Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Significant Decision Remains at Quarterback

With five quarterbacks on the roster, it was little surprise when, last week, the Vikings opted to release the least experienced of the group, former University of Miami signal caller Kyle Wright. While some had suggested that the Vikings might retain Wright and release Brooks Bollinger, such a move would have left the Vikings with only one experienced quarterback, Gus Frerotte, behind Tarvaris Jackson. And with an injury history and age operating against Frerotte, that would have left the Vikings in a precarious situation at quarterback.

Ultimately, the Vikings were left with two options regarding Wright. The first was to do as they did, letting Wright walk after a brief appearance in the team's OTAs. The second was to retain Wright and release not Bollinger, but fifth-round quarterback John David Booty. And, after giving up a seventh-round pick to move up to take Booty, such a move simply was not in the cards.

Wright's release does not finalize the Vikings' moves at quarterback, however, as the team almost certainly will enter the season with three rather than four quarterbacks. That means that the Vikings still have a difficult decision to make. Committed to the relatively inexperienced Jackson as the starter, the team must carry an experienced veteran to fill in for Jackson should Jackson falter or sustain an injury. That means that either Frerotte or someone not currently on the roster will be the backup quarterback next season.

The more interesting issue for the Vikings is whether to keep Booty or Bollinger. Bollinger cannot be designated for the practice squad, meaning that the Vikings either must keep him on the roster or release him. Booty, meanwhile, is eligible for designation to the practice squad but likely would be picked up by another team if the Vikings did attempt to so designate him. Neither option is entirely satisfactory from the Vikings' perspective, but neither, either, would be retaining four quarterbacks at the loss of a player at another position.

Though Bollinger has been average at best, he has shown some ability at the professional level and should be capable of playing at least one full game without significantly impairing the Vikings' season. Booty, on the other hand, has zero NFL experience but arguably more upside, if not substantially more.

Head coach Brad Childress' commitment to Jackson as the starter last season meant that Jackson was virtually assured of being the starter in 2008. That, now, has come to pass. And that has handcuffed the Vikings in one of two ways. Either the team must enter 2008 with an extra quarterback on the 53-man roster or the team must employ a three-man quarterbacking corps that either short-changes the team's future or handcuffs its present.

Up Next: Offensive Line.

9 comments:

Shawn K said...

Usually I am onboard with your opinions, but not this time. Almost every team's QB situation consists of a) the starter; b) the experienced backup; and c) the developmental guy. The only reason this is even a topic of conversation is because Jackson is still considered to be unproven. If the Vikings actually did like Kyle Wright, it would have made more sense for them to release Bollinger and eventually placed Wright on the practice squad. The fact that they didn't tells me that he didn't show much at the OTAs. Bollinger is history, end of story.

vikes geek said...

Shawn,

I don't know where our disagreement rests. I, too, suspect that Bollinger will be the odd man out. But that leaves the Vikings in a very unenviable depth position starting the season--an unproven starter backed up by an oft-injured veteran and a rookie who will not see the field in 2008. The Vikings thus actually differ from most teams in two, if not three, important respects. The first, as you note, is that they are relying on a relatively inexperienced player as the starter. The second is that their veteran backup has a history of going on the DL. Finally, while some teams have a guy like Bollinger as a third-string quarterback, the Vikings likely will have Booty as their third-string quarterback.

Peter said...

Do you know who the emergency QBs are? I'm guessing if Jackson goes down and Frerotte headbutts another cement wall they surely have more than just Booty, right?

Shawn K said...

First off, maybe calling Jackson "unproven" is not completely accurate. He did start the vast majority of the games last year, and has been in the system for over two years. Even though the results have been mixed, I can't imagine a scenario where he won't be at least a little better than he was last year. So that is not a bad start, and Frerotte will be fine for short stints if necessary. And I still contend that most teams have a developmental guy--not a Bollinger--as their third stringer. Who can afford a quality 3rd string QB? Heck, going back to the early/mid 90s, lots of teams only carried two QBs. But yes, the Vikings (and most other teams) would be in big trouble if their top 2 QBs were simultaneously injured for an extended period of time. It's just a chance you have to take...

vikes geek said...

Shawn,

I agree with most everything that you have written. Also, as I have noted in the past, I was a fan of signing Frerotte, given the limited alternatives. With that said, while most other teams have a veteran as a backup, most other teams have either greater certainty at the starting quarterback position or less concern about the health of their veteran backup--or both.

VG

vikes geek said...

Peter,

That's the rub. If Booty makes the team as the third-string quarterback, he will be the emergency quarterback.

VG

Peter said...

But aren't there any players on the team who played QB in college but play a different position as a pro?

I want to think Sidney Rice used to play...

vikes geek said...

Peter,

Good question. Childress played QB briefly at Illinois...

VG

word said...

I think Darren Sharper also had some experience at QB. I believe he has been an emergency QB for us in the past? correct me if I'm wrong.

Word