Tarvaris Jackson spoke to the media for the first time Monday since he went on injured reserve because of a turf toe injury suffered against the New York Giants on Dec. 13. Jackson had a walking boot on his right foot in the locker room.
Jackson is set to become a free agent in March and the Vikings quarterback sounded like a guy who doesn't expect to be back.
"I don’t even know how to feel [as a free agent]," he said. "Usually I’m always on the other side looking at guys like, ‘Dang, I might not even see this guy next year.’ Now I’m that guy that’s probably going to be gone. It’s a little different, but it’s part of the game. I’m not upset or disappointed with the situation. I was kind of disappointed last year that I didn’t have a chance to be unrestricted. But I am now so I guess we’ll just see what happens."
With Brett Favre retiring, it seems likely the team will look for a franchise quarterback in the draft. Coach Leslie Frazier talked last week about the importance of stabilizing the quarterback position when he was asked about the team's top priorities for next season.
Given Jackson's history here and the fact that Brad Childress is no longer part of the organization, it seems highly unlikely that Jackson will return for a sixth season. He sounded ready for a new start as well.
"The grass isn’t always greener on the other side," Jackson said. "But it wasn’t pretty green on this side either. I guess we’ll see. With the guys we have on our offense, I’d love to come play with these guys but we already know how it is. A fresh start might be good. I’m just looking forward to my career in the future. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better these last couple of years. The past two years -- I’m not going to say wasted two years of my career -- I’ve learned a lot in these past two years but as far as playing, I didn’t play. I’m just going to move forward."
Jackson's career was marked by inconsistency and he never developed into the franchise quarterback that Childress envisioned when the team selected him in the second round in 2006.
Jackson's performances were up and down; he was benched in 2008 and spent the past two seasons as Brett Favre's backup. Jackson smiled when asked how he'll look back at his time in Minnesota.
"I don’t know," he said. "I had some great times here. I had fun here. I got some good teammates and some guys I’ll probably be in touch with. Some guys you won’t. Hopefully I’ll look back and just think of the good times, the times I had with my teammates. We won a lot of football games here. It was fun. It was my first experience in the NFL, came here as a rookie and now I feel like an old man. When I first came in I was a young guy and now I feel kind of old, 27 years old. That ain’t too old is it?"
Jackson has expressed frustration at different times the past few years about his situation. He was asked if he felt appreciated around Winter Park.
"I’m not going to comment on that," he said. "I have mixed feelings about a lot of stuff, but I’m not bitter or anything. I understand it’s how stuff happens. I understand for everybody in this league it’s not going to happen the way you want it to happen all the time. They took a chance on me in the second round and I appreciate that. As far as feeling valued or anything like that, you guys were around. You can kind of see my career, how it happened. You can probably speak for that."