For Tavaris Jackson, it's quite simple. The Minnesota Vikings aren't giving him a chance to be their starting quarterback, so it's time for him to find a new home.
"It's probably time for a change," Jackson told The Star Tribune on Tuesday. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to play up here the last five years. ... (But) I'm not trying to be a backup. I'm trying to go somewhere where I have a chance, and I don't feel like I'd get that chance here. It's time to move on. No hard feelings or anything. It's a business."
When the Vikings selected Jackson in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, he was viewed as a raw player who had the skills to develop into a star. But Jackson never found consistent success as a starter in 2007 or 2008, and he was moved into the background when the team acquired Brett Favre before the 2009 season.
Favre's retirement ostensibly opened the door for Jackson to return to a starting role in 2011, but the Vikings showed their hand when they drafted Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder 12th overall in April. Minnesota didn't offer Jackson a contract before the NFL lockout, another sign the team had moved on at quarterback.
The decision to draft Ponder was met with derision from some Vikings fans, and Jackson says he can sympathize with how Ponder may feel about that.
"Since Day 1, I don't really think I was really welcome here anyways, because nobody really knew who I was, being from a smaller school," said Jackson, who attended Alabama State. "A lot more things probably play into it, too. It's just the way things are. I can't help that."
Asked to elaborate on his comments about the fans, Jackson added: "Just the way things happened, like the way I was thrown into there, the way where it was me or Brett (Favre) or all this stuff. Just a lot of different things played into it that kind of soured our relationship. Fans are going to be fans."
On-field performance likely also played a role in Jackson's reception from fans. He was 10-11 in 21 starts with the Vikings, including the playoffs, and he threw 24 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions.
Jackson, 28, is moving forward, and he has been participating in workouts organized by Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald at the University of Minnesota. He has been moving well in the workouts, according to the Star Tribune, and appears fully healed from the foot injury that put him on injured reserve at the end of last season.
Jackson is talking like a player who knows his career is at the crossroads, and he's trying to do something about it.
"This reminds me of me transferring from Arkansas to Alabama State," he said. "Like (I have a) sour taste left in my mouth. It really, really motivated me to try to get to the NFL, and it really motivated me to try to be the best. I think this situation, the ways things happened here, it adds a lot of fuel to the fire."