Culpepper looking to return

Former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper is ready to "unretire," he told multiple media outlets. So where might he end up? We take a look at the possibilities.

The Kansas City Chiefs decided earlier this week that they were going to sign veteran Quinn Gray to replace oft-injured Brodie Croyle on the 53-man roster. Prior to the announcement, there had been speculation that Daunte Culpepper was being considered, although the decision to bring in Gray was made quickly.

In the aftermath, Culpepper said Wednesday that he is looking to get back into the league. That should be caveated by the implication that he wants to return as a starter. While that likely won't be in the cards, you have to ask yourself how many teams could use a player of Culpepper's talent. Looking around the league, there is clearly a need demonstrated for having a veteran backup with starting experience. Consider the following:

NFC East – Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger are the backups in Dallas. Second-year man Kasey Kevin Kolb is the second-line of offense for the Eagles. Discarded veteran David Carr backs up Eli Manning. Pepp is likely better than all of them.

NFC North – As long as Brad Childress is the coach of the Vikings, they're out of the equation, but the Lions currently have a trio of Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton and multiple former-time Viking Drew Henson while the Packers have a pair of rookies backing up Aaron Rodgers. It's hard to believe Culpepper isn't better than that lot.

NFC South – The teams of the South aren't in horrible shape, with former starters deep on the depth chart, including Chris Redman in Atlanta, Mark Brunell and Joey Harrington in New Orleans, Brian Griese in Tampa Bay and Josh McCown in Carolina. Probably no luck there.

NFC West – The Cardinals are out of play, but that same isn't true for Seattle, where Seneca Wallace has never looked like a starter, or San Francisco, where Alex Smith is likely on the way out, and St. Louis, where Trent Green is one concussion away from retirement. Culpepper would seem to be an upgrade there.

AFC East – No luck here. Matt Cassel is entrenched as the non-Tom Brady alternative in New England, Kellen Clemens is waiting his turn behind Brett Favre in New York and J.P. Losman is a young, highly drafted backup in Buffalo. The only possibility is Miami, but Pepp may have burned bridges with that organization.

AFC North – The Steelers already said "no thanks" in a competition between Culpepper and Byron Leftwich. The Browns have invested too much money in Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn to take on another player wanting compensation. The Ravens are determined to move ahead with Joe Flacco, but former Viking Todd Bouman is No. 2 on the depth chart now. Cincinnati is starting something called Ryan Fitzpatrick. It would seem Pepp would be an upgrade with either of those two teams.

AFC South – Indy is out because Peyton Manning never seems to miss games and Jim Sorgi has been around a long time waiting his turn. The Titans seem satisfied with Kerry Collins as Vince Young's backup. Houston refused to trade Sage Rosenfels last year because they value his ability as a backup, so the Texans are likely out of consideration. The Jags only have two QBs, so an injury to David Garrard could be a probable landing spot for the Florida native behind Cleo Lemon.

AFC West – This could be a dead zone for Culpepper. Denver likes Patrick Ramsey as Jay Cutler's caddy, so the Broncos are probably out. Despite a need, there seems no chance he would go to the Raiders after having a recent stint there. The Chiefs have a screaming need, but didn't seriously consider Culpepper with their recent signing of Gray. The Chargers don't have a need with veteran Billy Volek as a backup.

When Culpepper resigned after failing to secure a deal during the preseason, many were stunned that nobody had an interest. Some blamed his bull-headed approach to being his own agent as one of the reasons. Others say that his skills have diminished. But in an era where the quarterbacking seems as weak as ever and more than half of the teams in the league would appear to have backups with less talent than Culpepper, it's hard to believe he hasn't found work.

As the attrition of quarterbacks continues at an alarming pace, he may get his chance. But after looking at what teams are currently facing if a Pro Bowl type like Brady or Tony Romo goes down, it's hard to imagine that, if Culpepper truly wants to commit to resurrecting his NFL career, he won't end up back in the NFL at some point this season. It could be soon.


  • The Vikings re-signed LB Rufus Alexander to their practice squad on Thursday.

  • Viking Update Top Stories