Vikings need to Cherry (pick) Garcia


                           A leader is needed

The NFL free agency period for veterans begins next Friday the 27th - three days after quarterback Jeff Garcia turns 39.  But while that places the well-traveled vet a year closer to his black-ballooned birthday, it is without pause that the Vikings should ink Garcia to a deal for next season.

Garcia, informed by Tampa Bay within recent days that he wouldn't be resigned by the Bucs, may indeed be a single-season, patchwork solution to the Vikings' most glaring offseason need.  Yet, in a league that breathes on a week-to-week basis, one year of scooping up Cherry Garcia is better than the Vikings' other realistic and/or tangible options.

Despite his advanced years, it's well worthy of note that Garcia has only started 116 NFL games, a measured number considering his ten years in the league.  Viewers of Tampa's Week 11 win over the Vikings can attest to Garcia's continued mettle and footwork, a contest in which the vet went 23-for-30 with 255 yards and no picks.  There's still some tread on that tire.

Garcia critics abound, and many will surely note his 58-58 career record as a starter, his


pedestrian 2-4 postseason mark, and his tendency his succeed with good coastal clubs (San Fran and Philly) while fluttering with poor mid-country teams (Cleveland and Detroit).  But let us not forget Garcia's five years in Canada with the Calgary Stampeders (1994-98), a run which began as a third-stringer to Doug Flutie and concluded with a Grey Cup Championship and MVP. 



 Photo by G-tastic 7 via Flickr



In those CFL years Garcia saw some bench time as well, riding pine for his first season-and-a-half.  Add to that the fact that in his 10 NFL years he's played all 16 just three times (and not since '02).  Wear-wise, Garcia is more 35 than 39.  Older?  Yes.  Old?  No.  Furthermore, it should be well-noted that much of his lack of playing can be attributed to dearth of opportunity, as opposed to habit of injury.

In addition, after going 3-7 as a starter with crappy Cleveland in '04 and 1-4 as a starter with disastrous Detroit the following season, Garcia's last three years --  working with quality talent - have signaled a rebirth.  He's 19-11 as a starter since 2006, and working with "quality" in Minnesota would serve as an understatement to Adrian Peterson's ascending luminary status.

Those waffling over Cherry's age should note that his 64.9 completion percentage from last season was the best of his career - this for a four-time Pro Bowler.  Garcia has managed a 90-plus QB Rating in each of the last three seasons, added evidence that there's still mojo in that tank.

Jeff Garcia has long offered results when in the environs of result-oriented and proven players.  He may not be the answer for the Purple, but considering the shallow pool of other free agent options and lack of a high Minnesota draft selection slot, he's an answer for a current QB crop that is still puzzling over the questions.