Miami Quietly Releases Culpepper

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: July 22, 2007

PHILADELPHIA — Lost in all of the events surrounding the Michael Vick “who let the dogs fight” soap opera of the past couple of days was that two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper was officially released by the Dolphins.

Last Monday’s release on ended a brief drama filled, one-year relationship including three months of limbo after Miami’s acquisition of former Chiefs quarterback Trent Green.

The move was done a day before Culpepper’s NFLPA grievance against the Dolphins for breaching his contract was to be heard by NFL Arbitrator John Feerick (same guy who ruled in Steve McNair’s favor against the Titans in a similar case in 2006).

I think it was dastardly of the Dolphins to first not let Culpepper practice with his teammates after he’d shown up at the Miami training facility ready to work on June 8th and secondly for them to hold up Daunte’s release by new Dolphins Head Coach Cam Cameron and GM Rick Mueller.

They both said that they didn’t want Culpepper to be a distraction, but everyone knew they were just turning the screws on him after the Green acquisition by keeping him on the roster and sheepishly looking for a trade that would have basically never come.

Culpepper never really fit in at Miami and he could not get his career back on track after tearing his ACL, MCL, and PCL in a horrific play versus the Panthers in 2005 causing him to miss the fnal nine games.

The injury was the final straw that ended a horrible year for the Culpepper and the Vikings including the “Love Boat” fiasco and the firing of Head Coach Mike Tice. New Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress and Vikings owner Zygi Wilff pushed Culpepper out the door due to his immaturity (their belief), comments about the Vikings, and his own rehab plans.

When Culpepper was traded to the Dolphins in March of 2006, he thought it was a dream situation and he even restructured his 10-year, $102 million contract extension, which included $16 million in guarantees that he signed with the Vikings in 2003 to play in his home state of Florida.

However Culpepper’s “dream” became a self-described nightmare as he was rushed back by former Dolphins Head Coach Nick Saban, to justify trading a 2nd rounder for him.

Culpepper looked good early losing weight and putting on his old college No. 8 in preseason, but he was clearly not the same player once the real bullets started flying.

He was sacked 21 times in four regular season games (1-3) and was extremely tentative before being shut down for the year throwing for 929 yards with two touchdowns and three picks.

With the release of Culpepper, the Dolphins cleared $1.3 million in cap room and their QB picture is now in the hands of the 37-year-old Green, unproven backup Cleo Lemon, and second round pick John Beck.

Culpepper, who serves as his own agent, will now need to find a team interested in his services (possible landing spots are below). Hopefully after some much needed rest, he can come back closer to the player we saw in his Pro Bowl years of 2000 and 2004 when he had 40 total touchdowns (running and passing).

For his career, Culpepper has played in 85 NFL games completing 64.2 percent of his passes with 21,091 yards passing and 137 touchdowns and 89 INTs.

Rumored teams that could be interested in signing the 8-year pro include:

Jaguars: They appear to be the early leaders in the clubhouse due to Culpepper’s Northern Florida roots. They also don’t seem interested in signing current quarterback Byron Leftwich, who will be a free agent after the 2007 season. Culpepper also has worked with Jags Assistant Mike Tice and GM James Harris has been a big fan of his since the 1999 draft.

Falcons: With the Michael Vick’s season and future up in the air over dogfighting allegations, having a Pro Bowl ready quarterback in the wings would not hurt. Current backups Joey Harrington (who was also with Miami in 2006) and D.J. Shockley are also uninspiring.

Patriots: A chance for Culpepper to join the league’s greatest rotisserie team. Backup QB Matt Cassel has little playing experience and Culpepper would be another big free agent acquisition for the Pats this off-season.

Rams: Culpepper has a previous relationship with Head Coach Scott Linehan from his glory days in Minnesota.

Packers: Brett Favre can’t be there forever and Culpepper knows the NFC North division well. Plus is anyone inspired enough to think 2005 1st rounder Aaron Rodgers is ready to lead the Pack.

Texans: Need a viable NFL backup to new quarterback Matt Schaub who has only two NFL starts.