NFC North: Tim Rattay
Call me a cynic. I apologize in advance. But am I the only one who has trouble believing Wednesday morning that Brett Favre has absolutely, positively and without question retired from the NFL?
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|Is Brett Favre done for good? We thought so last March.|
It seems to me that anyone who watched Favre's flip-flop in Green Bay last year has to be wary of his stated intention to leave the game for good. And I felt that way before reading the entire story produced by ESPN's Ed Werder and Chris Mortensen. The report contained this passage:
While Favre did not directly broach the subject of the team simply releasing him so that he might have the option of signing with another team such as the Minnesota Vikings, a source said that [agent Bus] Cook informally discussed the option with the Jets. The Jets respectfully declined that option, the source said.
There is only one reason to have even an informal discussion about a release: To ensure the option, however unlikely, that Favre can choose his next team should he change his mind. If Favre was 100 percent committed to retirement, such a safety net would be irrelevant. But even Favre -- or at least Cook -- knows there is no way to predict whether his winter defiance will melt into a summer desire.
If Favre tried to build a contingency plan into this departure, then there's no way I can rule out a repeat of last summer's return.
There are other reasons to question whether Favre will stick to his plan this time. If you recall, he has often stated he wasn't totally ready last year to make a decision about his career in Green Bay. The Packers asked him for an answer prior to the start of free agency, and he told them what he felt at the time: That he was ready to retire.
But, Favre pointed out, many veteran players don't want to think about the prospect of next year so early in the offseason. It wasn't until the late spring and early summer when he started experiencing the "itch" felt around the NFL.
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A similar scenario played out this winter with the New York Jets. Team officials were hoping to get an indication prior to the annual scouting combine, which starts Feb. 18. So Favre told them how he feels at this moment. Who is to say he won't get the same itch again this summer?
And, even if he doesn't, you can't rule out a team that is dissatisfied with its quarterback situation -- or loses its starter to injury -- approaching the Jets about a trade. The poison pill that effectively prevents the Jets from trading him to an NFC North team remains in place, but that doesn't mean a fast-talking general manager or coach from another division couldn't convince Favre to give it another go.
Favre threw an NFL-high 22 interceptions in 2008. But if you're in mid-August and your other option is, say, Tim Rattay, don't you at least look into Favre's availability? And if you're the Vikings, how fast would you jump if the Jets reversed course and decided to release him?
I think it's more likely that Favre will remain retired than it is that he will seek a return. But that's as far as I'm willing to go.
Maybe I'm jaded. Perhaps I spent too much time last summer in Green Bay. But if I learned anything during that episode, it's never to underestimate Favre's willpower -- or his indecisiveness. They are competing attributes that combine to make him one of the least predictable professional athletes of modern times.
Detroit coach Rod Marinelli was peppered with questions Wednesday about veteran quarterback Daunte Culpepper's surprise visit a day earlier. The Lions had not reached a contract agreement with Culpepper as of Wednesday afternoon, but Marinelli seemed to indicate the door is still open.
Here is the relevant transcript from Marinelli's news conference, courtesy the Lions' public relations department:
On how QB Daunte Culpepper looked during the Lions' workout on Tuesday?
Rod Marinelli: "I thought he moved around good. We had a bunch of guys in. You know, we bring them in every Tuesday. He moved around good; good feet and all those things."
On his thoughts about going forward with Culpepper?
RM: "Well, we looked at him and visited with him and we'll see how things workout."
On how Culpepper would fit in the program if he were signed to the team?
RM: "I won't go there yet. It's just where we are. He had a good workout and [he's] a good guy. He's a really good person."
On if Culpepper's visit on Tuesday was more than just a normal workout?
RM: "Oh yeah, we went in and had a good workout with him. We had a chance to visit with him. So, that's where it's at."
On what would be the point of bringing in a veteran QB like Culpepper?
RM: "We had a chance to look, [but] we don't know where we're at with it right now. [He's] a very good productive football player. He's been a very good player in this league -- and he's young."
On if communication is still open with Culpepper?
RM: Oh yeah, and I will say this: we brought in safeties; we brought in [Tim Rattay] the week before and we're open to all those guys. So I'm just being honest with you on that; all of them are."
Reporters also broached the possibility of using No. 2 quarterback Drew Stanton.
On if Marinelli has plans to play QB Drew Stanton soon, even if for only a series or two?
RM: "We look each week and we just see how much we can handle. We'll just let things play out and we'll see."
On whether playing Stanton is something they would even consider?
RM: "Oh yeah, [that's] something you always consider."
On if it is possible for Stanton to get some playing time this week or in the coming weeks?
RM: "Oh yeah, in the coming weeks, yeah. I wouldn't rule anything out, no."
You can say this much about the Detroit Lions' quarterback position: It's up for grabs. So in that vein, it's not surprising to learn that free agent Daunte Culpepper emerged from two months in retirement to visit the team's practice facility Tuesday.
Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com has the story.
Culpepper, who last played with Oakland in 2007, has been unwilling to join a team that doesn't offer the prospects of a long-term starting job. And while the Lions might not be promising him much, the state of their depth chart -- Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton and Drew Henson -- at least gives Culpepper a chance to win the job.
Culpepper announced his retirement last month but said last week he would consider offers from NFL teams. He initially planned to visit Kansas City on Tuesday but apparently changed his mind after learning of the Lions' interest.
The Lions' immediate interest is not known. They worked out free-agent quarterback Tim Rattay last week but did not sign him.
UPDATE: Birk's Eye View is reporting the Lions have high interest in Culpepper and want to sign him Tuesday.
One quick note of news on what's likely to be a quiet week in the NFC North. (Whoops. Now I jinxed it).
Detroit worked out quarterback Tim Rattay on Tuesday, as first reported by Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com. You never know when the Lions might need another quarterback after placing Jon Kitna on injured reserve, leaving them with Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton and Drew Henson on their quarterback depth chart.
Rattay played in four games for Arizona last season.