With Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre's recent announcement that he desires to return to the NFL in 2008 and subsequent rumors that he and the Minnesota Vikings have been discussing a possible change of venues bringing Favre to Minnesota, the question left insufficiently addressed is whether Favre would be a good fit with the Vikings. The short answer is that he would be. The long answer is longer.
Among the myriad considerations that the Vikings would have to address in determining Favre's value to the team are the likely harm to the progress of current starter Tarvaris Jackson, the implications for the team's salary cap, Favre's likely prospects as a starter, and what the team would have to concede to obtain Favre.
There is little question but that inserting Farve as a starter in Minnesota would retard the professional maturation Tarvaris Jackson. But, for at least two reasons, that's a concern that the Vikings should deem irrelevant.
While Jackson showed signs of progress last season, few even within the Vikings' organization consider Jackson ready to lead a Super Bowl caliber team. Still throwing out phrases like "caretaker" and "mistake free" to describe the type of play expected of Jackson in 2008, Vikings' head coach Brad Childress clearly would not object to an upgrade at the quarterback position, particularly if the decision were one that came from above in the organizational hierarchy.
The Vikings ought also to want to move on Favre, regardless of the implications for Jackson, if only as a means of following the blue print for success under the current NFL collective bargaining agreement. Under the current CBA, teams must play with short windows in mind. Building for the future thus only has meaning if by the future one means within the next three years. Begging any greater of a window will only serve to fulfill that wish--in perpetuity.
With aging veterans at several key positions, the Vikings no more have the luxury of building for tomorrow than does any other team in the NFL. If and when Jackson is prepared to lead the Vikings, the Vikings can asses their wherewithal as a contender and build accordingly. Until such time, the team ought to do what recent championship-caliber teams have done--build for today with an eye on tomorrow. Added Favre and retaining Jackson as a backup would fulfill that goal.
Adding Favre is not without on-field concerns, however. With a suspect offensive line likely to be crippled for at least a portion of the season by what appears to be the imminent suspension of left tackle Bryant McKinnie, Favre's creaky knees probably will not get him out of traffic as well as Jackson's would him. But Favre is likely to compensate for his short-comings in speed and quickness by finding receivers more quickly, reading defenses better, and getting rid of the ball quicker--all things upon which Jackson still needs greatly to improve.
A final concern that the Vikings would have regarding the possible addition of Favre is the implication for the Vikings' salary cap of adding the quarterback. Were Favre to remain with the Packers, his salary cap figure for 2008 would be in the neighborhood of $12 million. Given the Vikings' current salary commitments, the team would not be able to absorb such a hit and remain under the NFL's hard cap ceiling. Either the Vikings would have to restructure salaries or convince Favre to take a paycut, with the latter the most likely scenario.
Flush with cash, Favre likely is not returning to the NFL for the pay day. Rather, his return appears fueled by his competitive nature. Money is important, it just is not Favre's overarching concern. That dovetails nicely with the Vikings current salary cap situation.
Concerns about adding Favre to the team aside, the question remains whether the Vikings can obtain Favre. Many analysts have suggested that the Vikings' prospects in this regard are minimal as the Packers would ask for a ransom from the Vikings in exchange for the quarterback. While the assumption that the Packers would ask the Vikings to part with more than the Vikings would or should be willing to part, the conclusion is off-base.
The Vikings' prospects for landing Favre in a trade rest not with whether the Vikings are willing to meet a ludicrous trade request presented by Green Bay, but whether the Vikings are able to convince another team to trade for Favre and then trade Favre to the Vikings. Such an end-around maneuver likely would add a price to any trade that the Vikings might make for Favre, but the price still would be lower than that which the Packers would try to extract from Minnesota in a straight up trade.
I've suggested previously that the double-trade scenario is both possible and, increasingly, probable. It is possible because Favre has shown he will make things difficult should he land with a team for which he does not wish to play. Because Favre has intimated his desire to play in Minnesota--and because no otherwise viable contender appears to be only a quarterback away from contention--Minnesota is, thus, the only team other than Green Bay for which it would make sense for Favre to play. Already, then, every other NFL team is on notice of Favre's desires.
But because Green Bay has created a situation whereby it is virtually impossible to retain Favre and increasingly ridiculous, thereby, to retain him at $12 million plus a season for the next three seasons, the most logical move for Green Bay to make is to take what it can get for the disgruntled player. That probably equates to a low return for the Packers--something along the lines of a third- or fourth-round draft pick. And, given that no team will want to back out of a deal that it has made to act as intermediary in the transfer of a disgruntled player, the asking price by the intermediary of the Vikings should also be reasonable--probably the invested third- or fourth-round pick and a later-year fifth-round pick.
The only thing that could derail these best laid plans would be a Packer organization fearful of being burned and willing to eat ten percent of the team's cap space to avoid such a prospect. That, or another change of heart by Favre.
Up Next: Cap numbers and roster spots. Plus, coming and going.