Childress willing to walk Favre tightrope

If Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress has received any assurances about quarterback Brett Favre's future, as we discussed earlier Thursday, he sure isn't admitting it.

In an extensive radio appearance on KFAN-1130, Childress said he would not be surprised if Favre plays in 2010 or if he retires. "I don't know if he's going to play next year," Childress said, "and I don't know if he knows if he is going to play."

History suggests Favre eventually will come around. But if Childress is to be believed, the Vikings are at least facing some anxious days ahead. They've put all of their proverbial eggs in his basket, and the dropoff if Favre doesn't play would be substantial.

We've discussed three primary examples of the Vikings acting with seeming confidence that Favre would return. Childress was asked about all three in his radio interview, and here's how he responded:

On not making a move to trade for Donovan McNabb: "Donovan McNabb was available. But when you don't know whether or not a guy is going to play, it wasn't our thing to force a hand. He's earned the right to be able to decide whether he's going to play or not play. What it does is give other quarterbacks a chance to take a bunch of turns that he doesn't need."

On making backup Tarvaris Jackson easily available this offseason by offering a low tender as a restricted free agent: "Obviously nobody came after him. You would think that is probably what you want to do business wise."

On making No. 3 quarterback Sage Rosenfels a spectator at minicamp, a move that suggested he would be expendable when Favre returns: "We're in a minicamp setting. You'd like to find out some things about other people. He's a 10-year pro. Putting Joe [Webb] in there and taking some turns. You can only stay on the field for an hour. You have to parcel those things out the right way."

In summary: The Vikings didn't want to lessen their chance for another year with Favre by considering a McNabb trade. They chose the possibility of Favre over the sure thing of McNabb. They also correctly gauged that Jackson, their de facto top quarterback if Favre retires, is hardly considered starting material in NFL circles.

I haven't changed my take on how this will play out. If the Vikings have in fact made a calculated bet, it's probably a good one. A mid-August, post-training camp return remains the likeliest outcome. But it's clear there will be some squirming and anxious moments in between.