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Examining the Possibilities at Backup QB for the Vikings

In an effort to get a real veteran backup presence behind Tarvaris Jackson. . .sorry, Brooks Bollinger, but you don't count. . .the Vikings are going to be hosting journeyman backup QB Gus Frerotte today at Winter Park. Frerotte is pretty much THE embodiment of the term "journeyman," as he's suited up for seven different teams during the course of his 14-year career.

Frerotte, a seventh-round pick out of Tulsa in 1994, started his career with the Washington Redskins, where he eventually won the starting job over highly touted #3 overall draft pick. . .and epic bust. . .Heath Shuler. He's also made stops in Detroit, Denver, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Miami, and St. Louis.

Gus spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons in Minnesota as the backup to Daunte Culpepper, and played fairly well in relief when Culpepper went down with a back injury. In the two games he started, he threw six touchdown passes and one interception in Viking victories over the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons. Granted, both of those teams were pretty terrible in 2003, but Frerotte looked fairly impressive in those games. Of course, the Vikings have a far different offense now than the teams of the Mike Tice era had.

For his career, Frerotte's numbers are pretty much what you'd expect from an average, journeyman quarterback. He's played in 136 games, starting 82 of them. He's completed passes as about a 54% clip, and has thrown more touchdowns (102) than interceptions (91). While he might still be able to perform on the field if called upon, he would be a much bigger asset as a mentor to Tarvaris Jackson, someone that can really help him break things down and see things that someone with more limited experience (like Bollinger) might not catch. When Daunte Culpepper was the Vikings' starter, he benefitted a great deal from the tutelage of quarterbacks like Bubby Brister, Frerotte, and Brad Johnson. None of those three guys are going to end up in the Hall of Fame any time soon, mind you, but they all provided a greater perspective for a young quarterback to benefit from, and I think Tarvaris Jackson would certainly benefit from that kind of help.

As long as we're talking about potential veteran backups, I think it's important to point out that the Niners also cut Trent Dilfer a few days ago, and he could be the same sort of option for the Vikings. Dilfer was drafted a year after Frerotte, and began his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He's also made a few stops in his career, having played for Baltimore (where he rode one of the great defenses of all time to a Super Bowl victory), Seattle, Cleveland, and San Francisco.

Compared to Frerotte, Dilfer has complete a higher percentage of his passes, though not by much (56% for Dilfer, 54% for Frerotte), but he's also thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in the course of his 13-year career (113 TD/129 INT). Of course, if you figure that in his first full year as a starter he played on a bad Tampa team and had a 4/18 TD/INT ratio, that sort of balances itself out over the years.

We all know that the Vikings need to address the backup QB situation in a big way. I'd be surprised if Bollinger is on the roster on Opening Day, to be honest. I think that the Vikings will find themselves a veteran to hold down the #2 slot and draft a "project" in the mid-rounds (Josh Johnson, John David Booty, Erik Ainge) to hold down the #3 position. It's now just a matter of figuring out which veteran the Beloved Purple will be going with for the 2008 season.