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Taking a Look at the Vikings' Quarterback Quandary

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After watching the Vikings' playoff loss to the Eagles a week ago, you'd be well within your rights to wonder what, exactly, the Beloved Purple are going to do about the quarterback position for 2009.  Gus Frerotte, after this quote, probably isn't going to be back:

“I just don’t know what to think right now,” Frerotte told Silver on Sunday night. “It was a very frustrating experience, because I felt like I should’ve been the one playing. That might sound selfish, but I think I would’ve given us the best chance to win. I’m going home to St. Louis [on Monday] to be with my family and figure out where things stand, but the way things played out at the end really makes me question things.”

I'm not sure how Gus' ability to hit members of the opposing team right between the numbers with passes would have helped the Vikings last week, but he has the right to think that way if he chooses.  With the way he had performed over the last 3 1/2 games of the 2008 season, Tarvaris Jackson had earned the right to be the Vikings' starting quarterback in the game against Philadelphia.

However, with his performance in that game, he might have taken himself out of the running for the starting job in 2009.

There have been many names bandied about as a potential quarterback for the Vikings in 2009.  Some of the names that have been potentially linked to the Vikings via trade are Matt Cassell, Carson Palmer, and Matt Hasselbeck.

The Patriots have already stated that they intend to use the franchise tag on Cassell, but with Tom Brady already on the roster in New England, one would have to think that the Patriots are using that tag for the sole purpose of actually getting something for Cassell in a trade.  While Cassell did put up big numbers for the Patriots in 2008, it has to be tempered by the fact that he has two things at his disposal in New England that he wouldn't have in Minnesota. . .namely the best deep threat in the league at one WR spot (Randy Moss) and the guy that might be the best YAC receiver in the league at the other (Wes Welker).  Now, might Cassell be a good fit at QB for the Vikings?  It's entirely possible that he could be, sure.  Is it worth spending a couple of draft picks and $30 million in guaranteed money on a "maybe?"  I would have to say no.  This isn't like trading for Jared Allen, who we knew was awesome before he got to Minnesota.

The Palmer rumor intrigues me a bit, but it's based on the assumption that the Bengals are going to completely blow everything up and start over from scratch.  Surely they'll be ridding themselves of Chad Johnson this offseason, T.J. Houshmanzadeh is a free agent (and could potentially be franchised), and while Palmer isn't old by any stretch, it's possible that Cincinnati might be looking to completely start over again.  I don't think that there's a lot of merit to any trade rumors involving Palmer yet, but stranger things have happened.  I'd be more inclined to give up picks for Palmer than for Cassell, all things being equal.

I don't think that the Hasselbeck thing is likely to happen, either.  For starters, it's entirely possible that the Seahawks still have the taste of the whole "poison pill" battle a couple of seasons back in their mouths, which could throw a wrench in any potential trade talks with the Vikings.  Seattle doesn't have anyone obviously ready to replace him at this point, either.  Hasselbeck is getting up there in age (he'll turn 34 in 2009) and is coming off one of his worst seasons. . .a season that was injury-plagued, sure.  He'd be better than Gus Frerotte or Tarvaris Jackson, sure, but we don't know if what he went through this season is a sign of things to come.

One option that's kind of intriguing. . .and one that probably wouldn't cost the Vikings nearly as much as any of the three players above. . .is a guy that's currently serving as a backup QB for a team that's in the post-season.  He signed a one-year contract to serve as a backup to a team with a superstar starter in training camp, and has performed ably when called upon this season.  He's not spectacular, but in my opinion, he would represent an upgrade at the quarterback position for a team that really needs one.

That guy?  Byron Leftwich of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now, I've got a soft spot in my heart for Leftwich.  I think the guy's been wrongfully maligned by many.  He's obviously got physical talent, and he can obviously perform when he has decent parts around him.  He was surrounded by a lot of crap over the course of his past couple of seasons as well.  In 2006, nobody in Jacksonville knew what Jack Del Rio was doing with the quarterback spot. . .not even Jack Del Rio. . .and in 2007 he started a few games for an awful Atlanta Falcons squad.  His last season as a full-time starter, back in 2005, he played well and posted a very respectable 89.3 quarterback rating.

The other knock on Leftwich is his lack of "mobility."  In 2004, the year that he played the most games, he got sacked 25 times in 14 starts.  This year in Minnesota, Gus Frerotte got sacked 29 times in 11 starts, and Tarvaris Jackson went down 14 times in 5 starts.  So maybe "mobility" isn't all that it's cracked up to be.  If you have a guy back there that can make his reads and make teams actually pay for loading up to stop one of the best running games in the NFL, "mobility" really won't make any difference at all.

I know there have been lots of FanPosts about this since the season ended, but let me ask again. . .what do you folks think the Vikings should do with their quarterback situation going forward?  Talk about it here, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday!