Pelissero: Trade Rosenfels? There will be a market for him, scouts say
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Sage Rosenfels swears he's not thinking about it, but he surely knows his second training camp with the Minnesota Vikings is partly -- if not largely -- an audition for the NFL's other 31 teams.
He spent the entire 2009 season inactive as the Vikings' third quarterback. He's due $2.6 million in base salary this year. He's no longer an ascending player at age 32. And all indications are Tarvaris Jackson is a virtual lock for the top backup spot behind Brett Favre.
"That's great stuff for fans and great stuff for maybe my family," Rosenfels said after working behind Jackson throughout practice on Friday, "but it's not something I can sit around and worry about all day."
No doubt, the Vikings have invested in Rosenfels, trading a fourth-round pick to the Houston Texans for him in February 2009 and paying him more than $3.4 million in salary and bonuses last year. But those were decisions made before Favre came aboard last August, and before the Vikings took a sixth-round flyer on Joe Webb -- a prototypical development QB with some freakish physical talents.
Assuming Favre returns, and assuming Jackson and Webb perform anywhere close to expectations here, the Vikings would be crazy not to listen to offers for Rosenfels -- and there's a good chance they'll have the opportunity to move him.
"There's probably three, four teams in the NFL that have good depth at the quarterback spot," an AFC personnel director said recently. "If a guy went down and a team needed a solid backup who's had some play time as a starter, I wouldn't be surprised if they solicited the Vikings."
One or two teams usually find themselves in that position every year as the 53-man roster reduction approaches -- and the Vikings have been there more than once in recent years.
On Aug. 31, 2006, they acquired Brooks Bollinger from the New York Jets for defensive tackle C.J. Mosley and a seventh-round pick. On Aug. 27, 2007, the Vikings got Kelly Holcomb from Philadelphia for a sixth-rounder.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (from St. Louis to Cincinnati in 2007), Josh McCown (Miami to Carolina in 2008), Luke McCown (Tampa Bay to Jacksonville last year) and Kevin O'Connell (Detroit to the Jets last year) have been moved in late August or early September, too. Rosenfels is a natural fit on that list.
"Oh yeah, I think so," an NFC scout said, when asked if there would be a market for Rosenfels. "Once you get through this little bit of training camp and people start to realize what they got in terms of -- not necessarily a starter, but I'm sure more of a backup. We all know it's a quarterback-driven league."
The question with Rosenfels probably is less about what he can do on the field -- he proved a competent backup and fill-in starter in seven seasons with Houston and Miami -- than whether the Vikings could get enough in return to make it worth their while.
The odds seem long they'd recoup that fourth-round pick for a player who's a year older with no more experience, at a time when no team is looking to bring in starting competition. Then again, if a team is desperate, the Vikings would be operating with a certain level of leverage.
"If something happens with Mike Vick and (rookie Mike) Kafka doesn't really come on in (Philadelphia) like they think, I can see him being the second guy -- for somebody, yeah," the NFC scout said. "I don't think (Rosenfels is) starter material. But it could be maybe like a sixth- or seventh-round pick."
Another factor to consider is the Vikings' cloudy long-term plan at the position. Favre could retire anytime, neither he nor Jackson is signed beyond this season, and Webb is a project who's yet to take an NFL snap.
Rosenfels is signed through 2011, with a base salary that increases to $3 million in 2011. He has good size (6-foot-4, 225 pounds), decent mobility and enough arm strength to make the necessary throws in the short to intermediate passing game.
The reality, though, is he's a career backup who's never been a full-time starter for a reason: he isn't going to take a team on his shoulders. And whenever Favre retires, Childress and company surely will examine outside options to try to find someone capable of doing that.
To see where he stands, just look at Rosenfels' lack of reps during last month's minicamp -- a surprising relegation for which the veteran, plainly miffed, said on Friday he still has received no explanation.
"He's not a guy who's going to elevate the players around him," the AFC personnel director said. "But he's going to be very efficient in what he's doing, and if you've got players around him, he does have enough ability to get the ball into the playmakers' hands."
That will have value to some team.
Maybe not now -- "If he goes in and stinks it up in the preseason," the NFC scout said, "then that's all a wash" -- but most likely by early September.
"Everyone's always said your play is your resume, and I feel like I've played pretty well for nine years now," Rosenfels said. "I still have to get better. I still have to find ways to improve. I've spent the last six weeks training my tail off to get ready for these next six weeks, and now it's on to a long season."
Where it ends, who knows?