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What if Thigpen had remained in Minnesota?

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Despairing in Minnesota about the Vikings' long-term quarterback situation? Then you might not want to read this post from ESPN.com's Bill Williamson, my AFC West colleague. (Actually, you should. Reading is learning).

Bill chronicled the eye-opening day of Kansas City quarterback Tyler Thigpen, a former Vikings draft pick who completed 25 of 36 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-24 loss Sunday to the New York Jets. It's way too early to draw any conclusions, but at minimum Thigpen gave the Chiefs something to think about as they mull signing veteran Daunte Culpepper after losing Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard to injuries.

It's difficult to project a player's long-term prospects off one game, and Thigpen has struggled in other appearances over the past two seasons. But rest assured, no passing performance in the Vikings' recent history has matched even the mild optimism Thigpen generated Sunday.

The Vikings were among a handful of teams who uncovered Thigpen at Coastal Carolina prior to the 2007 draft. They initially planned to sign him to a free-agent contract but ultimately used a seventh-round pick to ensure they got him onto the roster.

Thigpen proved to be a quarterback worth developing during training camp, and he seemed destined to be the Vikings' No. 3 quarterback in 2007. But when No. 2 quarterback Brooks Bollinger struggled, the Vikings acquired Kelly Holcomb to provide backup for young starter Tarvaris Jackson.

Rather than release Bollinger, however, the Vikings tried to sneak Thigpen onto the practice squad on final cutdown day. The Chiefs, who had scouted him during a joint training camp practice between the two teams, claimed him on waivers.

Vikings coach Brad Childress said at the time he was "sick" upon losing Thigpen, and for good reason. Jackson flopped early this season, and current starter Gus Frerotte is 37. If the Vikings fall out of the 2008 playoff race, wouldn't it be an ideal time to give a developmental player like Thigpen an opportunity?

Alas, the Vikings won't have that chance. And for what? Holcomb was released in March and Bollinger lost a competition with rookie John David Booty during this summer's training camp. Jackson, meanwhile, has a murky future at best. Who will be the Vikings' 2009 quarterback? In all likelihood, he's not on the roster today.

Consider it this way: The Vikings haven't had a quarterback throw for at least 280 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in four seasons. Yep, it's been since Culpepper threw for 280 yards and two scores on Oct. 23, 2005. Hope has been fleeting ever since.