Stealing HeadlinesWith spring training just under way and the thoughts of many sports fans now turning to the boys of summer, the National Football League has to find a way to stay in the headlines.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
With spring training just under way and the thoughts of many sports fans now turning to the boys of summer, the National Football League has to find a way to stay in the headlines.
One way to do this is through the start of the free agent process, by which teams are able to both address needs they might have and steal a few headlines from the other pro teams in their area in the process.
The Minnesota Vikings have done this through the signing of a new quarterback. Sage Rosenfels, late of the Houston Texans and now of the beloved Purple, was introduced to media last week as a competitor to Tarvaris Jackson at the most important position on the field.
While Rosenfels is a step up, at least in appearance, from the now-departed Gus Frerotte, it might be a good idea to examine the signing in a little bit greater detail to see if he really is the savior the Vikings are looking for at the quarterback position.
For weeks, we were told that the top quarterback available for signing or trade, New England’s Matt Cassel, would cost far too much to acquire. Yet, it was also announced last week that Cassel – along with veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel – went to lowly Kansas City for a second-round pick. Both of them.
Does this have anyone else scratching his or her collective heads? Yes, Cassel would be expensive to sign due to his franchise player designation, but when what everyone says you need to get over the hump is a quarterback and you’re under the salary cap as the Vikings are, why not try to get a deal done?
We don’t know that they didn’t – and Monday’s Denver Post report that the Vikings are interested in trading for the quarterback they should have tried to draft a few years ago, Jay Cutler, means this story might be far from over.
Cutler is reportedly very upset at reports that the Broncos attempted to trade for Cassel and that might be a significant issue to any team that wants to acquire him.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in a blog on Monday that coach Brad Childress hasn’t ruled out the possibility of another quarterback being brought in.
“I’m not clairvoyant,” the coach told the press, re-earning the title “Master of the Obvious” that his style has earned him among the circle of Viking fans I frequent.
The Vikings, as they did last year, are trying hard. Cincinnati wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who would be a magnificent addition to the team, visited last week and is considering signing with Minnesota. That would give whoever quarterbacks the team in 2009 a nice range of targets from which to choose – provided, of course, that Childress’ offense gets the ball in the hands of the right players at the right spots on the field.
That, as they say, is debatable. Childress hasn’t shown a propensity to call plays that would do that over his tenure in Minnesota so one wonders if such a strategy is within his bag of tricks.
But the signs are there that the team continues to strive to achieve, and those signs are largely positive. Rosenfels may not be the ideal solution for the quarterback position, but pushing Jackson to improve with someone who is substantially younger than Frerotte is a good idea.
One wonders how far the Vikings will go, but there’s also this to consider. The team is making serious noise on the stadium front despite the depressed economy and gigantic state budget deficits. There’s a substantial group of people who want to see the team succeed on the field – without excuses – before any such commitments are considered.
There are also those who don’t want a stadium built at all. Frankly, in this environment, it’s hard to justify. And as one who has long supported the idea of a renovated Metrodome as a cheaper way to help the Vikings’ revenue stream, perhaps now is the time to think outside the box.
Meanwhile, the team is trying to improve. That’s enough to take headlines from the Twins for at least one week.