Childress nixes rumors indicating Culpepper trade

Updated: February 24, 2006, 7:31 PM ET
Associated Press

Downplaying the trade speculation surrounding Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress asserted that he plans to have both Culpepper and Brad Johnson on the team this year at quarterback.

"That's the mindset," Childress said Friday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. "I don't know anything to the contrary."

Culpepper, meanwhile, said in an e-mail that he has not heard from the team in regard to his request for further talks about his contract.

A day earlier, Culpepper wrote that he was assured by owner Zygi Wilf in a phone conversation earlier this week the Vikings have "not yet spoken to other teams about trading" him.

The injured quarterback, who tore three ligaments in his right knee in an Oct. 30 game and has been rehabilitating in his native Florida, also said he told Wilf he wasn't happy with what he's been reading in the news -- and what he hasn't been hearing from the club.

"I shared my disappointment with the lack of communication and the false reports about me demanding more money coming out of Minnesota," said Culpepper, who let go of his agent last month and has been representing himself.

Culpepper's statement also mentioned that he offered to move his $6 million roster bonus, which is set to be paid on March 17, to another date to help the Vikings sign more free agents under the salary cap -- though the team is projected to have plenty of room.

"If I am not traded, I want to help coach Childress make a serious run for the championship this year," Culpepper said.

Childress acknowledged that the team has had inquiries about Culpepper, with the free agent and trading period set to begin next weekend.

"That's what goes on this time of year," he said.

But the coach diverted his comments toward Culpepper's knee. He's projected to return for training camp, but that's not a guarantee.

"He's three months out of a major surgery," Childress said. "Before we do anything, we're going to get him back to health.

"All my talk with the trainers is about getting him back to the level of play he was at in 2004."

That's when Culpepper was chosen for his third Pro Bowl after setting several franchise records and establishing an NFL mark for most combined rushing and passing yardage. But playing without receiver Randy Moss, center Matt Birk and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Scott Linehan, Culpepper started last season poorly and then suffered the devastating injury.

"All of the discussion about me being traded or cut has helped me realize that the contract I have ran out of guarantees the day I was injured," he said. "Therefore each year they pay you to play is a gift. I expect that if there are no changes to my present contract, then I should prepare for a year-by-year commitment. When I am ready to hit the field this year, wherever it may be, I plan on being better than ever and enjoying the ride."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press