If no QB trade, what does free agency offer?

While the Vikings appear headed toward trading for Houston Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels, the pickings in the free-agent market may have prompted them to revisit the Rosenfels trade options. Does NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell like Jeff Garcia or Chris Simms as fallback options for the Vikings?

While the Vikings reportedly look to trade for Houston Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels, the quality – or lack thereof – on the free-agent market might have been a contributing factor.

After Kurt Warner and Kerry Collins, who are each expected to re-sign with their respective teams, there aren't a lot of great options for the Vikings to pursue as competition for Tarvaris Jackson.

The most natural fit, according to common thinking, is Jeff Garcia, who has been dubbed as a West Coast offense kind of quarterback, but NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell questioned how much Garcia has left in a starting role when Viking Update asked Cosell about the quarterback options for Minnesota.

"I don't think he's an effective starter at this point in his career. I don't think he's an upgrade in any way," said Cosell, one of the more respective analysts working in the media. "The problem with Jeff Garcia is there's no coherence to his game. It's very hard to run a precision, consistent offense with Jeff Garcia as your quarterback because he breaks himself down. There's no flow or rhythm to your offense with Jeff Garcia. Now, you're in a different situation in Minnesota because ideally you're working off Adrian Peterson, but I have a hard time watching Garcia simply because he's one of those guys that extends plays when there is no reason to extend plays. He moves when there is no reason to move. He breaks down things on his own."

Garcia missed action in 2008 with ankle and calf injuries, but he did play in 12 games, starting 11 of them. Despite that much playing time, Garcia had only 12 touchdowns and six interceptions last season.

Cosell didn't think teams could rely on him to be a starter.

"Not at this point, because the problem with moving when you don't need to move (is) he creates a lot of his own big hits. The one thing you can say about Garcia is he's tough as nails and he gets up. But I still think it's very hard at this point in his career with his style of play that you can count on him as a 16-game starter. He could be a backup in the NFL, sure," Cosell said.

Another quarterback expected to hit the free-agent market and associated with the Tampa Bay Bucs is Chris Simms. Simms played the first five seasons of his career in Tampa before moving to the Tennessee Titans last season.

Despite all his time in Jon Gruden's version of the West Coast offense in Tampa Bay, Cosell doesn't see Simms as an ideal West Coast quarterback.

"I've always liked Chris Simms. I don't see him as a West Coast quarterback. I think Chris Simms is more of a – for wont of a better way of saying it – more of a Don Coryell-type offense, where you have deeper drops," Cosell said. "It's timing and rhythm, but you have deeper drops. The routes are a little more of the intermediate area, 15 to 22 yards. Simms has a bigger arm. He's a little more of a long strider on his drop. I don't think he's a quick, West Coast, get-the-ball-out-in-hurry kind of quarterback."

Cosell said he believes the Titans would like to re-sign Simms, but they also have starting QB Kerry Collins and DT Albert Haynesworth as more expensive pending free agents on their to-do list.

"(Simms) obviously got drafted by the Tampa Bay Bucs and Gruden, and runs a version of the West Coast offense, so that's the offense that he's existed in. Last year, he was obviously with Tennessee. I happen to know they like him. They want him back as their backup, but he may feel he has an opportunity to start somewhere, but I don't think he's a pure West Coast quarterback," Cosell said.

"But, see, so many teams run hybrids now. Let's say the Vikings went after him and signed him and they decided that he was going to be their starting quarterback. I think they'd tweak what they do in the pass game – or I think they should – to play to what I think his strengths are. And (Bernard) Berrian is a downfield receiver."

The pro football analyst said the Vikings are in a bit of pinch at the quarterback position because they likely don't want to just give up on Tarvaris Jackson, but his play against the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles in the final two games of the season had some concerns about his abilities resurface.

"They're in a spot because Jackson appeared to improve last year and then regressed significantly in the playoff loss to Philadelphia, when the game once again appeared too fast for him," Cosell said. "Up to that point, in that stretch when he came back and replaced (Gus) Frerotte, it appeared as if the game had slowed down and he was making improvements. But then against Philadelphia – and granted, they are a high-percentage blitz team, but that's the NFL and that's what teams are going to do against him – it just looked again like he was really hurrying himself and he wasn't seeing things clearly."

Cosell said the main thing Jackson needs to work on is his ability to diagnose quickly and adjust. The difference between Jackson and Kurt Warner, one of the best quarterbacks in the league last year, was obvious when those quarterbacks played the same team in the playoffs.

Jackson struggled in his first playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles while Warner excelled in handling defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's blitzes.

"So much of that is presnap. You look at somebody – the really good quarterbacks in this league, the Kurt Warners – guys like that are so good before the snap of the ball that they understand where the pressure is coming from and they understand then where the ball is going to go so it comes out quick," Cosell said. "You saw Tarvaris Jackson and the Eagles' blitz and then you saw Kurt Warner beat the Eagles' blitz basically before the snap of the ball because he knew where to go. He knew where the blitz was coming from based on alignment and fronts and coverages, and he knew where to go with the ball.

"So much of quartertbacking is presnap unless you are so physically talented that you can make plays just reacting, like a Roethlisberger can do that. Roethlisberger is more or a reactive quarterback. He's not as good before the snap of the ball, but he's so physically gifted that he can still be defeated mentally but then still make a positive play. Tarvaris Jackson is at the point where he's being defeated before the snap of the ball and he's unable to compensate after the snap of the ball."


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