The Vikings quarterback is trying to come back from tearing three ligaments – the anterior cruciate, medial collateral and posterior cruciate – in his right knee on Oct. 30. His health is obviously a big concern, but there is more to it. Culpepper fired his agent, Mason Ashe, on Tuesday and the quarterback indicated that he is considering representing himself.
In actuality, he might have to represent himself if the agents Scout.com spoke with are any indication. Both agents said they'd be hesitant to take on Culpepper as a client for two reasons. The first is his health – they aren't convinced that his return is a certainty. The second reason is his contract.
Culpepper's contract was restructured last summer to give him more guaranteed money last year and this March. Since Ashe negotiated that deal, he receivers his cut from it, and since Culpepper is technically signed through 2013, it is unlikely that a new agent would see any dividends until a new deal is signed, which could be many years down the road.
The interesting part of the equation is the trade rumors that have swirled around Culpepper in the last few weeks, especially when looked at from the context of his contract. His base salary for 2005 was $540,000. It is $2 million in 2006, which doesn't include a $6 million roster bonus due March 14. However, the guaranteed base on his salary increases dramatically in 2007, when he due $5.5 million. It continues to increase to $6 million in 2008 and 2009, then $7 million in 2010, $8 million in 2011 and 2012, and finally $10 million in 2013.
In the context of a franchise quarterback in the ever-increasing world of the NFL salary cap, $10 million in 2013 will probably be a bargain. But with his current injury, no one knows whether Culpepper can return to his 2004 form, when he was actually putting up statistics like a franchise quarterback.
Ben Dogra, the agent for Vikings linebacker Keith Newman, said he would like to start negotiations for his client soon and has called the organization to start on the parameters of a contract. However, with the team concentrating on signing Fran Foley, who they hope will be their new personnel director, Dogra hadn't heard back from the Vikings as of midday Wednesday.
Newman, who took over Napoleon Harris' starting spot after four games before suffering a season-ending knee injury with three games to play, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on March 3.
Over 10 NFL agents that Scout.com has talked to this week in Mobile have said they're confident that the NFL and the NFLPA will reach a new collective bargaining agreement before the current deal expires. In fact, most have said that there is way too much to lose and really nothing to gain. Teams can only spread out new contracts for four seasons because of the uncapped season, which is 2007 unless a deal gets done.
FROM TFY DRAFT PREVIEW
- We spoke with one front office official from the San Diego Chargers about Drew Brees' injury status. The response we received in asking if Brees will be back in time for next season from his labrum injury was not favorable.
-Scouts in attendance have concerns about quarterback Jay Cutler. While he physically has the makings of an NFL passer, the mental make-up is a little different. Several people we spoke with say Cutler can be surly at times. That is not the type of person teams are willing to invest a fortune in as the future leader of their franchise.
- The Denver Broncos have an important decision to make by March 1. That is whether to pick up the $1.5 million option on tight end Jeb Putzier's contract or let him become an unrestricted free agent. The team is trying to develop first-year tight end Wesley Duke, who they are sending to NFL Europe. They also have veteran tight end Stephen Alexander, who is under contract through 2007. According to a league source, it's possible that Putzier ends up with San Francisco if Denver doesn't pick up the option. Oft-injured TE Eric Johnson's contract is up after 2006.
- Colts' oft-injured linebacker Rocky Calmus, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, could still be re-signed by the team. Calmus, a former third-round pick, can play inside or on the weak side and would be a valuable backup at either position. His agent, Mark Slough, was looking to talk to team president Bill Polian here this week.
- According to a league source, former Saints offensive line coach Jack Henry is considered to be a top candidate to handle the same role with either the Rams or Chargers.