- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2006

There could be an ex-Redskins quarterback controversy in Minnesota, where petulant and pricey quarterback Daunte Culpepper demanded to be traded or cut.

If the Vikings accommodate Culpepper, the door opens for two former Redskins starters, Gus Frerotte or Patrick Ramsey, to join the team and compete for a job with a third, Brad Johnson.

The 37-year-old Johnson played well when he took over the Vikings offense after Culpepper injured his knee in October, throwing 12 touchdowns to only four interceptions. Johnson started for the Redskins from 1999 to 2000 and later Tampa Bay, leading the Buccaneers to the 2002 Super Bowl title.

He returned to Minnesota, which drafted him in 1992, last season as an insurance policy for Culpepper, who was coming off one of the top seasons in NFL history.

However, the Vikings have changed owners (Zygi Wilf) and coaches (Brad Childress) since that 2004 playoff run, and it appears it’s time for a change at quarterback in the North Country, too.

That’s how Frerotte, a Redskin from 1994 to 1998, and Ramsey, a Redskin since 2002, could fit in.

Frerotte was a surprise starter last year for the Dolphins, who don’t want to pay the soon-to-be 35-year-old journeyman starter money.

Ramsey, 27, began his tour of the NFL (with Washington’s permission) on Wednesday at the New York Jets.

Minnesota was not yet on his list. However, if the Jets and Dolphins land their prime targets, Jon Kitna and Drew Brees, respectively, Minnesota could join pursuit of Ramsey.

Youngster Josh McCown and retreads Jeff Garcia and Jay Fiedler are the other leading free agent quarterbacks.

The Vikings aren’t the only team in the NFC North with an uncertain quarterback situation.

Detroit’s new coach, Rod Marinelli, is considering Ramsey, among others, to compete with disappointing holdover Joey Harrington. Chicago knows the oft-injured Rex Grossman and 2005 rookie Kyle Orton weren’t the reason for the Bears’ division title.

And three-time MVP Brett Favre has yet to let Green Bay know whether he’ll return for a 16th season. If Favre retires, the Packers definitely will bring in competition for their top draft pick of 2005, Aaron Rodgers.

There are other teams in the NFC with uncertainty at that spot, as well.

New Orleans figures to replace Aaron Brooks by using the second selection in April’s draft on Southern Cal’s Matt Leinart. The Bucs will choose between Chris Simms and Brian Griese, who split the job in 2005. And San Francisco’s Alex Smith, the top choice overall in 2005, has yet to establish himself.

Frye ready to resume rivalry — The Browns are ready to go young at quarterback. Charlie Frye, last year’s third-round pick, is looking to supplant veteran Trent Dilfer.

“Charlie certainly has earned a strong look,” general manager Phil Savage said.

Frye posted a record of 2-3 as a starter as a rookie and was sacked 22 times in just 186 dropbacks.

“He showed the ability to bounce back, some grit, toughness, determination,” Savage said. “We saw some real positives.”

The 6-foot-4, 217-pound former Akron quarterback can throw accurately on the run, much like the Steelers’ Super Bowl-winning and former Miami (Ohio) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who Frye went 0-3 against in the Mid-American Conference.

Frye doesn’t, however, have the cannon arm of the 6-5, 241-pound Roethlisberger, whose Steelers whipped Frye’s Browns 41-0 on Dec. 24.

“Everybody’s been talking about it for so long. I feel I can make all the throws. I’ve made all the throws,” Frye said. “Hopefully after this season we can end that. The rookie quarterback that you saw this year, you won’t see that guy next year. I played pretty well in the last five games, and I’m only going to get better.”

Hey, big spender — The $7.5 million increase in the salary cap leaves nine teams with more than $20 million to spend. In order of cap room they are: Minnesota, Arizona, Green Bay, Cleveland, San Diego, San Francisco, Baltimore, Jacksonville and Cincinnati. Only the last two are coming off playoff seasons.

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