My Way: By Daunte

A lot has been made over the last few days about the Daunte Culpepper soap opera that has been taking place in south Florida. On Friday, Culpepper was escorted away from the Dolphins facilities despite still technically being on their roster, under contract. Both sides have a different view in regards to what should happen next...

The Dolphins are actively pursuing a trade for the veteran quarterback, but Daunte would prefer to be released and go to a team of his preference.

In this particular situation, both sides believe they are right, and both sides have valid arguments. Regarding the Dolphins situation, they have Culpepper under contract and they don't want to risk a possible injury at practice, which would leave the team responsible for Culpepper's salary of approximately $5.5 million. They gave up a second round pick just a little over a year ago for the rights to Culpepper, and they would like to recoup as much value as possible for him. The Dolphins paid Culpepper nearly $8 million in terms of bonus money and salary to play just four games for the team in 2006.

Through Daunte Culpepper's eyes, the Dolphins "rushed him back" too soon after his knee injury during the 2005 season, and now they want to run him out of town. I don't know how much of the first part is true, but it is certainly evident that the Dolphins want Culpepper to leave the greater Miami area. Daunte figures that he should be able to play for a team that "values his services" for the 2007 season and beyond.

So who is right, who is wrong, who has the upper hand? I believe that both sides are right to a certain extent, and neither side is wrong. The real issue is who has the upper hand. Daunte Culpepper is one of the very few professional athletes who doesn't have an agent. In the business of law, it is said that a person who defends his or herself has a fool for a client. The same may be said of professional athletes, but Culpepper does save approximately four percent (normal agent fees). Regardless of Culpepper's lack of representation, he holds all the cards. No NFL team in their right mind will trade for Culpepper without restructuring his contract. Culpepper has already went on record stating that he won't restructure for a trade. What is Miami to do now? If they keep trying to find a team crazy enough to take on his salary and don't succeed, the Dolphins would have to pay him his salary, which can't happen. If Daunte continues to play hardball with the Fish, they will have no choice but to give him his release.

So how does this affect the Jaguars? There have been some reports of trade talks regarding Culpepper between the Jaguars and Dolphins. There have also been some reports of Daunte Culpepper not wanting to become a Jaguar. The reason for Culpepper's alleged lack of interest in making the move up I-95 north is that he wants to be a starting quarterback this season, and Byron Leftwich has already been named the Jaguars starter. Last week I wrote that I thought it would be a good idea for the Jaguars to acquire Culpepper, as long as his contract numbers were moderate. I haven't changed my stance on the subject. Culpepper would likely still represent a major upgrade at the backup quarterback position, and with Leftwich's recent injury history and contract status, the team needs some kind of insurance at the position.

I don't see a lot of possible destinations in which Culpepper would be named an immediate starter, or even be able to compete for a starting job for longer than a year or so. Detroit may be a possible destination, or even Oakland. Sure, those are two destinations where it will be likely for Daunte to get some immediate playing time, but those teams also picked #1 and #2 in the draft, and have been perennial losers for at least the last four years. If Culpepper comes to Jacksonville, he'll be surrounded with talent on both sides of the ball, and he would have an opportunity to fight for the starting job in '08, as Byron Leftwich becomes a free agent. I guess the question for Daunte is, how good do you think you are? Good enough to beat out Leftwich? Time will tell.

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