Brett Favre is going to be part of the Minnesota Vikings … unless, of course, he changes his mind and doesn't want to be a Minnesota Viking. That's the reality that the Vikings seem to have set themselves up with, and it could be a soap opera they enter into next year as well.
But let's concentrate on this year. If/when Favre signs with the team (and the smart money says next week to conveniently stir the ticket-buying public right before single-game tickets go on sale on July 20), he will be the team's starter, which could force some interesting decisions upon the coaching staff and management as it relates to the rest of their roster.
Although head coach Brad Childress has said in past seasons that he would consider keeping four quarterbacks, it doesn't appear that was ever a serious consideration. With only 53 spots available on the active roster, those are premium jobs and few teams opt to keep four quarterbacks at the sacrifice of another player who might be able to contribute on game days.
So who would be the odd man out in a Favre-colored world? From this view, it seems that Tarvaris Jackson, who has had every opportunity to seize control of the job, might be the favorite to be gone. It would also be the riskiest move with team chemistry because Jackson has the most invested with his teammates over the past three years. Sage Rosenfels just came to the team in a trade this offseason. John David Booty has just one year under his belt.
But Jackson has publicly had players in his corner. Bernard Berrian told the football world on NFL Network that he was surprised by the strength of Jackson's arm last year. Bobby Wade has routinely given Jackson favorable reviews. Defensive end Ray Edwards, a friend of Jackson's, was most vocal about Jackson.
"Tarvaris is my quarterback. If he loses his job, then, hey, he's still my quarterback. I came in with Tarvaris. We've been friends ever since and I have faith in him," Edwards said in May. "I believe he is the better quarterback. He's proven in the league. Sage has proven himself in the league also, but to me Tarvaris is a more mobile quarterback and can make plays happen."
But one of the reasons Jackson could be the odd man out is actually his value. He has shown promise in stretches, and that might be enough for another NFL team to consider giving the former second-round draft pick a chance in another system in exchange for a lower-round pick.
Jackson's statistics from last year look good. He completed 88 of 149 passes for 1,056 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. Although he didn't play enough to qualify (he has to average 14 passes per game), his 95.4 regular-season passer rating extrapolated over the course of a full season would have actually placed him fifth in the NFL in that category, just ahead of Colts star Peyton Manning and behind Philip Rivers, Chad Pennington, Kurt Warner and Drew Brees. But after an 0-2 start to the season and probably too much caution, Jackson was pulled for Gus Frerotte, who completed the same percentage of passes as Jackson (59.1) but threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (12), resulting in a lower rating (73.7).
Of course, Jackson's big downfall after he got another opportunity was his playoff performance. Whether it was nerves or, more likely, the pressure applied by the Philadelphia defense, he struggled badly in his first playoff game. He connected on only 42.9 percent of his passes for 164 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for a 45.4 rating. The big concern would be that the Eagles created the blueprint for the rest of the NFL on how to unravel Jackson.
However, if other coaches and general managers around the league take a look at the on-again, off-again nature of his starting status through his first three years, they may be inclined to give him another chance.
"If you really step back and look at what he has been through, he has been through a lot," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said in May. "Whether it is his first season where you're the number three and not getting many reps and then all of a sudden you are starting the last two games. Then you are starting, then you get hurt. Then you're starting and then you get pulled. So he has been through a lot. I think he has handled himself admirably through the whole thing in all the situations he's been through. He's a fighter. I think he wants to own the team and he wants it to be his."
If/when Favre does sign, the team will be his for at least this season. Considering Jackson has only one year left on a contract that is scheduled to pay him $535,000 in base salary, he might be the easiest option to trade and get something in return. Even if the Vikings keep him, there is no guarantee he would re-sign with the team after the 2009 season anyway.
The Vikings' year-long interest in trading for Rosenfels makes him an unlikely option to move, especially after they signed him to an extension through 2011 that puts his cap number between about $2.5 million and $3.5 million each of the next three years.
As for Booty, the Vikings have been pleased with his work ethic and dedication this offseason, and considering he lasted until the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft and hasn't had any regular-season proving time, it's unlikely the Vikings could get much, if anything, by trading him. One possibility could be trying to slip him through waivers and place him on the practice squad, but that would expose him to the rest of the league, which wouldn't have to give up any draft picks to obtain him. The Vikings already gambled and lost on a move like that in 2007 with Tyler Thigpen, who was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs and produced 11 starts and a 76.0 rating for them last year.
The good news for the Vikings is that they don't have to make a decision quickly. Their 80-man roster doesn't have to be trimmed to 75 players until Sept. 1 and they'll have until Sept. 5 before it becomes the 53-man roster required during the regular season.
No doubt, a Favre signing would create some excitement (and some consternation) among a split fan base. It would also make for some interesting decisions with the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster.