The Vikings made an interesting move by signing former Cowboys quarterback Drew Henson to their practice squad Wednesday. One figures the relationship will end when Tarvaris Jackson is ready to return from a knee injury. That, however, is only an assumption.
Remember, Vikings coach Brad Childress prides himself on his work with quarterbacks and maybe he sees something in Henson he likes. Childress isn’t afraid to make a roster move and juggle things, so if he feel Henson can help long term it might not be a given that the one-time Michigan standout will be jettisoned when Jackson is ready.
If nothing else, this seems like a very smart move by Henson. A flop in Dallas, there were other NFL teams interested in the 26-year-old. He worked out for Miami this week. As a member of the Vikings practice squad, though, Henson will get an opportunity to fly below radar and try to restore the confidence he lost in Dallas.
Henson, who left college early to pursue a career in big-league baseball, decided to return to football in 2004, amid much fanfare. Henson’s rights were owned by Houston because the Texans had selected him in the sixth-round of the 2002 draft. But the Texans already had David Carr at quarterback and dealt Henson to the Dallas Cowboys for a third-round draft pick.
He signed an eight-year contract that included $3.5 million in guaranteed money and plenty of expectations. The guaranteed cash was the most ever given a sixth-round pick. In two seasons with the Cowboys, Henson got into seven games (all in 2004) and completed 10 of 18 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. His only start came on Thanksgiving Day of 2004 in place of the injured Vinny Testaverde. However, Henson was replaced by Testaverde at halftime of that game.
Henson was the Cowboys’ No. 3 quarterback for all 16 games last season, meaning he was on the inactive list. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells decided to cut him in late August, keeping Matt Baker as his No. 3 quarterback behind Drew Bledsoe and Tony Romo. According to reports, Dallas did shop Henson but found no takers.
“I don’t keep players that I don’t think can play for us,” Parcells told the Associated Press in August. “We tried very diligently with this guy.”
Obviously, Dallas liked Henson at one time and the guess here is the Vikings think they can get far more out of him than the Cowboys did. In Henson’s case, though, being in an environment with little to no pressure might be the key.
“It didn’t workout for him for whatever reason in Dallas,” Childress said. “But he’s got a strong arm, he’s big in stature and he’s got a good mind. He’s very smart, very intelligent.”
The 6-4, 235-pound Henson also has shown a desire to improve. He played in NFL Europe this spring with the Rhein Fire but suffered a knee injury in the season’s seventh week. He finished the NFLE season as the league’s second-rated quarterback (84.2) and was second in attempts (203), completions (109) and yards (1,321). He tied for the second-most touchdowns (10).
Most football fans remember Henson from his three seasons at Michigan. During that time, he completed 214 of 374 passes for 2,946 yards and 24 touchdowns. His passer rating was the fifth best in school history. Henson left Michigan after his junior season to sign a six-year, $17 million deal with the Yankees. The third baseman was called up to the big leagues in September of 2002 and 2003. He was 1-for-9 in eight big-league games.