Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Vikings' Offer Favre's for the Taking

Minnesota Vikings' head coach Brad Childress will meet with former Falcon, Packer, and Jet quarterback Brett Favre tonight to discuss the two sides' interest in Favre manning the quarterback position for the Minnesota Vikings this year. While Childress undoubtedly is concerned about the progress that Favre has made rehabilitating an injured bicep on his throwing arm, the real question probably will be whether Favre feels sufficiently comfortable working under Childress to relent to the Vikings' on-going overtures.

That the Vikings are set to sign Favre is clear not only from Childress' approaching meeting with the quarterback, but also from internal actions that the Vikings' organization has undertaken. Beginning in Childress' first year with the team, the Vikings have worked to identify public sentiment regarding the team in the organization's attempt to clarify its bargaining position in negotiating for a new stadium. Consistently cited in the polls as among the organization's weaknesses have been the head coach and the quarterback.

For the past three years, the Vikings have worked diligently to improve the image of a head coach who came to town stating that he "chose the team" rather than the team choosing him. That work has helped remake Childress' image in public--as a Christmastime storyteller and as a mildly more open, coherently speaking, weekly in-season guest on KFAN. It has not, however, paid significant dividends in reversing the public's assessment of Childress as a coach as his numbers continue to identify him as the Vikings' single greatest impediment to winning the Super Bowl.

Continuing to view enthusiastic public sentiment as a priority for achieving not only a new stadium deal but a stadium deal highly favorable to the organization, the Vikings, led by owner Zygi Wilf, have committed to signing what most believe to be an essential element to any realistic chance for the Vikings' to contend for a Super Bowl in 2009, a veteran, quality quarterback. While Player Personnel Executive Rick Spielman saw that player in Sage Rosenfels, Zygi has opted for Favre and has encouraged Childress to view the signing of Favre in the best light possible--no matter what that means for Tarvaris Jackson and Childress' legacy as a quarterback mentor.

Given the need not only to bolster but to rally the fan base, Zygi has little choice but to add Favre. That likely means a payout approaching $10 million in guaranteed money for one year of Favre's services and $16 million for two years--money that the Vikings still can afford, all in year one if they so chose.

The move also likely will result in the end of Jackson's Minnesota career. With Rosenfels the "rising" veteran and J.D. Booty the rookie in the wings, Jackson, who has one year remaining on his rookie contract, presumably would have little, if any, remaining opportunity in Minnesota to prove his NFL mettle; with the Vikings unlikely to keep four quarterbacks on the final roster, and loathe to lose yet another young quarterback with purported promise, Jackson would be the obvious man out.

Finally, signing Favre would offer the organization a gauge for determining whether to extend or release Childress at the end of the 2009 season. In the fourth year of a five-year deal, Childress would have a nearly complete team--with questions only along the offensive line (questions largely of his creation)--and would have no clear excuses for not leading his team to the Super Bowl. If the Vikings cannot succeed with Favre, Zygi will have no choice but to begin a search for a new head coach. Childress understands the conundrum, but his previous personnel decisions have left him with no option but to champion the signing of Favre and to accept all of the potential warts that such a signing entails.

Up Next: Is the NFL Investigating More Tampering Charges Between Favre and the Vikings?

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