NFL Nation: R.J. Archer

Buried in an ESPNNewYork.com report about the Jets' interest in quarterback JaMarcus Russell was this sentence: "Sources say the Arizona Cardinals or the Minnesota Vikings are the most likely landing spot for Russell, but the Jets have inquired by phone and received positive reports."

Russell
Russell
Would the Vikings actually consider bringing in Russell? Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune reports that "the odds of Russell landing with the Vikings are not high," and I've heard nothing to suggest otherwise. I believe that Russell's interest in joining the Vikings is legitimate, considering the skill position players he would be surrounded by and the unique circumstances of their current quarterback situation. While Brett Favre figures as the starter next year, an opportunity exists to step in and replace him as early as the 2011 season.

The Vikings released rookie quarterback R.J. Archer on Tuesday, leaving them with the four quarterbacks they will probably take to training camp: Favre, Tarvaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels and rookie Joe Webb. The fact that we're even discussing the possibility of Russell illustrates how difficult it has been, and will continue to be, for the Vikings to find a long-term answer at the position.

Russell would be a risk-free long-shot, but as of now the Vikings don't appear compelled on either count.
I can see it already -- and I know you can, too.

Renowned orthopedist James Andrews tells Brett Favre he needs surgery on his left ankle if he wants to play in 2010.

[+] EnlargeBrett Favre
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesBrett Favre sustained the ankle injury during last January's NFC Championship Game.
Favre, who turns 41 in October, wrestles with the difficult decision of whether to have surgery or, sigh, retire. The days tick on as Favre is torn between spending his days on a tractor or earning $13 million for five month’s work in Minnesota. Finally, after much angst, Favre has surgery, begins his rehabilitation and targets, say, a mid-August test of his football skills.

Call me cynical. But does anyone believe the next few months will play out any other way?

Look, I have no doubt Favre has a legitimate injury. Anyone who saw New Orleans defensive end Bobby McCray twist the ankle during the NFC Championship Game, or saw the pictures of the ensuing swelling, knows it’s real. And it’s also true we haven’t been told the exact nature of the injury.

I spoke this morning with ESPN analyst Stephania Bell, who acknowledged that serious ankle surgeries do exist -- reconstruction among them -- and said it’s difficult to extrapolate Favre’s prognosis without more information. But Favre has had ankle surgery before, in 2007 to remove bone spurs, and I don’t think we’re making a dangerous assumption in suggesting the surgery is more likely to be routine than it is significant.

I suppose it’s possible Favre will retire rather than have surgery. Maybe this will provide him cover for a decision he’s already made not to return to Minnesota. But knowing his history, don’t you think it’s much more likely the opposite is true?

Favre spent three months “testing” his surgically repaired throwing arm last summer, and if he plans to replicate another post-training camp arrival this year, I think he’s now identified his avenue.

I will say this: If the Vikings were either caught off-guard by this revelation or if they’ve miscalculated his intentions, then they’re guilty of gross negligence at the most important position in sports.

As we’ve documented many times, they haven’t lifted a finger this offseason to add anyone at the position. Returning to a competition between two quarterbacks who flopped last summer in training camp, Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, would be indefensible in my opinion.

If there was any doubt about it before, I’ll be heading to Minnesota’s rookie minicamp Friday afternoon. I’ll pass along any information I glean -- including whether R.J. Archer or Ryan Perrilloux looks like a viable starter this season.

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Falling

Average age of Minnesota’s quarterbacks. Last week, the Vikings’ three quarterbacks -- Brett Favre, Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels -- boasted an average age of 33. But that number plummeted to 30.25 after they signed William & Mary quarterback R.J. Archer as a rookie free agent. And if you want to add Ryan Perrilloux to the mix -- he will participate in a rookie minicamp this weekend as a tryout basis -- the average drops all the way to 28.8. So take that, all you naysayers who questioned the Vikings’ long-term viability at quarterback after they failed to draft one this year.

Rising

Optimism in Detroit. How often has a Lions coach been quoted saying something funny, much less something as wild as Jim Schwartz’s joke (I think) that he gets “aroused” watching Jahvid Best highlight videos on YouTube? Yes, the Lions believe they have something going after overhauling their defensive line and adding a number of skill players -- Best, receiver Nate Burleson, tight end Tony Scheffler -- to their offense. When you’ve lost 30 of your past 32 games, and 37 of your past 40, you take advantage of every reason to smile.

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