Ketchman: Release or Trade Culpepper -- Now

Detroit Lions QB Daunte Culpepper (getty)

Veteran backup quarterbacks, in the final year of a contract are a luxury. After naming Matthew Stafford the team's starter, Detroit must make a move on Daunte Culpepper -- and soon, according to Detroit Lions capologist George Ketchman.

Exclusive to our premium subscribers: George Ketchman, our resident salary cap expert, regularly updates his Lions cap blog, located on the RoarReport.com forums. Read now.

On Monday, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz made his decision and named Matthew Stafford as the starting quarterback. Schwartz also reiterated that "This isn't an internship; this isn't a trial basis. He's our starting quarterback."

In regards to what to do with a highly drafted rookie QB, there are strong beliefs on both sides of the equation. Both sides have plenty of intelligent football people supporting their arguments and there is plenty of data of how previously highly drafted rookie QB's have faired. But all of that is irrelevant: Matthew Stafford is the starting QB of the Detroit Lions. It is his team. Sink or swim, he's Detroit's guy.

The decision has been made and it is what it is. If you are confident your boat floats, don't take the life preserver. Trade or cut veteran Daunte Culpepper by the weekend. Why the weekend? Because on Saturday his salary will become guaranteed. He's got some value, see if you can get something for him . . . A defensive player (Detroit need them), a draft pick (the Lions could use a few).

The Lions defense will struggle in 2009, and anyone that doesn't believe that is being naive. And when Stafford is asked to make up for the defense's shortcomings, he's going to make some errors. And when he does, the media will ask questions, first to the coach, then to the QB. If there isn't a viable solution at backup QB, then the questions will be limited.

Let's not forget that Daunte has been a popular guy with teammates and I'm sure that he's got more than his fair share of supporters in the locker room.

They've seen him work hard all offseason, they've seen him cut 40-plus pounds, they've seen him do everything that has been asked. There are plenty of veteran players that don't like seeing a job given to a rookie. And whether you think Culpepper should be starting or Stafford, you can't argue that it is a close decision. And if it is a close decision, you have to keep the distractions out of the locker room and make the team truly Staffords and trade Culpepper.

Stafford may get hurt, that's the reality of the position. But Stanton will be healthy in a couple of weeks and there are plenty of veteran "minimum salary" QB's available. Gus Frerotte has played in Linehan's system before. Brooks Bollinger didn't look bad when he played, albeit against second and third stringers.

Not only will you get a pick or a player to help the team immediately, but you will save plenty of money that can be spent elsewhere. There have been several reports on Daunte Culpepper's contract, but as near as I can tell, any trade (or outright release) before his salary becomes guaranteed Tuesday afternoon would save Detroit $3.75 million in cap space.

That's enough dough to bring in a minimum salary backup QB and sign/trade for a solid starting defensive player.

Veteran backup QB's, in the final year of a contract are a luxury, draft picks to improve the team next year and starting/role playing defensive players are a necessity.

Exclusive to our premium subscribers: George Ketchman, our resident salary cap expert, regularly updates his Lions cap blog, located on the RoarReport.com forums. Read now.

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