Look, I have absolutely no clue if Brett Favre will return to the NFL for next season. I’m pretty sure Favre himself has no idea, either, despite saying right after the Vikings’ NFC title game loss to the Saints that he was “highly unlikely” to return. But let’s not take the word of probably the most wishy-washy athlete in pro sports history.
But you can already bet on whether Favre will play in Week 1 of the 2010 season, so I’ll just give you the facts and let you decide (OK, maybe a few opinions). The odds on BetUS are -110 that Favre will play in Week 1 and -130 that he won’t.
(As an aside, if Favre were to retire, that might severely limit the recently retired Kurt Warner’s chances of being a first-ballot Hall of Famer in five years, because Favre would no doubt need to stand alone in voters’ eyes as the only first-time eligible quarterback in his Hall class unless Peyton Manning or Tom Brady somehow retires the same season as No. 4.)
Obviously everyone expects Favre to play next year. He had one of his best statistical seasons in 2009 and the Vikings should be a Super Bowl contender again – they really should have beaten the Saints to get there this season. And I’m sure Favre doesn’t want his late-career legacy to be remembered as throwing crucial interceptions that eventually cost his team the past two NFC Championship Games in which he played.
Remember, too, that next season is likely to be an uncapped year in the NFL. Vikings fans could be salivating at that, thinking their team could spend like crazy to surround Favre with an all-star cast for his final season. Ah, but hold on. All eight teams that played in the divisional playoff round this season face restrictions on signing free agents in an uncapped year, and the four who played in the championship games are severely restricted.
In a nutshell, the Vikings, Saints, Colts and Jets can only sign the number of free agents equal to the total number of their own free agents who signed with other teams. And they can’t sign a single unrestricted free agent unless one of their UFAs signs with another team, and then only for a salary that doesn’t exceed the UFA they lost (the four divisional round losers can at least sign one UFA even if one of theirs doesn’t leave, albeit at it a capped number). At least I think I am reading that right.
Confusing? Basically the uncapped system penalizes the very good teams so they can’t monopolize the free-agent market and turn 2010 into a top-heavy league (hint, hint, Jerry Jones). So long story short, the Vikings won’t be able to go crazy in the open market. But they also may not need much more than tinkering with the current roster.
Meanwhile, a group of fans and a radio station in Minnesota are doing their best to lure Favre back. Each recently rented billboard space in Favre’s hometown of Hattiesburg, Miss., saying thanks for 2009 and also expressing how much they want him back next season.
The Vikings would like to know fairly soon, because the NFL trading window opens on March 5 – there’s has been talk of Minnesota trying to get Philly’s Donovan McNabb if Favre retires. And really there’s no point of Favre dragging this out because he already has a contract and is on the team he wants to be on; remember, he was technically still a Jet when last season ended. In addition, while Favre was battered following the Saints loss, his arm/shoulder seemed to make it through the season OK, and that was his main concern in coming back in 2009.
Minnesota’s odds on Bodog to win Super Bowl XLV are 12/1, which are tied with Dallas and Green Bay (the Vikings were a combined 3-0 against them this season) for the second-shortest in the NFC behind the champion Saints. Obviously Minnesota’s will jump if Favre calls it quits.
And while I’m not sure the Vikings’ schedule has anything to do with Favre’s decision, check it out all the same: Home -- Dallas, New York Giants, Buffalo, Miami, Arizona, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay; Away -- Philadelphia, Washington, New England, New York Jets, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay.
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Obviously there hasn’t been any player movement yet in the NFL, but that appears to be a very tough schedule (especially on the road), meaning the road to another NFC title game might be even tougher in 2010 if Favre returns for a 20th season.
But your guess is as good as mine.