Most observers figure the Vikings will at least be interested in exploring the trade and free-agent possibilities at quarterback this season. The list of names has been plentiful: Kurt Warner, Matt Cassel, Kerry Collins and Jeff Garcia, among the free agents.
In free agency, one of the early names associated with the Vikings has been Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia. Two factors have made him an oft-mentioned possibility in purple – his relationship with former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden was a rocky one in the final season and Garcia has been a mainstay in West Coast offenses, including the Philadelphia Eagles' offense in 2006 from which Vikings coach Brad Childress has borrowed his main tenets, San Francisco 49ers and the Bucs. But now that Gruden is out of Tampa, the Bucs' willingness to deal Garcia may fade.
Adam Schefter of NFL Network addressed the possibility of Garcia heading north to the Norsemen during an online chat this week.
"The good thing for the Vikings is, it's an intriguing off-season for quarterbacks. Matt Cassel, Derek Anderson and Donovan McNabb could be available in trade. Kerry Collins, Kurt Warner, Jeff Garcia, Rex Grossman are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents. And Michael Vick also could be in play," Schefter wrote. "But if you're the Vikings, and you want to solidify the position, you have two primary options to me: trading for Anderson or signing Garcia. Garcia would be a short-term solution, Anderson a longer-term but pricier one. To get Anderson is going to cost at least a second-round pick, and maybe a first, and that's a steep price. Then again, Minnesota traded its 1 last year and that worked out pretty well, didn't it?"
The Vikings traded a first-round pick and two third-round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs to obtain Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen. While everyone within the organization maintains that Allen was worth the price, the Vikings are also hesitant to part with draft picks easily. Giving up multiple first-round picks in consecutive years could dilute the young talent on the team for years to come.
The Vikings' willingness, or lack thereof, to part with high-round draft picks might not be the only sticking point in a potential trade for Anderson. NFL.com analyst Pat Kirwan believes it could be tricky for the Browns to trade Anderson.
"There are some issues with his contract that make him tough to trade. I'm curious to see if (new Browns coach) Eric Mangini can get a trade done, and I'm also wondering if, when Eric evaluates these QBs, he doesn't conclude that Derek is better," Kirwan wrote in a chat this week.
Like Anderson last year, Cassel may be the hottest quarterback in the speculation market. Of course, he might also get hit with the franchise tag, which would cost the Patriots about $14.4 million this year but would also give them the ability to trade him, which would shed that salary and obtain something in return instead of simply letting him flee via free agency.
The Vikings could also look to trade for a quarterback. One quarterback speculated on immediately after the season ended was Seattle Matt Hasselbeck, but a source says his arm issues could leave the Vikings regretting that possibility (if they even considered it at any point).
Like Garcia and Hasselbeck, there is another trade possibility that Childress has even more familiarity with – Eagles QB Donovan McNabb. Although McNabb was believed to be on his way out of Philadelphia midway through the season after he was temporarily benched, he was reinserted into the lineup when backup Kevin Kolb floundered and the belief in many NFL circles is that Philadelphia wouldn't part with McNabb after he led them to the NFC Championship Game.
Schefter was asked about McNabb's job security in Philadelphia during his online chat.
"That's the question of the off-season. … This has the makings of a Brett Favre drama written on it," Schefter wrote. "McNabb will want long-term security, the Eagles will balk at giving him too much of it, and it sets up a potential showdown. Now, I remember two years ago an NFC team called the Eagles and asked what it would take to get McNabb. It was told three first-round picks. Don't think the price would be that high now, but if Philadelphia ever decided it would be willing to entertain trade offers, the Eagles start by asking for at least two first-round picks."
For the Vikings, that would mean first-rounders in the 2009 and 2010 draft, eliminating first-round picks for them in three consecutive drafts after the Allen acquisition. That's an unlikely scenario for two reasons. First, the Vikings view draft picks as their "sack of gold" among NFL currency; second, Philadelphia can ask for two first-round picks for McNabb, but that doesn't mean they'll find an NFL team willing to part with that much for a 32-year-old quarterback going into his 11th season.
It's all interesting fodder and it leaves the Vikings with many different options in a free-agent and trade markets that open in less than one month (Feb. 27).
What they're saying: QB possibilities
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