopefully for many years after that.

So for only 2007, who's the better option: Culpepper or Green? The Dolphins obviously think it's Green, otherwise they wouldn't be willing to give up a draft pick -- even though it will be a second-day pick -- and would just go with Culpepper.

But Culpepper remains a question mark physically because no matter what he does in minicamp or training camp, we won't know for sure about his health until the regular season. If you don't believe us, just think back to last year when everything seemed fine until the Dolphins faced the Steelers in the opener and it became painfully apparent that Culpepper wasn't ready to play.

This uncertainty also may factor into the Dolphins' thinking that Culpepper isn't the way to go. It also would seem that having Green start in 2007 would make for a much easier transition to Beck next year because Green is nearing the end of his career and is much more likely to be willing a demotion at that point than Culpepper.

The Dolphins also would save some cap money -- albeit not a ton -- by getting rid of Culpepper. In case you're wondering about trading Culpepper, if the Dolphins had a shot to do that, they already would have done so. No, the health issue and a hefty salary made Culpepper untradable.

So we go back to the original question: Should the Dolphins be so quick to dismiss Culpepper? Based on the long-range plan of having Beck as the starter, it would appear that Green indeed makes more sense in the short term because he's a better fit for Cameron's offense and because of the health issue.

But if/when the Dolphins make that move, it will come with a risk, that being Culpepper going on and again becoming a Pro Bowl quarterback. It's also possible that Culpepper never will regain that form, in which case the Dolphins would have made a stellar move.

Either way, we just like that the Dolphins seem to have a clear game plan at quarterback. And we're not sure we could have said the last ... oh, six or seven years.


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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. To read him every day, visit DolphinDigest.com and become a Miami Dolphins insider.