Miami released the former Pro Bowl quarterback Tuesday, wrapping
up a contentious split between player and team. The move came one
day before a breach-of-contract grievance filed by the NFL Players
Association on Culpepper's behalf against the Dolphins was
scheduled to be heard, and after Miami unsuccessfully tried for
weeks to trade the 30-year-old.
Culpepper -- who became expendable once the Dolphins made a trade
six weeks ago with Kansas City for Trent Green, who'll be Miami's
starter entering this season -- said he got word from his attorneys
about the release on Monday night.
"As I was going through this process I heard about a quote by
Gandhi that best expresses my thoughts about this victory: 'First
they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then
you win,'" Culpepper, who serves as his own agent, said in an
e-mail. "Now that I have won my freedom and I get to choose my
next team, I am just like many other people who have to go out and
find employment so that I can take care of my family."
The Dolphins, who announced the move in a one-sentence e-mail,
did not have further comment.
"The best possible result we could have gotten in the
arbitration is what we got in this settlement, so we are obviously
pleased," said Richard Berthelsen, the NFLPA's general counsel.
"We do wish, for Daunte's sake, that his free agency could have
happened sooner, but we look forward to his having a great season
with a new team."
Miami acquired Culpepper before the 2006 season, even though the
6-foot-4, 265-pound quarterback was coming off major surgery to
rebuild his right knee, which he shredded the previous year while
playing with the Minnesota Vikings. Culpepper was cleared to start
last season's opener with the Dolphins, but struggled with his
mobility and was sacked 21 times in the first four games.
He didn't play again with the Dolphins, who shut him down so he
could continue rehabbing and eventually placed him on injured
reserve. Culpepper continued to train and vowed to be ready for
this season, yet the Dolphins and new coach Cam Cameron decided
Green would be a better fit for the offense.
Green made his practice-field debut with Miami on June 8, the
same week where team doctors told Culpepper he was finally ready to
resume full workouts with the team -- an announcement that was
quickly tinged in irony. Culpepper said Dolphins' quarterback coach
Terry Shea said during that minicamp practice he wouldn't be
allowed to take snaps with the regular offense and was limited to
So Culpepper walked off the field as Green and other
quarterbacks worked against Miami's defense, correctly predicting
that would be his last workout with the full team.
"It's sad that it didn't work out for Daunte," Dolphins
running back Ronnie Brown said that day. "He's a good guy and he's
worked hard and I think he's been a good teammate. Sometimes things
just don't work out."
With training camps set to open in the next couple days,
Culpepper -- who, in 84 games as a starter, has completed 64.2
percent of his passes for 21,091 yards and 137 touchdowns -- will be
moving quickly to find a new club.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are thought to be among his potential
suitors; coaches there told quarterbacks Byron Leftwich and
David Garrard earlier this offseason that they would consider acquiring
him before training camp if he was available. Culpepper had his
best NFL seasons with the Vikings under coach Mike Tice, now an
assistant head coach in Jacksonville under Jack Del Rio.
"I just hope that there is still a team or two out there that
has an opportunity for a hard working quarterback who is willing to
come in and contribute wherever needed," Culpepper said. "I am
ready to get into a training camp so that I can prepare for the
The Dolphins would have owed Culpepper $5.5 million this season.
It's not known if they came close to moving him in a trade;
Culpepper vowed to block any such moves, saying he wouldn't
accommodate the Dolphins by agreeing to a new contract. His
existing deal, which would have paid him $51.5 million through
2013, made it nearly impossible for Miami to find a team to trade