What the Favre deadline might mean

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
So, Minnesota has imposed a deadline of this week for Brett Favre to make a decision about playing in 2009, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Ed Werder. Two questions immediately come to mind.

  1. Why?

  2. How final is the deadline?

Let's address questions in order.

After watching Favre's showdown with Green Bay last summer, the Vikings no doubt realize that absent some sort of artificial motivation, Favre will string out the decision as long as possible. This deadline could be a way of managing the issue and giving Vikings players some finality and certainty before they break for the summer next week.

Call me cynical, but I wonder if there isn't some (funny) business going on here. Could this be a negotiating ploy by the Vikings, coming one day after Favre was reported to be uncertain about his status? (And three days after agent Bus Cook made an unsolicited argument for his client's value to The Associated Press?)

Let's say, for argument's sake, that the Vikings have given Favre a preview of their potential contract offer. Let's say it was for something less than the $13 million Favre was due to earn under his previous deal. I'm guessing Favre isn't interested in taking a pay cut and is using the Vikings' admitted interest in his services against them.

Friday, here's what Cook told Dave Campbell of The Associated Press:

Cook: "I would think they would pull out all the stops if they want to get the guy. I think Brett Favre just brings a whole new ballgame to any ballclub. That's no reflection on the guys that are on their team at quarterback right now, but Brett's in a different league than most."

Campbell noted Cook offered the quote "without prompting." I can imagine Cook making a similar argument to the Vikings behind closed doors.

What is the Vikings' leverage? That they are Favre's best, and maybe only, possibility for ever playing another NFL game. A deadline, among other purposes, could serve to heighten the urgency of his decision-making process.

It's just a theory, but one that makes some sense to me.

Then, of course, we get to the nightmare scenario: If Favre allows this deadline to pass, is it really over? If Favre calls Childress later this month or early in July and says he wants to play, will the Vikings really say no? They obviously have great interest in him now, and should not have been under any illusions that he was a quick decision-maker. What would change about their interest, or their current depth at the position, that would allow them to say, "Yes," now but "No" next week?

To me, this is the price of the dance with Favre. The Vikings are trying to lead the steps, but I don't know if they have a willing follower.