Vikings deal Culpepper to Miami for second-round pick
|On the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio, Chris Mortensen breaks down the Daunte Culpepper trade to the Dolphins and what this means for Drew Brees. Mort says Miami was concerned about both Brees' price tag and his shoulder. He also discusses how this impacts the draft.|
Brees agreed to a six-year, $60 million deal with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday. The deal includes a $10 million signing bonus.
Miami coach Nick Saban revisited the trade talks with the Vikings on Monday, after Dolphins officials determined that the contract demands of Brees were more than they wanted to invest.
Culpepper passed his physical for the Dolphins and Miami scheduled a Wednesday afternoon news conference to introduce their new starting quarterback.
Culpepper had been talking to the Dolphins for the past week, expressing his desire to be with the Dolphins along with showing a willingness to rework his contract to fit into the Dolphins salary cap. Contract talks between the Dolphins and Brees have been stalled because the Saints had more money and more guarantees on the table from the Saints.
Vikings coach Brad Childress said recently Culpepper is on schedule in his rehab from surgery in which he tore three knee ligaments after having a trainer fly to Florida to meet with Culpepper. The recovery time from such major surgery is 12 months, but Culpepper has told the Dolphins that he's ahead of schedule and may be able to play before September.
Brees is coming off January surgery to repair a torn labrum and also a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. The Dolphins spent much of Monday putting Brees, who is currently rehabilitating the shoulder in Birmingham, Ala., under renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, through a lengthy battery of tests. It is not known how much the results of those tests entered into the decision to pursue Culpepper instead.
Miami released last year's starter, Gus Frerotte, on Tuesday. He would have cost the team $4.38 million against the salary cap this year.
Frerotte went 9-6 as a starter in his only year with Miami, and threw a career-high 18 touchdown passes. The 12-year veteran has played for six NFL teams.
Upset by Culpepper's public attempts to force a divorce, Minnesota determined last week to trade the unhappy quarterback and ratcheted up their dialogue with possible suitors. The situation, however, was so awkwardly handled by both Culpepper and the Vikings that trade talks dragged on, interested franchises came and went, and Minnesota eventually found itself with few options.
In an e-mail last week, the fourth he has sent to Twin Cities and national reporters since last month, Culpepper wrote: "Now that I have confirmed that the Vikings have been seeking to trade me, I have asked for permission to speak to the interested teams. The Vikings have denied my request. If a trade does not happen, then I am asking the Vikings to terminate my contract as soon as possible."
Minnesota was scheduled to pay Culpepper a $6 million roster bonus on March 20 as part of a contract enhancement new owner Zygi Wilf added to the quarterback's existing deal last summer. It remains to be seen how the Dolphins deal with that obligation. Miami almost certainly will want to readjust the contract as part of the trade.
But the contract, which runs through 2013 and pays a base salary of $2 million for this year, was just one of the several elements that complicated the trade negotiations with several teams.
Culpepper, 29, continues to rehabilitate his right knee and, while he is said to have made substantial progress in his recovery, the injury was a severe one. Culpepper tore three ligaments in the knee in an Oct. 30 game at Carolina and has been rehabilitating in the Orlando, Fla., area. First-year Vikings head coach Brad Childress would have preferred that Culpepper continue his rehabilitation at the team's facility.
It was not immediately known if the Dolphins did any preliminary examination of Culpepper's knee.
In addition, Culpepper still faces misdemeanor charges related to the so-called "Love Boat" scandal of last September, an incident allegedly involving some Vikings teammates. And, finally, Culpepper split during this offseason with longtime agent Mason Ashe, and has been representing himself. He may need to hire representation to help him deal with the Dolphins in any contract restructuring.
Culpepper's base salaries for the seasons after this one rise dramatically, to $5.5 million in 2007 and $6 million each for 2008-2009.
A first-round pick in the 1999 draft, Culpepper has appeared in 81 games and started all but one of them. He has completed 1,678 of 2,607 passes for 20,162 yards, with 135 touchdown passes and 86 interceptions.
The former Central Florida star has also rushed 454 times for 2,476 yards. He has been chosen to the Pro Bowl on three occasions.
Len Pasquarelli and John Clayton are senior NFL writers for ESPN.com.