Various reports on Friday and Saturday helped to somewhat clear up a painfully murky situation.
The Packers tried and failed to lure Favre out of retirement back in March. Four months later, Favre's itch grew into a Gold Bond-immune scratch. By then, the Packers had effectively moved forward with Aaron Rodgers via installations, chemistry, leadership, etc. – to a point where a Favre return was too little, too late in Ted Thompson's view. And now Favre wants to play for a different team on his terms – a demand Thompson refuses to cave into. Favre in purple, on Monday night, the day his number was supposed to be retired? Nightmares don't dare go that far.
The most logical resolution? A trade. It appears Favre is willing to risk giving his legacy a gagging aftertaste a la Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath. Dealing a top five all-time quarterback isn't easy. There's Favre's desire – is he willing to risk walking into an absolute buzzsaw like, say, Atlanta? The fear of a 3-13 season could scare Favre back into retirement. There's his contract – Favre is scheduled to make $39 million over the next three years. There's the situation – most teams have some sort of long-term plan under center. There's the baggage – will teams be willing to accept inevitable "will he, won't he" drama and herds of media?
But when it's all said and done, this is Brett Favre. There must be a market for a quarterback fresh off a 4,155-yard, 28-touchdown season that came within one pass of a Super Bowl berth. Teams will covet someone who just finished second in the MVP voting.
Thompson's asking price is sheer speculation at this point. Favre will be 39 years old in October, and he obviously lacks any sort of mental timetable for retirement. A third- or fourth-round pick seems to be the target value thrown around most frequently.
Here's a list of potential suitors:
1. Minnesota: The Vikings are a win-now team with a win-never starting quarterback. Minnesota fans holding out hope for Tarvaris Jackson probably believe Timberwolves' Sebastian Telfair is the next big thing at point guard in the NBA. It's a notch below a pipe dream. The Vikings' defense is loaded with the addition of Jared Allen, and no NFC team can match their running game. Wide receiver Bernard Berrian and up-and-comer Sidney Rice provide hope at wide receiver. All that's missing is a quarterback to elevate a wild-card team to a Super Bowl-caliber team.
Minnesota offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell – who was Favre's QBs coach from 2003-05 – is no doubt a huge draw for Favre (you have to wonder if No. 4 has texted Bevell this past week, too). But Bevell and Brad Childress' West Coast scheme doesn't matter now that the Packers control Favre's destination. To boot, Minnesota has only about $5 million of salary cap space, which doesn't include draft pick signings.
Still, if the past week has told us anything it's to expect the unexpected. Maybe Minnesota could cut a couple high-priced veterans and make an offer Thompson cannot refuse.
2. Tampa Bay: If Jon Gruden was willing to trade for veteran quarterback Jake Plummer without any idea what Plummer's plans were, then the former Green Bay assistant surely would pursue Favre without hesitation. The Buccaneers play in a weak division, field a strong defense and have plenty of salary cap room.
Gruden has praised Favre through the years and has had success with aging quarterbacks. In Oakland, he resurrected the career of a mid-30s Rich Gannon. Last season, 38-year old Jeff Garcia led the Bucs – straight off a 4-12 season – to a division title.
Thompson certainly doesn't want to create a Super Bowl contender within his conference, but at least Tampa Bay is in a different division. From Favre's perspective, Tampa is a reasonable nine-hour trip from Kiln, Miss., and 20 hours from any snowflakes. Even during his improbable win streak in freezing weather, Favre admitted he hated playing in the cold. Family-wise, it makes sense.
Tampa Bay may be the most likely destination.
For the record, the Packers play at Tampa Bay on Sept. 28.
3. Baltimore/Miami/New York Jets: All three teams have messy quarterback situations with recent high draft picks as the centerpiece. Are they willing to halt rebuilding processes for someone a few whiskers away from 40? You'd have to think so. Each team seems logical in some sense.
The Ravens could use a short-term mentor for first-round pick Joe Flacco. And despite Cam Cameron's miserable failings as Miami's coach, there's no arguing his ability as an offensive coordinator.
In the regular season last year, nobody could match Tom Brady and New England's offense drive for drive. If Miami and New York want to realistically get into shootouts with the Patriots, Favre instantly gives their offense the firepower to at least try.
Way, way, way back nine days ago (doesn't it seem like nine months?) one report said the Packers hope Favre valued his legacy. Now that vague, open-ended statement has come full circle. Just how deep is Favre's love for the game? He obviously can play and he's healthy – two factors that kill the careers of 95 percent of Hall of Fame quarterbacks. But Saturday's reports all but confirmed Favre has little-to-no control over where he'll wind up. Just a hunch, but don't bank on Favre coiling back into retirement. He's serious about returning. After all, Favre returned to the Packers in 2006 after a grueling 4-12 clunker.
Where to? Well, this phase of the soap opera could unfold any day. In a virtual "Young and the Restless" episode, Thompson opted for the "young." Just how restless the "restless" is will be determined in the coming hours.
Tyler Dunne is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.