Bouman's Future Still Uncertain

Quarterback Todd Bouman said during the season that he'd like an opportunity to start in the NFL. Is that still the case since the season ended with him only getting limited exposure?

Like most backup quarterbacks, the Vikings' Todd Bouman would like the chance to start. Like many other backups, he has had that chance on occasion. And that taste of the spotlight had him thinking about his role with the Vikings during the season.

In early November the Marshall Independent, a newspaper close to Bouman's hometown of Ruthton, Minn., quoted Bouman as saying:
"I've been here a long time. I have a role as the backup. By the same token, my patience is wearing thin.

"Being from Minnesota and close to my friends is important, but I'm 30 years old. I've proven to myself that I definitely deserve a shot."

Bouman said that after he got his only action of the 2002 season against the New York Giants in Week 10. He completed three of six passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns, but he also fumbled twice. Vikings fans, however, will also remember that his playing time came during the highpoint of frustration over Daunte Culpepper's interceptions and fumbles. At the time, the team also was frustrated by a 2-7 start to the season. Culpepper went on to take every snap the rest of the season and ended with a league-high 24 fumbles and 23 interceptions.

So after the team had rebounded to win its last three games of the season and improve to 6-10, did Bouman have a change of heart? Not really.

He indicated to VU that he was still considering asking for a trade so he would have a shot at a starting position with another team, but he hasn't decided completely what he wants to do.

"I don't really know right now," Bouman told VU last week. "I haven't really sat and thought about it. Over the next couple weeks I'll just sit down with my agent and talk about it and see what we want to do and just kind of go from there."

Coming from NCAA Division II St. Cloud State University, Bouman got his chance in the NFL when Vikings personnel man Scott Studwell scouted the athletic quarterback and convinced Dennis Green to give Bouman a chance at a roster spot in 1997.

He spent much of his rookie season on the Vikings practice squad, a rare place to find a developing QB, but spent the final three games of the season and playoffs on the active roster as the third QB. From 1998 to 2000, he spent most of the games inactive but dressed as the emergency quarterback.

The following year, 2001, was his year to get noticed by those who follow the NFL closely. He played in five games and started three before aggravating a thumb injury and sitting out the final two games of the season. But it was his time on the field that caught the attention of observers.

On Dec. 2, he saw the first extended action of his career in Pittsburgh and threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns in relief of Daunte Culpepper, nearly converting a 21-3 deficit into a win. In his first career start the following week, Bouman threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns against Tennessee, and he was named the Miller Lite NFL Player of the Week.

Does Bouman believe his five appearances last year, including the three starts, and his brief action this season were enough for teams to offer the Vikings reasonable value in a trade? He's not really sure.

"That's something that I really don't know," Bouman said. "With scouts with other teams, we'll just have to see what they think."

He wants an opportunity to start, and the Vikings seem committed to the continued development of Culpepper, a first-round draft choice in 1999 whose contract is set to expire after the 2003 season. But Bouman also likes the system the Vikings are running under new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

"As far as the offense, terminology hasn't really changed," Bouman said. "But every offensive coordinator we've had is a little bit different, as far as their mentality. With him (Linehan), he brings a lot of different formations and motion into it, which makes it fun for the quarterback. It brings out the easy things in the game."

Vikings coach Mike Tice indicated midway through the season that if the Vikings felt they could get enough in return for Bouman that they wouldn't be opposed to exploring trade options. But that is one of the major questions involved with Bouman's status — are there any teams willing to take a chance on an undrafted player who has only seen action in six games over his five-year career. If not, the Vikings would feel pretty comfortable entering next season with Culpepper and Bouman, who is also signed through the 2003 season.

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