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Posted: Monday August 24, 2009 2:39AM; Updated: Friday August 28, 2009 12:27PM
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MMQB (cont.)

Brett Favre completed only 1 of 4 passes for four yards in limited action vs. the Chiefs.
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Childress Blows on Dice and Hopes He Rolls 7

"So you don't like the move,'' Childress said to me Wednesday.

It's not that I don't like the move to get Favre, I said; I just don't like it now. I told Childress that Favre's the one who said he felt 40 while working out in Mississippi in July, and just didn't think he could make it through a full season. Given that Minnesota's favorable early schedule (at Cleveland, at Detroit, San Francisco) could be a cushion for a pretty tough 15-day stretch in October (Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, at Green Bay). Favre, if needed, could have joined the Vikings near the Week 9 bye, and been fresh for the final eight games, five of which are in the friendly confines of the Metrodome.

"I don't have any reason to believe he won't stay healthy, barring a car accident or some catastrophe,'' said Childress. Other than the fact that Favre wore down last year in New York and said he was feeling 40 now.

I repeat: I'd have liked this move if Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson struggled, and Mariano Rivera had to come in for the season save. But I'm just going by Favre's words, and those words three weeks earlier were downcast and stark.

I don't care that Favre struggled Friday night, and I don't care that he started after being in camp for 15 minutes; all pretense of having to earn anything with the Vikings has been thrown out the window after Childress bent every rule on the team to get Favre in-house. On one of his three incompletions Friday night against Kansas City, Favre threw the wrong way when Percy Harvin, half his age, ran the right way. In time, he'll learn his receivers, and he'll make some beautiful music with them. This one tempts fate -- and the longest starting streak a quarterback has ever had.

"The key to me,'' said Childress, "is managing the guy. We'll get him ramped up, we'll get him to be the leader he is, and that doesn't mean he'll be Patton and come in and throw his weight around. But I think it's good to get him in now to learn his teammates and get to know his receivers. That takes some time.''

As I said to Childress, I don't agree with the timing, but I understand why he did it. The team is a quarterback away from serious Super Bowl contention, and he didn't trust Rosenfels or Jackson to be that quarterback. He knew how painful it was for Favre to say no to returning three weeks ago, and he knew if he asked him one more time, and attached a now-or-never string to it, he'd probably get Favre to come in. I just think it shouldn't have been now or never. If Childress wanted Favre today, he'd want him next week. Or the week after.

But it's done, and the Twin Cities are in a bigger tizzy than if Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau signed lifetime contracts with the Twins. FOX is delirious to have the first three Favre Retirement Tour games, ESPN is frothing at the prospect of the Packer-Viking Monday-nighter Oct. 5 and Ice Bowl possibility at Chicago Dec. 28, and Dick Ebersol and NBC are laying in the weeds for a couple of Sunday-nighters in Weeks 11 through 17. Everyone's happy. Now the star of the musical just can't get laryngitis.

Quite Honestly, Why Should Anyone Care if There's a Cap in 2010?

I keep hearing all these stories about how the rich will get richer and the cheap teams will use an uncapped year in 2010 to get financially well. I've seen a list of looming free agents for next spring, and I know the rules of free agency for the year, and I can tell you this: It's a bunch of bunk.

Now I don't know if, say, the Bengals or Rams or Jags will spend to some noncompetitive floor, though any team that spends $70 million on players will get so much public scorn for it that it'd surprise me if even the hard-bitten owners like Mike Brown would slash payroll by 35 or 40 percent. But understand the minimum-service time for unrestricted free agents rises from four to six years in 2010, and understand that each team can use a franchise tag AND transition tag to lock up two potential free agents next year, and understand the top eight teams in the league can't sign a free agent until they lose one of similar value. Now you understand why the prospect of an uncapped year doesn't make general managers league-wide lose much sleep. Or any.

The Steelers could be hurt the most in free agency next year, with defensive end Brett Keisel, underrated free safety Ryan Clark, nose tackle Casey Hampton and running back Willie Parker slated to be free. But suppose Rashard Mendenhall's progress this year makes Parker a luxury, and suppose the team decides that Hampton, at 32 and with a history of weight problems, isn't worth the risk of another contract, particularly with defensive-tackle heir Ziggy Hood already on the team. If they chose, they could put tags on Clark and Keisel, ensuring they wouldn't lose either of their two need players.

Here's a list of the top 20 players I project for free agency next spring. Keep in mind that many of these players will be tagged and never see the free market. (I have kept free-agent-to-be Philip Rivers off the list, because it's next to impossible the Chargers would allow him to leave.)

1. Ryan Clark, FS, Pittsburgh
2. Vince Wilfork, NT, New England
3. Julius Peppers, DE, Carolina
4. Karlos Dansby, LB, Arizona
5. Richard Seymour, DL, New England
6. Brett Keisel, DE, Pittsburgh
7. Aaron Kampman, DE/OLB, Green Bay
8. Casey Hampton, DT, Pittsburgh
9. Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh
10. Dunta Robinson, CB, Houston
11. Kevin Walter, WR, Houston
12. Antonio Bryant, WR, Tampa Bay
13. Ryan Pickett, DL, Green Bay
14. Justin Bannan, DL, Baltimore
15. Chad Pennington, QB, Miami
16. Chester Pitts, G, Houston
17. Kassim Osgood, WR/Sp. Teams, San Diego
18. Nate Burleson, WR, Seattle
19. Casey Rabach, C, Washington
20. Sebastian Janikowski, K, Oakland

A couple of notes: Keisel, at 285 pounds an excellent run-playing defensive end, will be highly regarded as a 3-4 end because more teams are playing the scheme. Bryant is low because of his checkered past, but a solid year in Tampa Bay this season could make him fly up the list.

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