Trade Talks Heating Up?

The Vikings are rumored to be in talks with at least two teams regarding the possibility of trading Daunte Culpepper.

The odds of the Vikings potentially dealing quarterback Daunte Culpepper appear to be rising.

Culpepper has been the subject of trade rumors since last month, when he began stumping for more guaranteed money in his contract despite three torn ligaments that are causing an uncertain return to full strength and coming off a season in which he threw 12 interceptions and six touchdowns before his season-ending injury on Oct. 30, 2005.

He does hold some value, however, as a three-time Pro Bowl player who threw for 4,717 yards, 39 TDs and 11 interceptions in 2004.

Culpepper's discontent with his contract appears to be pushing the Vikings more strongly into the trade realm, as two reports Monday night place the Vikings in trade talks.

The Miami Herald reported that the Dolphins have talked with the Vikings about trading with Culpepper in the last week. Parameters of the talks aren't known, but the Vikings are thought to be pursuing more than a second-round pick for Culpepper. The Dolphins also are considering Tennessee's Steve McNair and Washington's Patrick Ramsey, according to the Herald, along with several draft prospects.

The other suitor reportedly interested in Culpepper is the Baltimore Ravens. Ravens coach Brian Billick was the Vikings offensive coordinator in 1998 before taking the head coaching job in Baltimore.

The Ravens are considering placing the franchise tag on running back Jamal Lewis. One rumor circulating earlier this month is that the Ravens would then be interested in trading Lewis for Culpepper, but Lewis' style doesn't appear to be the best fit with the Vikings' new West Coast offense.

Culpepper is due a roster bonus of $6 million in mid-March, about two weeks after free agency starts. He is scheduled to make $2 million in base salary this year, which escalates to $5.5 million in 2007 and $6 million in 2008 and 2009.

Vikings coach Brad Childress said last month that there were indications Culpepper might be able to perform some limited footwork in minicamps, but tearing three ligaments generally carries with it a recovery period of 12 to 18 months.

Whether Culpepper remains with the Vikings or not in 2006, it appears likely that Brad Johnson will at least open the season as the starter because of Culpepper's injury. Johnson is also expected to have a better grasp of Childress' West Coast offense, as Johnson ran a similar offense during his time in Tampa Bay, when he won Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 season.

Listen to Childress talk about the expectations of Daunte Culpepper:


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