New Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier finished assembling his coaching staff this week, as Mike Singletary was hired as linebackers coach/assistant head coach and Bill Musgrave was brought aboard to be offensive coordinator, among others.
Perhaps the most interesting hire by Frazier was Craig Johnson, formerly of the Tennessee Titans, as the Vikings' new quarterback coach. Johnson had been with the Titans since 2002 and had the enigmatic Vince Young as one of his pupils for each of the player's four NFL seasons. When asked recently, Johnson said Young's future is "still to be written."
Titans owner Bud Adams has already announced that Young will not be back with the team in 2011, and since the team announced head coach Jeff Fisher will be back next season it stands to reason Young will be playing elsewhere. Fisher and Young had well-publicized differences, and the Titans have clearly chosen the coach at this point.
The Vikings, as is fairly obvious, have a need a major need at quarterback that should be addressed in some fashion this offseason. The past two seasons of flirtation with Brett Favre, in part, have left the team without a solution under center for 2011 and beyond.
Since Young will be available, whether he is traded or simply released is really the only question for any team that may be interested in bringing him aboard.
Since he is due a $4.25 million bonus in March and a $8.5 million in base salary for 2011, the Vikings may be unwilling to make a trade and just wait for him to be released. The Vikings simply may be unwilling to part with a valuable draft pick to acquire an unpredictable player such as Young.
Young clearly has talent, as his collegiate career at the University of Texas, 2006 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and two career Pro Bowl selections can attest. But he has had some notable incidents during his five-year career, including throwing his jersey into the seats this past season after being injured and benched in a game against the Washington Redskins. He clearly seems to have maturity issues and has trouble handling adversity.
That said, Johnson's prior relationship with Young (and seeing his ups and downs, as it were) should allow him to lend his insight to the Vikings front office and to Frazier as well.
Given the fact Johnson appears optimistic about Young makes it practically certain he would give a positive recommendation and also make it clear he can and will work with Young. In all reality, it would be hard to argue with Johnson's assertion (assuming it does come) that he can work with and mold Young.
I, as fan, hope the Vikings do not entertain the idea of acquiring Vince Young. I feel the potential downside, which could be huge if he continues to have meltdowns, far exceeds any upside the No. 3 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft would bring.
But I do feel the Vikings should leave no stone unturned in their search for a quarterback, and Young is likely to be among the best quarterbacks available. I feel there are better options, at least options with a lot less downside, potentially available via trade (Kyle Orton? Carson Palmer?), free agency (Donovan McNabb?) or even via the NFL Draft this April (Jake Locker?).