Losman: Salary Makes Sense, Does Performance?

Of the quarterbacks rumored to be on the trading block during the 2008 offseason, J.P. Losman has a contract that wouldn't seem to be too tough to absorb. But is he a quarterback worth giving up much for in a trade? We examine his career and his contract situation.

If the Vikings are looking for a starter to supplant Tarvaris Jackson, a trade for J.P. Losman with the Buffalo Bills may not be the answer. But because Losman has been a starter in the league before and has been rumored to be on the trading block, his situation may be worth the Minnesota Vikings examining.

Losman's agent furthered the possibility of him being traded when Gary Wichard told the Associated Press on Jan. 4 that Losman would prefer to be traded after losing his starting job to rookie third-round draft pick Trent Edwards in 2007.

If Losman isn't traded, Wichard said the 2004 first-round pick would ride out of the 2008 season and move on after the expiration of his contract.

"That ship has sailed, my friend," Wichard said. "Hopefully, they do something this year. And if not, we'll just walk away after next year."

Losman entered the season as a starter, but in Week 3 he sprained his knee on the first series and the Bills turned to Edwards to lead the team. When Edwards suffered a hand injury five weeks later, the Bills went back to Losman, who had a 2-2 record in his next starts before the Bills went back to Edwards, who was 2-3 to finish the season.

Wichard told the Associated Press it was disappointing particularly after Losman showed promise in leading the team to a 7-9 finish in 16 starts in 2006. In 2007, Losman had a 76.9 passer rating compared to Edwards' 70.4. Losman had four touchdowns and six interceptions while Edwards had seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Losman's best season was in 2006, when he completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 3,051 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for an 84.9 passer rating. For his career, he has completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 31 touchdowns, 29 interceptions and a 77.3 rating.

Despite the acrimony, the Bills might not be willing to part with Losman easily. Bills owner Ralph Wilson told the Associated Press that the team might be better off with two experienced quarterbacks, and the team paid a steep price to draft Losman in 2004. They surrendered three draft picks, including a 2005 first-rounder to move back into the first round and selected him 22nd overall.

In financial terms, however, Losman might be one of the best options available in the trade market. While players like Derek Anderson, Chad Pennington and Donovan McNabb would cost players and/or draft picks and about $4.8 million to $6.3 million in base salary, Losman has a far more palatable deal.

He had a $4.17 million option bonus in 2005 that was spread over the remaining four years on his contract, and has an extremely affordable $650,000 base salary in 2008. It's uncertain how a $5 million escalator would affect any team that would trade for him.

But the real question for the Vikings is this: Do they really want to trade away veteran players and/or draft picks to obtain a former first-round quarterback that had only a 76.9 passer rating in 2007 while they have a developing third-year player that posted a 70.8 rating?

It's not an easy question to answer, but with Vikings coach Brad Childress not completely committing to Tarvaris Jackson as his starter in 2008 at the end of the 2007 season, Losman may be one of the quarterbacks the Vikings look at as a possibility, whether it is as a definitive starter or simply more competition for Jackson.

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