Vikings in trouble? Brett Favre now leaning towards retirement.

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24: A fan in the stands holds up a Green Bay Packers #4 jersey as Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings walks off the field after the Vikings lost to the New Orleans Saints 31-28 in overtime during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

When training camp rolled around last year, Vikings head coach Brad Childress was fully prepared to head into the season with either Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson as his starting quarterback.

Let’s hope he still feels that way.

Judd Zulgad of the Minnesota Star-Tribune reports via his Twitter page that Brett Favre began telling Vikings officials last night that he will not return for a 20th season. Apparently Favre’s ankle has not responded the way he had hoped and he is now leaning towards retirement.

First and foremost, if Favre has been honest with the Vikings about his ankle this entire time, then there’s nothing more the team or Childress could expect from Brett. Both Childress and Favre have stated this entire time that they didn’t know what would happen and neither of them said either way whether or not he would return for another season.

That said, the cynic in me wonders if Favre led Childress and the Vikings to believe that he would return. For a guy that went to great lengths to make sure he didn’t hand the job to Jackson last offseason (including trading for Rosenfels and completely avoiding giving Jackson any encouragement through the media), Childress has been awfully calm about his quarterback position this offseason. Is he really fine with heading into the season with either Jackson or Rosenfels? Or had he known that Favre wasn’t coming back, would he have gotten another quarterback at some point over the last couple of months (either in free agency or the draft)?

Granted, this is Brett Favre we’re talking about. This is a man that absolutely despises training camp and will stop at nothing (including tormenting the media with his annual retirement dance) to avoid it. Jackson could be lining up to take his first snap under center in Week 1 and Favre could come running out of the tunnel to proclaim his return.

You just can’t put anything past him.

However, if Zulgad’s report holds true and Favre doesn’t come back, then the Vikings could be in a world of hurt. They still have Adrian Peterson, a solid offensive line and an outstanding front seven on defense, but without Favre and the threat of an efficient passing game, opponents will just stack the box to take away AP. Plus, Don Banks of reported yesterday that two of three hip specialists recommended that Sidney Rice have surgery in the offseason, which he never did. If Rice is hobbled, the Vikes’ passing game would take yet another huge hit.

Again, we just have to wait and see what happens. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if three weeks from now the media started reporting that Favre was coming back. Training camp will have wound down by then and maybe his ankle will start feeling better too. (I’m sure Childress would literally rip his own soul out of his body for Brett to return, so that’s an option as well.)

But if he doesn’t return, then the entire landscape in the NFC North changes. The Packers already proved last year that they were serious threats to the Vikings. Without Favre in Minnesota, Green Bay would become the favorites to take over the division.

Update: Childress, in the denial stage of grief, has reiterated to the media that Favre has not told him he’s retiring.

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Raiders interested in Sage Rosenfels?

The National Football Post reports that the Raiders and Vikings are discussing the availability of quarterback Sage Rosenfels. That’s the second quarterback (Donovan McNabb was the first) in the past week that Oakland has been tied to via a potential trade.

Whether or not the Rosenfels report holds any water, the writing is on the wall for JaMarcus Russell, who apparently now weighs a hefty 290 pounds. It has been assumed that Russell would get at least one more opportunity to show the Raiders that he can be their starting quarterback, but maybe the team is ready to cut bait now. (And who can blame them given his nonchalant attitude and horrendous work ethic.)

Rosenfels isn’t a long-term solution for the Raiders, but he would be an upgrade over Russell and Bruce Gradkowski. None of the current quarterbacks on Oakland’s roster offer much long-term hope, but even Gradkowski proved to be more effective running the team’s offense than Russell before he got hurt late in the year. And while Rosenfels didn’t take a meaningful snap last season, he’s still a better option than Gradkowski at this point.

One thing to keep in mind is that if the Vikings do part with Rosenfels, it would virtually be a guarantee that Brett Favre is coming back. Minnesota won’t part with an insurance policy like Rosenfels, even if they believe Tarvaris Jackson can supplant Favre someday.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Five QB options for Vikings in 2010

If Brett Favre has indeed thrown his last pass for the Vikings and decides to retire in the offseason, here are five options at quarterback for Minnesota next season.

1. Donovan McNabb
The Eagles currently have three quarterbacks on their roster and there’s some sentiment that they want Kevin Kolb to be the starter next season. There are a couple of connections that could link McNabb to Minnesota, none bigger than Brad Childress, who coached McNabb for seven years when he was the Eagles’ quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. Also, Minnesota’s current QB coach is Kevin Rogers, who was McNabb’s QB coach at Syracuse. If the Eagles do want to go with Kolb, Minnesota might be a logical landing spot for McNabb. Of course, the two teams would have to figure out compensation for the veteran QB.

2. Michael Vick
Even though he’s currently on the Eagles’ roster, the team has no intentions of making him a starter. If Philly decides to stick with McNabb or start the Kevin Kolb era, then Vick (who wants to be a starter) would be expendable. In fact, he may already be expendable and if the Eagles want a return on their investment, then they could deal him to an interested party. Vick could challenge Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels for the starting position, although the main problem is that Childress runs the West Coast Offense and Vick is a questionable fit for that system despite playing in it under Gregg Knapp in Atlanta.

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If Favre retires, was signing worth it for Vikings?

Before their win over the Cowboys in the Divisional Round two weeks ago, I proposed the question of whether or not signing Brett Favre was worth it for the Vikings. Now that Minnesota has been knocked out of the playoffs and the annual Brett Favre retirement dance has begun, I’m proposing a similar question.

If Favre does decide to hang ‘em up this offseason, was signing him for one year worth it for the Vikings?

Had they lost to Dallas, I would have empathically said “no” to the above question. The Vikings won the division and reached the playoffs with Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson in 2008. So for all intents and purposes, had they lost to the Cowboys the Vikings would not have improved under Favre and therefore, his signing would have been a waste. After all, Minnesota didn’t jump over all the hurdles to sign Favre last offseason just so they could win another division title and be bounced in their first playoff game. And had he retired after a loss to Dallas, the signing would have looked even worse.

However, my stance has changed after the Vikes advanced to the NFC Championship Game because that meant they did improve with Favre under center. They weren’t knocking on the door of a Super Bowl last year with Jackson at quarterback and although we’ll never know, I highly doubt they would have reached the NFC title game with Jackson or Sage Rosenfels this season.

So yeah, the signing of Favre was worth it in my eyes. Did they sign him in hopes that he would advance them to the Super Bowl? Of course they did, but 30 teams fail to reach the Super Bowl every year and 28 of them didn’t get as far as the Vikings did this season. They knew they were a quarterback away from making a legitimate run and they did what they had to do in order to sign one of the best in the game.

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If the Vikings lose on Sunday, would signing Favre have been a waste?

The Minnesota Vikings didn’t just sign Brett Favre in the offseason: They jumped through every hoop and hopped every hurdle in front of them in order to acquire the ageless one, including alienating Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson in the process. (And while I can’t prove it, I also fully believe that Brad Childress sold his soul in order to sign Favre as well.)

That’s why if the Vikings lose this Sunday to the Dallas Cowboys, signing Favre would have arguably been a waste. A team like Minnesota doesn’t subject itself the way it did this offseason to sign a 40-year old quarterback to lose in the second round of the playoffs. It signs a 40-year old drama queen because he’s worth it and to ensure that the team is going to have a shot at winning the Super Bowl.

Okay, so there are no sure things in pro football. Signing Favre didn’t guarantee anything for the Vikings, but they knew that they were a legit passing attack away from being a Super Bowl contender and so far, suffering through Favre’s drama this offseason has been worth it.

But if they lose this weekend, then they would have accomplished nothing. Favre isn’t going to play forever (uh, I think) and the Vikings’ window of opportunity to win a Super Bowl has been shrinking since Week 1. If they lose to the Cowboys, then the Vikes will have won precisely the same amount of playoff games with Tarvaris Jackson under center last year: Zero.

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