Football

Despite offers, Culpepper still idle

During several e-mail exchanges this week, former Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper explained why he turned down offers from Green Bay and Pittsburgh, and why the Vikings were one of 14 teams he contacted during free agency.

The three-time Pro Bowl player also said his knee is healthy and his career is far from over.

”Last year, there were 60 QBs that (started) in the regular season,“ Culpepper said. ”Unless all 60 are better than me, I expect that my career in the NFL will continue.“

The league has 32 starting quarterbacks and 32 primary backups. No way 64 quarterbacks are better than Culpepper. For the love of Kyle Boller and/or Troy Smith, there might not be 32 ahead of him.

But here we are, 18 days from the start of the season, and Culpepper still is unemployed.

He works out and throws daily at his home in Florida. He also serves as his own agent, causing many to use the old line that he has a fool for a client.

Culpepper rejects that notion, defending the contracts he negotiated in Miami and Oakland and claiming, ”I am not convinced that I would gain anything from having (an agent) at this point in my career.“

But it is Aug. 17. Instead of ”hoping“ for a roster spot in mid-August, Culpepper could have had one in April when the Packers offered him a one-year, $1 million deal.

”When I visited the Packers, I felt real good about the opportunity to back up Aaron (Rodgers) on a good team,“ Culpepper said. ”I just sensed that when it was time to negotiate that there were some unresolved issues that kept them from giving me a market-value offer.“

Then why not take the Steelers' offer last Sunday?

”I just was not willing to take the vet minimum and no guaranteed roster spot,“ said Culpepper, referring to the $730,000 salary.

In need of an experienced backup after Charlie Batch broke his collarbone, the Steelers worked out Culpepper and Byron Leftwich last Sunday. The Steelers were set to sign both, but only Leftwich agreed to sign. .Months ago, before the Vikings signed Gus Frerotte, Culpepper said he reached out to them.

”I was encouraged by league personnel to contact the Vikings during free agency to gauge their interest,“ Culpepper said. ”I had a good conversation with Coach (Brad) Childress, and I have no hard feelings toward the organization.“

On Oct. 30, 2005, Culpepper tore three ligaments in his right knee during a 38-13 loss at Carolina. Childress was hired after the season, and an ugly divorce ensued until Culpepper was dealt to Miami.

Culpepper struggled while playing just 11 games for Miami and Oakland the last two years. But he's still young enough (31). He has had nearly three years to rehab his knee.

Culpepper might never get back to where he once was, but the fact he got there once not so long ago should be worth something in a league full of unproven quarterbacks.

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