Scout's Notebook: QB Gus Frerotte

The team's search for a reliable, experienced backup quarterback behind the promising but erratic Tarvaris Jackson concluded with the return of 15-year veteran Gus Frerotte. Here's the book on the team's expected new No. 2 quarterback:

QB, Gus Frerotte
(6030, 233, 4.92-5.01 coming out) Tulsa

Notes:  Born Gustave Joseph "Gus" Frerotte (pronounced fur-RAHT) July 31, 1971, in Kittanning, Pennsylvania.  Attended Ford City High School in Ford City, Pennsylvania where he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball.  In football, as a senior, he led his team to a District Title.  In baseball, he was a four-year letterman.

College:  At the University of Tulsa, he finished his college career as the school's second-ranked all-time passer behind T.J. Rubley, a teammate from 1991-92.  During his career he threw for 5,480 yards and 32 touchdowns on 432-of-860 passing.  His 2,871 passing yards as a senior were the most by a Tulsa quarterback in 28 years.  As a sophomore, Frerotte also handled punting duties for the team and averaged 35.5 yards per punt.  As a redshirt freshman, he was forced into starting role for 8 games in 1990 after Rubley was injured, starting his first career game at Oklahoma.  During his time as an undergraduate, he joined the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.

Pro:  Originally a seventh-round draft choice (No. 197 overall)Gus Frerotte by the Washington Redskins in 1994, the same year the Redskins drafted quarterback Heath Shuler with the No. 3 overall pick.  However, by the next season, Frerotte was the starting quarterback due to Shuler's injuries and struggles.  He started 4-of-4 games as a rookie in 1994, completing 46-of-100 passes (46.0%) for 600 yards with 5 touchdowns, 5 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 61.2.  In 16 games in 1995, 11 as the starter, he completed 199-of-396 passes (50.3%) for 2.751 yards, 13 TDs, 13 interceptions and a rating of 70.2.  Frerotte earned Pro Bowl honors in 1996, completing 270-of-470 passes (57.4%) for 3,453 yards with 12 TDs, 11 interceptions and a 79.3 rating, but may be better remembered by an incident in which he injured himself by ramming his head into a padded cement wall in celebration following a touchdown in a game against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, spraining his neck.  In 1997, he started 13 games and completed 204-of-402 passes (50.7%) for 2,682 yards, 17 TDs, 12 interceptions and a 73.8 rating.  In 1998, he started 2-of-3 games played and threw for 283 yards, 1 TD, 3 interceptions while completing 25-of-54 passes (46.3%) and a rating of 45.5.

He signed with the Detroit Lions in 1999, where he backed up Charlie Batch.  Frerotte stepped in for the injured Batch and started for the Lions in the playoffs.  Starting 9-of-6 games played, he finished completing 175-of-288 passes (60.8%) for 2,117 yards, 9 TDs, 7 interceptions and a rating of 83.6.

After signing with the Denver Broncos in 2000, he started 6-of-10 games after Brian Griese was injured and led the Broncos to the playoffs, falling in the opening round to eventual Super Bowl Champion Ravens.  He completed 138-of-232 passes (59.5%) for 1,776 yards, 9 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and a rating of 82.1.  He returned primarily as a backup in 2001, starting 1-of-4 games with 30-of-48 passing (62.5%) with 3 TDs, no interceptions and a 101.7 rating.

He joined the Cincinnati Bengals in 2002, winning the starting job before giving way three games in to the season to Jon Kitna and under the soon to be fired Dick LeBeau.  In 3 starts (and 4 games played), he connected on 44-of-85 passing (51.8%) for 437 yards with 1 TD, 5 interceptions and a 46.1 rating.

His first stint with the Viking was in 2003 and 2004, serving as a backup to Daunte Culpepper.  In two relief starts in 2003, he performed brilliantly as he completed 38-of-65 passes (58.5%) for 690 yards with 7 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a 118.1 rating.

Given an opportunity to start once again, he signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2005.  He led the Dolphins to a 9-7 record, starting 15 games and throwing for 18 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, en route to completing 257-of-494 (52.0%) passes for 2,996 yards and a rating of 71.9.

Frerotte followed his offensive coordinator from Minnesota and Miami, Scott Linehan, to the St. Louis Rams, where he served as the backup to Marc Bulger the past two seasons (2006-07).  In 3 starts last year, he completed 94-of-167 passes (56.3%) for 1,104 yards with 7 TDs, 12 interceptions and a rating of 58.3.

Frerotte was released by the Rams as new offensive coordinator Al Saunders preferred veteran Trent Green as his backup due to his familiarity with his system.  He formally signed a multi-year contract with the Vikings on April 8, 2008.

Positives:  Frerotte has always been a very effective relief pitcher if you will, coming off the bench or even starting for short periods of time.  He's been extremely effective in the rare circumstances when he's had a solid supporting cast.  He remains a good pure passer with the ability to throw all the passes.  He has nice size and stature and has always had a very strong arm.  Fluid mechanics and delivery.  Hangs tough against the rush.  Effective leader who will know the offense and lead the team if needed.  He is a smart, adaptable quarterback who learns quickly and possesses a very adept understanding of the offense, whatever it has been.  He has proven to be a very good mentor, as well, evidenced by the career seasons both Culpepper (2004) and Bulger (2006) had with Frerotte as their backup.  He's a positive team chemistry guy in that No. 2 role.

Negatives:  He has never had exceptional sustained success as a starter over a long period of time.  He is not a pure West Coast Offense-type quarterback in terms of athleticism and mobility.  Like just about any quarterback, he will force the ball into coverage under pressure and makes some ill-advised throws; impatient at times.  Has been hot-and-cold much of his career.

Summary:  Despite speculation about others, Frerotte was always a prime candidate for the No. 2 spot in Minnesota from the moment he was released by the Rams.  He's a very nice fit for the situation with the Vikings.

Interestingly, Frerotte was the 6th of 9 quarterbacks drafted in 1994, behind Heath Shuler (No. 3 overall), Trent Dilfer (No. 6), Perry Klein (No. 111), Doug Nussmeier (No. 116), Jim Miller (No. 178) and ahead of only Jay Walker (No. 198), Steve Matthews (No. 199) and Glenn Foley (No. 208).  All the rest are now out of football.

What they said:

"The thing is if you watch tape of Gus in St. Louis, you can still see that he can still fling the football and make all the spot throws.  I talked to Scott Linehan about why he was cut by the Rams, and he told me that [offensive coordinator] Al Saunders wanted Trent Green as a backup because he knew his system, but Scott thought Gus can still play.  You can see that he can by watching the film."  - head coach Brad Childress

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