Will Culpepper Ask to Be Traded?

DETROIT – When Daunte Culpepper decided to come out of retirement and sign with the Detroit Lions in October (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)2008 we covered that story and the first line in our coverage read, “Run Daunte run! In the opposite direction.”

Culpepper, a three-time Pro Bowler, may wish he had heeded that advice as he finds himself relegated to the back-up quarterback position on the worst team in the NFL, riding the bench while Matthew Stafford, an unproven rookie, will be taking snaps Week One in New Orleans.

Prior to signing with the Lions, Culpepper had several meetings and tryouts with other NFL teams and turned down offers to play back-up for two winning teams, Pittsburgh and Green Baybefore deciding to play in Detroit. He was clearly looking for another opportunity to start and his discussion with the Lions is sure to have included that.

Culpepper didn’t speak to reporters after Monday’s practice, there’s an early warning sign he will be wanting out of Motown. If he demands a trade like many of us think he will and should, the pressure on Stafford to succeed multiplies tenfold since there are no veterans on the sidelines to step in if he falters or go to for guidance.

The bench is a strange place to assign a veteran like Culpepper who is a proven NFL quarterback that has thrown for more than 13 miles in his career. Thirteen miles . . . 23,208 yards . . . more than 232 football fields.

Being replaced with a rookie can only add fuel to the fire. Leave it to the Lions to use and hang another veteran out to dry, (Google Tatum Bell).

Culpepper showed great loyalty during his college days at the University of Central Florida.

After running up staggering stats, several top colleges tried to recruit him but he chose to stay in Orlando playing for the only school that offered him an opportunity during the original recruiting process.

Most youngsters his age would have jumped at the chance to play in the SEC but Culpepper stayed loyal to UCF. He went on to set a laundry list of NCAA records before being drafted in the first-round by the Minnesota Vikings.

Since arriving in Motown last fall, Culpepper has shown great commitment to the Lions organization.

He showed up in game shape this summer, dropping 30 pounds in the offseason preparing to lead a 0-16 disaster out of the cellar. The Lions quarterback position was Culpepper’s to lose but he was never given a fair chance to lose it.

Although he showed more poise and confidence and ran stats much more impressive than Stafford during preseason, Stafford connected with wide receiver Calvin Johnson for long gains on several occasions. That is sure to have caught the eye of Lions Coach Jim Schwartz but in all fairness to Culpepper; Johnson sat out with an injury both of Culpepper’s starts.

If anyone thinks Culpepper would have trouble finding a sprinting Johnson down any sideline they didn’t watch Culpepper when he made a living heaving spirals to a guy named Randy Moss. Culpepper’s arm clearly has some life left and he deserved a legitimate chance to reinvent his career and rejuvenate the Lions.

Quarterbacks do it every season. Last year Chad Pennington found his game in Miami and took home the AP Comeback-Player-of-the-Year award, leading the Dolphins to an 11-5 record. A year earlier, Jeff Garcia bounced back and found himself playing into January after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 9-7 division-winning record and playoff spot.

Culpepper must certainly feel burned; shafted. He did nothing that justified losing the starting position this preseason and Stafford didn’t perform well enough in his two starts to earn it.

Curious to see how this latest move by the NFL’s most desperate organization plays out. Snatching an opportunity like this from a veteran like Culpepper can cause bad Karma in your locker room.

Will it lead to trade demands by the 32-year-old quarterback who’s playing years are limited?

Don’t be surprised if it does.

Related Articles:

Starting Stafford Too High a Risk for Lions. 

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