Filling the third quarterback position rarely seems all that important. Most of the time, whichever quarterback a team has drafted in the mid to late rounds that year or the year before gets the slot. Usually, any debate about which QB should get the roster spot is largely academic, only mattering to the hard core fans, the players involved in the competition, the coaches, the dreamers and me.
This year, however, things are a little different. In a repeat of 2001, when third stringer Spergon Wynn started two games and played in three, there's a distinct possibility that the Vikings will need to call on their third string quarterback. When you consider that QB#4 is turning 40 years old this year and is playing with a partially torn rotator cuff (which, I'm glad to see, the Vikings are being very careful with) and that Sage Rosenfels has never started more than five games in a season (and thus has never shown the ability to handle more games without getting hurt), it's not unreasonable to want a quarterback that can step in and win games for the Vikings. This isn't 2001--the Vikings expect to make the playoffs this year and they should plan accordingly.
Of course, that would mean keeping Tarvaris around as the 3rd quarterback. While Tarvaris had some of the same issues on Friday as he did last year, he looked very good against the Chiefs second stringers and, apparently, he's starting to recognize the blitz and react accordingly. Is that enough to win him the starting job? Not even close, nor is it enough to win him the back up job, but the Vikings can win games with Tarvaris under center (maybe not playoff games, but regular season games, at least). The problem with keeping Tarvaris around, though, is twofold: first, he's still got supporters in the locker room and secondly, that he's an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The first problem probably isn't that much of a problem, assuming, of course, that QB#4 starts to play well. Winning solves a lot of problems, including quarterback controversies (even if they're only minor ones in the locker room).
The second problem is a little more troubling for the Vikings' long term. Tarvaris isn't going to be in Purple next year, whether or not you keep him on the roster this season. One assumes he'll try and get on a roster where he feels he has a chance to start (and let's be honest--there are franchises willing to give him a shot at the starting job), which he doesn't so long as Sage Rosenfels is in Purple. And with QB #4 being a one year solution (please) and Rosenfels only signed through next year (and the Vikings should not be offering him an extension unless he gets a significant amount of time starting this year), cutting Booty would leave the Vikings with one quarterback going into 2010 and no quarterbacks under contract in 2011. Booty is currently signed through 2012, but if you cut him, that really doesn't matter, does it?
And so the Vikings are left with a dilemma: do they make their roster decisions based on their needs this year or long term? Keeping Tarvaris and cutting Booty is the right decision for this year, but for 2010 and 2011, keeping Booty and cutting Tarvaris (or trading him) is the right choice.