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Ryan Mallett and the Minnesota Vikings

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With a real dearth of options out there in the free agent market when it comes to the quarterback position, the Minnesota Vikings may be looking at the trade route to acquire a new signal caller, and there is at least one interesting name. . .well, interesting to me, anyway. . .that has come up on that front.

In one of his recent posts, ESPN Vikings blogger Ben Goessling puts forth the name of New England Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. Mallett, who played his college ball at Arkansas, was selected in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Interestingly, he was drafted with the third-round pick that the Patriots acquired from the Vikings in the ill-fated Randy Moss trade. (You know, in case you needed your daily reminder of the Brad Childress era.)

Mallett had the reputation coming out of college of being an exceptionally talented athlete, but having some off-field baggage. He fell into the third round and was the seventh quarterback taken, despite the Patriots declaring that they had him as the highest-rated quarterback on their board, ahead of even Cam Newton (who went #1 overall that year), Andy Dalton, and others. He has thrown just four passes in his career, completing one for 17 yards and throwing an interception.

Mallett is a big guy, measuring in at 6'6" and about 245 pounds. He doesn't have much of a reputation as a "mobile" quarterback, but has the kind of big arm that might be an asset in the Norv Turner offense.

It's hard to gauge the trade value of someone like Mallett, given his lack of playing time at the NFL level and the need that a team like the Vikings has at the position. You can also throw in the fact that Tom Brady, the current Patriots' starter, isn't going to play forever, and the Patriots have spent three years developing Mallett as the backup quarterback. If the Patriots are willing to deal him, you probably wouldn't expect him to come cheap.

I'm not sure how realistic the prospect of a trade for Ryan Mallett actually is, but it is an intriguing one to think about.