Personnel analysis: Rosenfels' upside

Today's snapshot analysis of the Vikings' potential at the all-important quarterback position. How good could Rosenfels be in Minnesota, and what would it take to get Jay Cutler, if he were even truly available?

How good could Rosenfels be with Vikings?

Nobody seems incredibly excited about the Vikings' addition of Sage Rosenfels into the mix at quarterback, and for legitimate reason.

Even head coach Brad Childress was tempered in his characterization of the acquisition:  “You're always trying to get yourself better,” Childress said.  “So I felt this would make us a little bit better, in terms of competition.”

So the Vikings aren’t exactly suggesting that Rosenfels is the “answer” at quarterback.  He’s no Jay Cutler.  But he’s no Brad Johnson or Brooks Bollinger, either.

While the odds of Minnesota truly hitting the jackpot with Rosenfels are probably less than 50-50, there is precedence for a quarterback with so-so credentials suddenly elevating his stock once given a legitimate opportunity.

For Rosenfels, this is the best legitimate opportunity he’s ever had in eight NFL seasons to actually start on a potential winning team.

“Over eight years, I've really worked my tail off to get to this point, to get this opportunity,” Rosenfels said when he was introduced to the Minnesota media.  “I'm hoping to make the most of it.”

Rosenfels acknowledges he pressed at times last season playing for the 8-8 Houston Texans.  “I probably forced the ball a few too many times,” he said.  “I didn't have a top-five or whatever our defense was, the Vikings defense, was last year, and I think Matt (Schaub) and I both probably got too aggressive last year.”

“The Minnesota Vikings are a very, very good football team,” Rosenfels said.  “Having No. 28 behind there, that's a quarterback's dream.”

Lots of quarterbacks still don’t flourish in these circumstances, but Rosenfels wouldn’t be the first.

Three examples of journeyman quarterbacks who excelled last season who at one point easily as lowly regarded as Rosenfels:  Kurt Warner, Tony Romo and Matt Cassell.

Warner completed 67.1% of his passes for 4,583 yards with a 30-14 TD-INT ratio and QB passer rating of 96.9 last season for the 9-7 Arizona Cardinals en route to the NFC Championship.

Warner entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Green Bay Packers in 1994.  They cut him.  He didn’t get his first opportunity to start until 1999 with the St. Louis Rams, surrounded by enough personnel to go to the Super Bowl.

Romo in 2008:  61.3%, for 3,448 yards, a 26-14 TD-INT ratio and a QB rating of 91.4.  An undrafted free agent in 2003, he spent three full seasons on the bench before even getting an opportunity on a pretty talented Dallas Cowboys team in 2006.

Cassell in 2008:  63.4%, for 3,693 yards, a 21-11 TD-INT ratio and QB rating of 89.4.  A seventh-round pick by the New England Patriots in 2005, he did not get his first significant playing time with a first-team offense until this past season.  In one season with a good supporting cast, he’s suddenly a franchise quarterback.

Rosenfels may never rise to those levels, even with a better supporting cast, but it won’t be from a lack of effort or basic ability.  He has those qualities.  So who’s to say he can’t be the next Kurt Warner?  This could be his chance.

 

What would it take to get Cutler?

Any further speculation on the subject could be a moot point, depending on how an upcoming meeting between Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler and new head coach Josh McDaniels goes in Denver.  But if it goes the Daunte Culpepper-Brad Childress route, the Vikings could be poised to step up and make a strong move for the 25-year-old Cutler.

What would it take?  The most difficult-to-fathom aspect of this from Denver’s point of view would be what are they going to do for a quarterback?  Without Cutler, Darrell Hackney is next on their depth chart.

“They would have to have a top, young QB,” according to Scout.com’s Adam Caplan.  And the Vikings don’t have one, or a high enough pick (top 10) to offer.

The Vikings would have to include either recently acquired Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson; Rosenfels being the more desirable to Denver.  He’s more consistent and is locked up contract-wise at basically a quality backup’s salary.  But he’d just be a throw-in for Denver.

Minnesota’s top pick at No. 22 would have to be included, as well.  An additional pick or picks may also be required.

Two players that would make sense for Denver would be running back Chester Taylor and defensive end Brian Robison.  Taylor would likely regain the majority of the reps in Denver.  Robison, if you’ll recall, was requested by Kansas City last year as part of the Jared Allen deal.  The Vikings are not looking to deal Robison, but to get someone of Cutler’s caliber, they would likely have to give the Broncos something of immediate value in return.

Again, this could all fizzle into nothing once Cutler and McDaniels meet.  But if there is another window of opportunity, don’t be surprised if the Vikings pounce.

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