With the Jacksonville Jaguars starter Byron Leftwich having a lock on the No. 1 job as he enters the final year of his contract, and backup David Garrard having played worse the more he played last season (he lost his final three starts), Jacksonville is the one team where a healthy Daunte Culpepper could insert himself into the starting QB role in the season’s first half. Plus, Culpepper would love to stay in Florida, where he was raised and played college at the University of Central Florida. The Jaguars have considerable interest, and they also could afford to be patient with Culpepper’s continued rehabilitation from his late 2005 knee surgery.
Adam Schefter, of the NFL Network, reports the Jags have spoken with Garrard regarding the team’s interest in Culpepper. The team told Garrard that any interest in Culpepper is not a reflection of what they think of him as a quarterback. The Ravens are not a key factor in acquiring Culpepper if the Dolphins release the quarterback, as expected.
This could be Culpepper’s last chance at getting a shot at a starting position in the NFL. He has not been significantly under center taking snaps since his MVP performance in ’04 with Minnesota. With Jacksonville being a realistic landing place because of the injuries with Leftwich (last year of contract as well) and the erratic play of Garrard; Culpepper would be fortunate enough to settle with the Jags. A better option would to be signed by his former team Minnesota, to mentor young Tarvaris Jackson or to go air it out in with young high-flying passing attack featuring Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams, with Detroit under Mike Martz and Co. (Jon Kitna is not the most reliable or consistent signal caller).
Down in Jacksonville, he would likely have a chance to overtake the back-up role and could get time starting if Leftwich is hurt again. Suitors for Culpepper are still too wary of his injured knee which he suffered at Carolina back in ’05, many teams will likely back away from him and not enter the contention for this uncertain QB. He would need to stay healthy, which he hasn’t for a period of time now, and would need to supplant Leftwich also, to have a legitimate chance to play. Right now it looks like this could be his only choice where he could have a shot to play, for the 30-year old from Ocala, FL.