Is Garcia the last best option?

The top-end free-agent talent at quarterback isn't inspiring, which might leave the Vikings investigating Jeff Garcia if he isn't brought back to Tampa Bay.

Over the last couple of seasons, there has been a lot of 20/20 hindsight on how different the Vikings could have been had the team signed Jeff Garcia when he became a free agent following the 2006 season. Well-versed in the West Coast Offense run by Brad Childress in Philadelphia, many felt that Garcia was an ideal veteran choice to join the Vikings. The rationale made sense – Garcia would have a shorthand experience in the terminology and scheme that Childress was bringing to the Vikings. While every variant of the WCO is different from one team to the next, having experience in the same offense that Childress ran was viewed as being a glove fit.

As we all know, the Vikings didn't go the Garcia route in the 2007 free-agent period. He signed with Tampa Bay and the Vikings went with veterans Kelly Holcomb and Brooks Bollinger as backups to anointed starter Tarvaris Jackson. Garcia is two years older but believes he still have some good football left in him. And, thanks to changes being made with the Buccaneers, he could be the odd man out in Tampa.

Last week, the Buccaneers fired head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen. Allen was replaced by Mark Dominik as the new G.M. and he has yet to commit to bringing Garcia back. Considering that a change at quarterback is on the horizon and the new administration will likely have a little bit of leeway in charting the new course of the team's future, delaying the inevitable doesn't seem like it will be in the cards.

If that is the case, Garcia will likely be allowed to leave via free agency as the franchise moves on with its new vision of the future. There hasn't been anything to suggest that the Vikings' interest in Garcia will be more this time around than it was two years ago, but with prospects like Kurt Warner and Donovan McNabb likely off the table after strong late-season runs that led both of their teams to the NFC Championship Game, Garcia has suddenly emerged as a top veteran candidate for the Vikings.

With most of the other available veteran QBs likely going to require draft picks as compensation, Garcia might be the ideal choice to be a veteran that could compete for a starting job in training camp. Many believe the Vikings would have been a playoff team in 2007 had the team signed Garcia. Perhaps the second time around, he may be their choice to compete with T-Jack for the starting job.


  • Jets owner Woody Johnson is apparently in favor of having Brett Favre return to the Jets for the 2009 season.

  • The Packers are going to need to overhaul their personnel in order to effectively incorporate the 3-4 defense being proposed by new defensive coordinator Dom Capers. The result will be the need to either sign more linebackers in free agency or use top draft picks to achieve that goal. The Vikings found themselves in a similar situation when Childress took over – incorporating both the West Coast Offense and Tampa-2 defense without having personnel that was designed specifically for those schemes. The transition for the Packers could be even more difficult, since the 3-4 defense brings its own set of challenges.

  • Word out of Chicago is that the Bears aren't expected to make any big-money free-agent moves when the shopping period begins at the end of February.

  • So much for being voted to the Pro Bowl. Two of the three AFC quarterbacks – Favre and Philip Rivers – have bowed out of the game due to injuries. Favre was replaced initially by Rivers, who was the first alternate, but with Rivers injured as well, he has been replaced by Kerry Collins.

  • The changeover in Indianapolis continues. A little more than a week after Tony Dungy announced his retirement, defensive coordinator Ron Meeks announced he was resigning Tuesday.

  • One coach not at the Senior Bowl is Herm Edwards of the Chiefs. He and most of his coaching staff aren't in Mobile, adding to speculation that he is going to be fired within the next few days. The Lions hired Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham for the same position in Detroit.

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