It's becoming more apparent that player value is dependent who wants what, and how badly they want it. That's NFL supply and demand, isn't it?
One of the biggest trades last year involved the Vikings sending a first- and two third-round draft picks to the Kansas City Chiefs for disgruntled defensive end Jared Allen. Allen wanted out of Kansas City because he believed that then-Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson had disrespected him by calling him a player at risk.
Kansas City gave into Allen's desires and the Vikings were the ones taking the risk in the eyes of many, but that group didn't include the decision-makers with the team. They had researched his character thoroughly and decided he had put his troubles with alcohol in the past. Allen provided some much-needed emotion into the locker room and light-heartedness into practices. The team gave him with a six-year deal with $31 million guaranteed.
With that trade, Kansas City got more draft picks; the Vikings got more aggressive with their pass rush.
Now the Vikings are one of several teams being thrown into the mix for another disgruntled player in the AFC West. This time it is Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler.
And the price of poker seems to be going up.
According to an article in the Denver Post, one NFL executive believes that Cutler could fetch two first-round picks, one in each of the next two drafts, and another report in that paper said that "more than 10 teams" have expressed an interest in Cutler. Meanwhile, the Broncos are still hoping to patch over the differences between Cutler and new head coach Josh McDaniels. If they don't, trade talks could heat up this weekend when the NFL owners meetings commence in California.
Determining a realistic price for Cutler could be difficult. Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel were obtained for only a second-round pick this year. Cowboys receiver Roy Williams cost a first- and a third-round pick last year. Those seem like wildly different prices to pay for different trades.
The Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets appear to be frontrunners for Cutler. Frankly, that might be a good thing for the Vikings.
As much as the Vikings could use a franchise quarterback – make no mistake, Cutler would be upgrade – are they really going to be willing to trade for Cutler a year after surrendering three of their top four draft picks for Allen? Probably not, and you don't have to look any further than the team's vice president of player personnel, Rick Spielman, to hear why.
"You can't do that every year because if you continue to give away draft picks, you're going to weaken your team for future years," Spielman said, and the Vikings are already missing picks in the fourth and sixth rounds with an extra pick in the seventh. "… I think we're at the point with our roster right now where we have our core team locked in. There's all the guys that are in the prime of their career are pretty much under contract for the next four or five years. Now if you can focus on getting younger on the back end and continue to bring guys up through, when those guys hit that age where their skills start to go down you have guys in training right behind them that can step in and step in their place."
As the Vikings take into consideration the personalities on their team and their locker room, Cutler might bring a fire to get after players. He might also turn the locker room and a relationship with the head coach into a disaster. It appears that Cutler and his agent, Bus Cook, are digging their collective heels in the sand to get traded from Denver and that has to be a consideration for any team looking to acquire him.
Anyone else wonder how that type of attitude might play with Brad Childress? Newspaper columnists might be able to turn around their economic death spin with tales of showdowns fit for an old-time western.
Cutler has refused to report for the voluntary workouts in Denver. Matt Birk took a similar stance last year, although he said that was more for family reasons than the perceived "differences of opinion" between him and Childress. Antoine Winfield also skipped voluntary workouts the previous year.
Both of those players are considered level-headed leaders on offense and defense. Birk is now gone to Baltimore after uprooting his family from his hometown. Winfield is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2009 season with no contract extension in site.
So with Cutler and his agent trying to control how Denver does its business, would that strong-arm approach really work in Minnesota?
Another thing to ponder: The Vikings actually had the chance to trade for Cutler in 2006. That was the first year that Childress was head coach in Minnesota.
The Vikings were drafting 17th and ended up selecting LB Chad Greenway after Denver traded their first- and third-round picks to move up four spots to the 11th overall pick to select Cutler. In order to make that move, the Broncos had to give up about 200 points in the draft value chart, which is equal to the mid third-round pick they surrendered.
At No. 17, the Vikings would have been required to give up 300 points in value to move up to No. 11. That equates to a low second-round pick. With the final pick in the second round that year – a move up that required two third-round picks – the Vikings drafted Tarvaris Jackson. He was the third of three second-round picks.
Now that Cutler has become a Pro Bowl quarterback, it will take two first-round picks, according to the NFL executive that the Denver Post cited. At least one stock has gone up in the last three years, but it might not be a stock worth buying for Zygi Wilf and his investors.
Commentary: Is Cutler worth it?
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