Does Favre bring enough upside to Vikings?

It’s universally agreed that Brett Favre will improve the Vikings once he decides to become their starting quarterback. But there seems to be a shortage of hard evidence when attempting to quantify just how much better he will make the team upon his arrival.

Will Favre help the Vikings improve upon their 10 wins from last season? Can he do better than winning the NFC North title, as the team did in 2008 with Gus Frerotte (11 starts) and Tarvaris Jackson (five starts) under center? Will Favre help move the team beyond the first round of the playoffs come January?

Unless the answer is yes to all of the above questions, one might ask: Is it worth the risk to take a one-year flier on the aging future Hall of Fame quarterback?

The upside to adding Favre is a possible Super Bowl title. The downside for coach Brad Childress, should the Vikings fall short of a trip to Miami, could result in him suffering the same fate as Eric Mangini did with the New York Jets. If Favre’s arm doesn’t hold up and deliver in December, which was the case last year, the Vikings clearly will have gambled and lost.

Taking such a risk isn’t a unanimous decision among the Vikings’ front office, coaching staff or even with the players. Once Favre arrives in Minnesota, a line will be drawn through the team. While it could be hidden until the first sign of late-season adversity, tensions will run high until success or failure is revealed.

Even by his own admission, the soon-to-be-40-year-old Favre isn’t the same quarterback who could carry a team for an entire season, as he did when he was much younger. The concern that his surgically repaired arm might give out before season’s end is a valid one. Favre can still play, but at what level and for how long? With so many questions and so many doubters — even within the Vikings — one might wonder if the team is chasing fool’s gold instead of a Super Bowl title.

It is a team with talent to spare. The Vikings arguably have the best combination of offensive and defensive lines in the NFL. And there is no arguing that Adrian Peterson is the best running back. The team’s expectations of winning it all are very realistic. However, instead of waiting for Favre to show up and carry the team to glory, this talented squad better be ready to carry Favre when the critical moments arrive late in the season.

— Solomon Wilcots

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