Raiders free agency outlook: Daunte Culpepper

JaMarcus Russell has clearly moved into the first-string quarterback position with the Oakland Raiders, but the Silver and Black will need an insurance policy and mentor. Is Daunte Culpepper that man?

Daunte Culpepper

2007: Up-and-down performances and injuries have kept him from being a big factor. The Raiders were only 2-4 in his six starts, though he was just starting to look comfortable when his quad injury sidelined him.

Grade: C-

Market interest level: Lukewarm

Raiders interest level: Zero

There will be some team -- Atlanta or Kansas City, perhaps -- that will give Culpepper a look, even after the season he had in 2007.

With the exception of one game (5 TDs vs. Miami in Week 4), Culpepper was off more than he was on and showed few signs of the player who once reigned as one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks.

Knee injuries have robbed Culpepper of most of his speed, and plays he once saved by buying extra time with his feet are the ones now outside his reach. Several times he forced passes while scrambling away from a sack; other times he took the sack and/or coughed the ball up.

If there's one moment that will hurt Culpepper more than any other play he made in a game, though, it would be his foolish decision to race some teammates in a sprint after practice late in the season.

Whether you believe Culpepper was injured during the race, which has been widely reported, though denied by the veteran quarterback himself, or you believe that he aggravated an injury first suffered during a game is a moot point.

Culpepper still believes he can be a starter in the NFL -- which, given the mediocre overall state of quarterbacks in the league, he's probably correct in his assumption -- but the Raiders already have their starter in JaMarcus Russell.

Even if he relented to taking a back-up job, Oakland coach Lane Kiffin might have more interest in re-signing Josh McCown to fill that role.


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