The Vikings have a promising young quarterback in Joe Webb, but they need two more to sandwich around him while he serves as top backup and Wildcat weapon extraordinaire in 2011.
One of the quarterbacks needs to come through the draft. High in the draft. First-round high.
Six of the eight quarterbacks in this weekend's divisional playoff round are in their 20s and are former first-rounders taken between the third and 24th picks overall. Two of them reside in the NFC North. So if the Vikings want to catch up, they would be wise to use the 12th overall pick to get a quarterback.
That would give the Vikings a legitimate long-term plan for a franchise QB for the first time since midway through the 2005 season, when Daunte Culpepper, a former first-rounder who was 28 at the time, had his right knee blown up at Carolina. For the next five seasons, the Vikings' future at the position was handcuffed by Brad Childress' ill-fated belief in Tarvaris Jackson, who proved to be a reach even in the second round.
The other quarterback the Vikings need to sign is a veteran free agent who can start for one season and make the Vikings competitive in 2011. Someone not named Brett Favre.
Matt Hasselbeck could be that someone.
The 35-year-old Seahawks quarterback wasn't on anyone's free-agency radar as recently as Seattle's third offensive play in Saturday's wild-card playoff game. A tipped ball off receiver Ben Obomanu's hands led to a Saints interception and eventually to a touchdown the put the Seahawks in a 10-0 hole. At that point, it appeared Seattle would be crushed as the only sub-.500 division winner and the biggest home underdog (10 1/2 points) in the history of the NFL playoffs.
But Hasselbeck wouldn't allow it. In the best performance of his 10 postseason games and possibly his entire 12-year career, Hasselbeck led the Seahawks back from two 10-point deficits before pulling off the 41-36 victory at Qwest Field. He had four touchdown passes in the first 35 minutes. Drew Brees couldn't keep up and New Orleans became the fifth consecutive Super Bowl champion to not win a playoff game the following year.
After the game, Hasselbeck looked like a man who thought he had played his final game at Qwest Field.
"As a football player, you never know when your last play is going to be," Hasselbeck said. "You really don't. It's tough, but that's just football. You just never know."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has made 277 transactions in his first season. Of his 53 players, 32 weren't with the team a year ago. One of the more unusual moves was the March trade for Charlie Whitehurst, the former third-string QB of the Chargers. Seattle moved down 20 spots in the second round of the draft and gave up a third-round pick. Then they gave Whitehurst $8 million, a lot for a guy who never had played an NFL game.
Hasselbeck, a three-time Pro Bowl player who led Seattle to its only Super Bowl five years ago, made $6.75 million this season, including a $1 million roster bonus.
When Seattle needed to beat St. Louis in the regular-season finale to get into the playoffs, Carroll started Whitehurst even though the team admitted Hasselbeck's ailing hip was healthy enough to play. Carroll then considered starting Whitehurst against the Saints.
Hasselbeck started game day as a perceived has-been getting fluid drained from his hip. Then he ended it the most unlikely fashion, becoming relevant again with a victory and four touchdown passes against a defending champion that had given up only 13 all season.
Hasselbeck, who has played for Seattle since 2001, has said he will retire if the Seahawks don't want him back. But that's easier said than done now that he's proven he still can be a quality starter in a league that's starving for more of them.
As the old pro heads back to Chicago, where he helped beat the Bears 23-20 in Week 6, he is back on everyone's radar entering Sunday's divisional game. Quarterback-challenged teams in Miami, San Francisco, Tennessee, Arizona, Carolina and Minnesota -- to name a few -- can't help but remember what Hasselbeck did Saturday in an NFL game that never will be forgotten.