QB Jackson uncertain of future as free agent

As the Vikings search for new coaches in certain areas, Tarvaris Jackson's tenure with the team could be over. Last year, he wanted to be an unrestricted free agent. This year, labor unrest or not, he's likely to get that wish. He talked about his past and his future after his fifth Vikings season came to an end.

Tarvaris Jackson was once viewed as the quarterback of the future for the Minnesota Vikings. As he approaches the 2011 offseason without a contract extending into the future, he isn't sure what the future holds.

"I have no idea. … I haven't really thought about it, for real. I have no idea, man," Jackson said. "I don't want to say yes or no (I'll be back), but we all know how the league is. We know what the chances (are) of me being back here."

Without Brad Childress, the man that drafted Jackson in 2006 with the idea that he would be the Vikings' eventual version of Donovan McNabb, Jackson's future with the team looks doubtful. He was a restricted free agent last year and the Vikings tendered him at a third-round level in order to keep him, but Childress wasn't willing to put his full confidence behind Jackson. Instead, the Vikings had a couple of contingency plans. One of those was the confidence that Brett Favre would return for a 20th NFL season and the other was that Sage Rosenfels could also provide a veteran presence on the field if needed.

Heading into the 2011 offseason, Favre is expected to retire and new head coach Leslie Frazier has no interest in pursuing him like Childress did in 2010. Rosenfels was traded to the New York Giants before the 2010 season began. And after getting one last chance to start on Dec. 13, Jackson suffered turf toe and ligament damage in his foot that forced him onto season-ending injured reserve days later and had him in a walking boot as the calendar turned to January.

"I don't even know how to feel. Usually I'm always on the other side looking at guys like, ‘Dang, I might not even see this guy next year.' Now I'm that guy that's probably going to be gone," he said. "It's a little different, but it's part of the game. I'm not upset or disappointed with the situation. I was kind of disappointed last year that I didn't have a chance to be unrestricted, but I am (this year) so I guess we'll just see what happens."

Jackson had several opportunities to prove himself with the Vikings, but he was never able to stay on the field long enough to show enough real-game development. After five seasons, he made 20 starts, completed 58.7 percent of his passes for 3,984 yards, 24 touchdowns and 22 interceptions and a passer rating of 76.6.

With those statistics and his rocky NFL career to this point, Jackson doesn't know what to expect … or if he even wants to return to the Vikings.

"It's hard to say. The grass isn't always greener on the other side, but it wasn't pretty green on this side either. I guess we'll see," he said. "With the guys we have on our offense, I'd love to come play with these guys, but we already know how it is. A fresh start might be good. Who knows? I'm just looking forward to my career in the future. I feel like I've gotten a lot better these last couple of years. The past two years – I'm not going to say wasted two years of my career – I've learned a lot in these past two years. But as far as playing, I didn't play so it's kind of disappointing to get hurt, but it is what it is. I'm just going to move forward."

Success didn't always follow him on the field, but Jackson was always professional in the way he handled the team's two-year saga with Favre. Although it was clear Jackson grew frustrated by the Favre odyssey, he never created waves and tried to remain as upbeat as possible.

"I had some great times here. I had fun here. I got some good teammates and some guys I'll probably be in touch with. Some guys you won't," he said. "Hopefully I'll look back and just think of the good times, the times I had with my teammates. We won a lot of football games here. It was fun. It was my first experience in the NFL, came here as a rookie and now I feel like an old man. When I first came in I was a young guy and now I feel kind of old, 27 years old. That ain't too old is it?"

It's not too old to keep playing, but it's probably too old to be considered a starter right now given his inability to grab hold of the starting job when given opportunities in his first three seasons, when he made 19 of his 20 career starts.

Injuries continued to plague his career, and he received both cheers and jeers at the Metrodome. He didn't want to comment directly on whether or not he felt appreciated, but he is conflicted on a number of fronts.

"I have mixed feelings about a lot of stuff, but I'm not bitter or anything. I understand it's how stuff happens. I understand for everybody in this league it's not going to happen the way you want it to happen all the time," he said. "They took a chance on me in the second round and I appreciate that."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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