Finally filling their need for a veteran presence on the quarterback depth chart, the Minnesota Vikings acquired much-traveled
Kelly Holcomb from the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday afternoon in exchange for a sixth-round choice in the 2009 draft.
The deal ended speculation that Holcomb, made expendable by the Eagles' selection of Kevin Kolb in the second round of this year's draft, would be traded.
Holcomb, 34, was acquired by Philadelphia in the March trade with Buffalo that netted the Eagles two-time Pro Bowl linebacker
Takeo Spikes. On the day the trade was completed, Eagles team president Joe Banner told ESPN.com that it was possible Philadelphia could eventually deal the veteran passer to another team under certain circumstances.
With the development of Kolb, who has been excellent at times in preseason, and the presence of six-year veteran A.J. Feeley as the primary backup to Donovan McNabb, it was clear that the Eagles could not retain Holcomb for the regular season.
Adding Holcomb provides the Vikings a quality backup to starter Tarvaris Jackson, and a possible alternative if the second-year pro falters. A second-round pick in 2006, Jackson started the final two games of his rookie season and has been anointed by coach Brad Childress as the regular-season starter for 2007.
"Kelly has been calling these same plays," said Childress, who
brought a similar system to Minnesota when he left the Eagles
before last season. "I think it's really important that you have
the right mix of people in the quarterback room and that everybody
understands what their role is."
Veteran backup Brooks Bollinger, who was expected to challenge Jackson for the No. 1 job, has played poorly in preseason, and that may have prompted the deal for Holcomb.
"It'll help," Jackson said. "He's an older guy. Been in the
league a long time and won a lot of games. ... I just look at is as
help for the team and help for me to get better. I'm looking
forward to it."
Throughout the offseason, the Vikings bypassed other opportunities to bolster the quarterback depth chart. Minnesota did not pursue former Atlanta backup Matt Schaub in a trade, as had been rumored, and did not attempt to sign David Carr when he was released by the Houston Texans. In the draft, the Vikings passed on Notre Dame star
Brady Quinn as he slipped in the first round.
According to The Associated Press, the Vikings also cut Drew Henson, the former Michigan star
quarterback who left school for a multimillion dollar contract with
the New York Yankees. After his baseball career stalled, Henson
tried to return to football, including unsuccessful stints with the
Cowboys and Vikings.
"It's really not as much about Drew as it is about having an
experienced veteran in there, a guy that has won games in this
league and has played," Childress said. "I wish him the best.
He's a great kid."
Several other teams inquired about the availability of Holcomb, but the Vikings seemed to be the team that pursued him the most.
Minnesota will mark the fifth different franchise for Holcomb, who previously played for Tampa Bay (1995), Indianapolis (1996-2000), Cleveland (2001-04) and Buffalo (2005-06). In 34 games, including 21 starts, Holcomb has completed 523 of 810 passes for 5,401 yards, with 37 touchdown passes, 37 interceptions and a passer rating of 79.9.
A former Middle Tennessee State star who entered the NFL as an undrafted college free agent, Holcomb started eight games each for Cleveland in 2003 and Buffalo in 2005. He has two seasons remaining on his contract, at base salaries of $1.485 million in 2007 and $1.535 million in 2008.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer at ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.