Assault On Culpepper

I work with a sizeable number of people who are fans of long-sufferingly bad NFL teams. Given that I am in central-to-Southern California, they are mostly 49ers fans, but there are other fans of the downtrodden — particularly some Bears fans, who are dying for something not Kyle Orton or Rex Grossman behind center. Seriously, looking at the starting quarterbacks for several teams in this league right now, it’s mystifying to me as to why Daunte Culpepper couldn’t land a half-decent shot at nabbing a starting gig for Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore, or any number of teams without waiting for a QB to get hurt. Now, he’s decided to retire at the age of 31.

Much of this is probably due to Culpepper acting as his own agent, and the blame could go both ways — he turned down offers that didn’t have roster guarantees or pay what he thought he was worth, and in the NFL, they will chronically underpay you until they have to pony up — but that willingness to take his own career into his hands and deal directly with management probably did not sit well with some of the entrenched power brokers among the NFL elite.

Chicago is notorious for being cheap about QBs, and I wouldn’t suggest going back to Oakland, Miami, or Minnesota — it’s hard to go back some place after you’ve been shipped out.  Atlanta and Baltimore are both starting rookies, Buffalo is putting its faith in the second year of Trent Edwards, Arizona has gone back to Kurt Warner after Matt Leinart has looked like crap once again.

So why did the only offers come from Green Bay and Pittsburgh? If his knee did turn out to be completely healthy, he would be a vast improvement over about half the QBs in the league (particularly in San Francisco). I am hesitant to bring up the collusion bit at times, but the guy cannot be that much of a jerk or ego enough to get all teams to not seriously consider him.

One Response

  1. How about, he just really *isn’t* an upgrade over other starting QBs in the league, even Chicago’s? For serious.

    In my analysis, Daunte’s never really had good QB tools (especially decision-making), but he did have two formidable assets that concealed these deficiencies for a few years in Minny: 1) Randy Moss and 2) the ability to run himself out of trouble and keep defenses on their heels. Now, I got monster fantasy numbers out of him in 2004, so I’ve been as willing to defend him as anybody, but his post-injury, post-Minnesota career tells a pretty stark tale.

    Speaking for Chicago, we don’t have a line that could protect him or receivers talented enough to compensate for his inaccuracy, anyway. There was absolutely no reason to make him an offer: we already tried the “washed-up running QB” tactic in 2003 when it went by the name Kordell Stewart, which resulted in both Chris Chandler and highly-touted rookie Rex Grossman winding up as starters down the line.

    Orton and Grossman both have 1-year contracts, so they are both motivated to play their best football. They’re both younger and fitter than Daunte, and they have a young kid behind them (Caleb Haney, undrafted FA) who showed some upside — dare I say a Favre-esque quality? — in preseason.

    There’s simply no point “upgrading” the QB position this season, for any NFL team, by signing a big-money contract for a guy with 45-year-old knees trading on a five-year-old reputation.

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