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Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Culpepper to Bills: 'I can be the guy'


Dante Culpepper
Veteran quarterback Daunte Culpepper says he feels he can still help a team.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- I spoke with the NFL's most proactive free agent Monday.

Daunte Culpepper strolled around the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, happy to be recognized and hoping to plant an idea.

Culpepper doesn't have an agent. The three-time Pro Bowler represents himself, and what better way to market himself to prospective employers by attending the NFL owners meetings, a convention of executives and head coaches from all 32 teams?

"I'm here," Culpepper said, "to maybe have some conversations with whoever it may be, GMs or player personnel guys or head coaches, just to reiterate that I'm available and see if there were any situations where I can be brought in to contribute to an organization."

I asked Culpepper what clubs he wanted to make it a point to speak with. After a broad smile, the Buffalo Bills were the first to tumble from his lips. In fact, they were the only club he mentioned.

"I would love to talk to Buffalo," Culpepper said. "I don't know if they'd have an open mind, but I'd love to talk to them. I would love to have a chance to compete there.

"Give me the opportunity. I can be the guy."

Culpepper is well aware the Bills have an unsettled quarterback situation. They have three who started at least one game last year. Trent Edwards was former coach Dick Jauron's choice to start the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick was interim coach Perry Fewell's preference. Brian Brohm started a game because of injuries.

None, however, seem to appeal to new general manager Buddy Nix or head coach Chan Gailey.

"They haven't made any moves at quarterback," Culpepper said.

Earlier on Monday, in the same hallway I interviewed Culpepper, I asked Nix if the Bills' opening-day quarterback was on their roster.

"I have no idea," Nix replied. "I really don't know. I know that's what we got now, and it's open. Chan's made that clear. We're going to see who comes out. The fact that those are the three guys we got, we like all three of them, all of them got redeeming qualities, but if something else comes available, we might add a fourth to the mix. I don't know."

Culpepper's available. That's the whole point of his trip to Orlando from his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He never has attended the owners meetings before to shop his services.

"It's definitely humbling, but it's exciting to see everybody here," Culpepper said. "Hopefully, I can get some positive feedback and something would come from it.

"It's a process. I represent myself, so I figure I've got to do the things my agent would be doing. I put in the calls, but to be able to come to a place where everybody is here, just to talk, I think it would be very positive."

In the five seasons since Culpepper threw for 4,717 yards and 39 touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings, he has been a vagabond, playing with four teams in that span. The Vikings traded him to the Miami Dolphins. He then bounced to the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions.

He turned 33 in January and claimed he's fully recovered from the knee and foot injuries that have slowed him in seasons past. He said he's ready to work out for any team that wants to take a look-see.

As far as AFC East teams, the only one other than the Bills that might have room would be the New England Patriots. Undrafted sophomore Brian Hoyer is the lone reserve behind Tom Brady on the their QB depth chart. The Dolphins and New York Jets have four quarterbacks apiece and youngsters in the starting role.

"I would love to come in and compete for a starting job," Culpepper said. "I feel great physically. I'm 100 percent right now. I'm working on that every day. But whatever the role might be ... If a team needs a veteran backup to come in, either way. I feel I can contribute."