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skolBookmarkLockedFalling Purple Pain Accountability Thread 2023
Danchat 85 15,281 by Danchat
Sept 24, 2023 18:25:04 GMT -6
Sept 23, 2023 7:07:28 GMT -6 0 Replies
The latest Vikings Report is out. Drew and Ted talk the Risner signing (we recorded before the Cam Akers trade), preview the Chargers game, and don't forget to make your 'Nobody Cares About Your Fantasy Team' pick. At the end of the year a winner gets an Antoine Winfield jersey! 

The latest Vikings Report is out. Drew and Ted talk the Risner signing (we recorded before the Cam Akers trade), preview the Chargers game, and don't forget to make your 'Nobody Cares About Your
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Sept 13, 2023 16:36:22 GMT -6 2 Replies
Someone please tell me about how great the Eagles defense is, I haven’t heard gushing platitudes about them in at least 15 seconds. Yeah, the Eagles D-Line is good and generated a lot of pressure (37.7% pressure rate, 4th highest in week 1), and stuffed the Patriots run game.  And while they were being good and generating all that pressure, Mac Jones threw for 316 yards (3rd highest of his career) and 3 TDs (tied career high) while the Patriots offense outscored the Eagles offense 20-18.  

The 2023 Vikings defense matches up better against Hurts than the 2022 defense and the Eagles can be beaten over the top. To win, the Vikings will need to make some strategic changes, but they have the personnel to do so.

Eagles Offense vs Vikings Defense
The Eagles only scored 18 points on offense in week 1. They weren’t exactly a juggernaut.

But the Eagles offense is intimidating because they have two great receivers and an QB who was in the MVP conversation. The Patriots neutralized both of those advantages with the same strategy. In 2022, Hurts looked like he was playing loose and easy, he never seemed to force a throw because he always had a running lane to take. I did not see those same running lanes against the Patriots.

The knock on Jalen Hurts in 2022 was that the Eagles were giving him extremely simple reads and there were questions on if he could handle more complexity. The 2022 Vikings were exhibit A in giving Hurts simple reads, this 2023 team should present him with more complexity. This is where I think the Vikings approach I saw against the Bucs will carry over. Despite all their aggression and movement, they were able to react to screens and QB runs pretty quickly; they weren’t over pursuing or leaving large chunks of the field undefended.

A major difference between 2022 and 2023 that I’m looking at is which WR should I be watching. In 2022, Devonta Smith was the bigger threat. The Vikings weren’t great against slot routes where Smith excels. With the change in defensive approach, AJ Brown is much more dangerous – I’m sure he’ll get a few 1:1 chances. The Patriots didn’t shut down AJ Brown, but they did hold him to 7 catches with a long of 23 yards by forcing fast decisions from Hurts; if the Vikings can follow that template, the Vikings Defense vs Eagles offense can at least be a close matchup. Even if this matchup tilts slightly in favor of the Eagles, I still think the Vikings can win because…

Vikings Offense vs Eagles Defense
Is change good or bad?

Quick level set: which team experienced more defensive turnover: the Eagles or Vikings?

The Vikings returned 5 starters: Harrison Phillips, Danielle Hunter, Jordan Hicks, Harrison Smith, Cam Bynum. And, Akayleb Evans was almost the 6th starter; he took over as a starter from Dantzler before his season was derailed by concussions.

The Eagles Lost: both Safeties (Marcus Epps and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson), both starting LBs (TJ Edwards and Kyzir White), DT Jason Hargrave. They also lost both coordinators to head coaching positions.

BUT! Don’t the Eagles have a lot of draft picks? Here to talk about how all high draft picks are immediately great is Lewis Cine. Lewis?

[Lewis Cine] Did you know not all 1st rounders are immediate impact players? Even players from Georgia? The Eagles relied more on 33-year-old Fletcher Cox than recent high picks Jalen carter or Jordan Davis. Just because they might have great careers doesn’t mean they are fully ready for this one early game.

Also, Nakobe Dean and Reed Blankenship were injured week 1, so their LB and Safety positions are even thinner. Their most used DT, Fletcher Cox was hurt too.

I bring up all this change because I asked if change is good or bad. It depends where you start. By yardage, the Vikings were the #31 defense last year; the Eagles were #3. Change is great when you need to get better, but the Eagles were already pretty good before they changed a bunch of things, so they have a huge risk for negative regression.

The one position on defense the Eagles didn’t turn over is CB; where both Darius Slay and James Bradbury are over 30. Also, in the secondary, Patriots WR Kendrick Bourne was manipulating new Eagle’s safety Reed Blankenship all game long. Hunter Henry was getting free down the field.

This entire recap of the Eagles defense is to highlight one simple point: they have a lot of chaos on defense… and to organize all this chaos, they brought in new senior defensive assistant: Matt Patricia, who turned the Lions to sh*t as soon as he took over, then turned Mac Jones to sh*t as soon as he took over (both improved after he left). They are paying Patricia actual money to enter their facility and tell players what to do… and they have to listen to him.  The 2022 Vikings should be a warning that a good D Line + bad back end = a bad defense.

How the Vikings Can Win vs the Eagles
Hockenson needs to impact the Eagles pass rush and run defense. However, he doesn’t open up the run game by blocking, he opens it up by moving defenders away from the line of scrimmage.

In Week 1, Hockenson had an average yards before reception of 2.8.  The 2023 Vikings strategy was supposed to be based on forcing defenses into a terrible choice. We're going to put Oliver and Hockenson on the field: if you play off Oliver will block your toughest guy and let Mattison run directly at your worst tackler; if you play up, Hockenson will run behind your slowest LB for a chunk play that's basically a long hand off.
When Hockenson averages 2.8 air yards per reception, there is no terrible choice. The defense can just sit on the run with no extra fear of getting beat over the top.

Compare that to Hunter Henry’s week 1 yards before catch against the Eagles: 10.2. Henry successfully opened up the Eagles defense despite them getting a lot of pressure on Mac Jones.

To exploit the vulnerability in the Eagles secondary, the Vikings should throw away any play that has Hockenson targeted less than 10 yards down field; anything less than that is not a good use of a $66M TE. Jefferson (and to a lesser extent Addison and Osborn), are great deep threats, but the Vikings passing game has to use Hockenson to open up space. If the Vikings make a specific effort to get Hockenson going downfield, other things can work; and if they do, I think the Vikings offense can carry the defense this week.

If Hockenson has another game where he averages less than 5 air yards per catch, the Vikings offense won’t be able to keep pace. Get him over 10 air yards and the Vikings can carve up the Eagles D.

Someone please tell me about how great the Eagles defense is, I haven’t heard gushing platitudes about them in at least 15 seconds. Yeah, the Eagles D-Line is good and generated a lot of pressure
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Sept 13, 2023 11:18:25 GMT -6 0 Replies
Due to the short week, Episode 105 is out today! We preview the Eagles game, and hey, go play our season long Nobody Cares About Your Fantasy Team contest. You could win an Antoine Winfield jersey!

And it's the last week to enter the Rook Dog Challenge, you have until Noon CT Sunday to enter your picks for a chance to win a $125 gift card!

Due to the short week, Episode 105 is out today! We preview the Eagles game, and hey, go play our season long Nobody Cares About Your Fantasy Team contest. You could win an Antoine Winfield jersey
Click here to read article
Sept 6, 2023 13:04:18 GMT -6 11 Replies
I think Alexander Mattison needs to dominate this game.

I don’t mean in a run out the clock with the lead sort of way, he actually has to impact the game. Look at it this way, which combination of 2 players are more threatening to a defense?
Justin Jefferson + TJ Hockenson
Alexander Mattison + Josh Oliver

This isn’t a trick question or anything, it’s obviously Jefferson and Hockenson. Every team knows this and will game plan for it. If I were the Bucs, and the Vikings came out with Hockenson, Oliver and Mattison, I’m staying in nickel defense. Cousins to Jefferson, Hockenson, and either Osborn or Addison looks like a far more dangerous threat than any ground game in the NFL.

Bucs Defense vs Vikings Offense
I view the safety position as their biggest strength with Antoine Winfield Jr and Ryan Neal coming off a good year. Their corners are passable, but it’s the safeties that will need to be in the right place to cover multiple WR route combos.

If safety is their strongest position, LB Levonta David is the most interesting, PFF says David was their best player last year. But David is just one guy and he’s 33 years old, he’s not going to defend the entire defensive front himself, especially if he’s facing Josh Oliver or a guard coming to the second level on a regular basis. The Bucs D line doesn’t move the needle much putting eve more pressure on the LBs in run defense, so they don’t change this balance.

The entire Vikings offseason offense seemed to revolve around using Josh Oliver to bully teams out of nickel defense.

The Bucs have: veteran safeties that could function in base defense and a defensive front that could use the support. If the Vikings can’t bully this Bucs team out of their nickel coverage, who can they threaten?

This brings me back to why Mattison has to dominate. You, me, the Bucs and everybody know Cousins to Jefferson is the engine that drives the offense, they have to take that seriously. Even though I just said the Bucs might have the personnel to try base defense, that doesn’t mean they HAVE to. Defending Jefferson first and seeing if David can hold up in the run game seems the their best path to victory - then, only change things up if they start to get gashed.

Against this middle of the road defensive line and so much focus on the passing game, my benchmark for Mattison is 5.0 yards per carry. Better would be 5.6 yards per carry, matching his efficiency in a 20 carry, 112 yard performance against a much better 2020 Seahawks defense. (Note, I’m looking at YPC, 13 carries for 70 yards would be just fine).  

Note: if the Vikings plan to keep the Bucs in base defense works, and Cousins eviscerates the Bucs in the passing game I will ignore Mattison’s stats count that as dominating. But that would be a different kind of surprise.

Bucs Offense vs Vikings Defense
I think the Vikings defense needs to make the Bucs run game look bad.

When I look at the Buccaneers offense, there are holes all over the place. In 2022 they had the most passing attempts in the league, 40 more pass attempts than 2nd place. That approach makes sense when their plan was ride or die with Tom Brady’s last season. That plan can’t translate because giving the most pass attempts in the league to Baker Mayfield (or Kyle Trask) is not a good idea; a QB starting for his 4th team in 20 games with a handful of DNPs is not an recipe for success.

The problem is, they can’t rely on the run because, in 2022 they were worst in the league in terms of both total rush yards and yards per carry. Normally I don’t care much about last year, but with over 1/3 of their salary cap tied up in dead money (most in the league), the Bucs didn’t have the resources to upgrade their offense. So it’s still Rachaad White and his 3.7 ypc leading the way – this time without the thread of the best QB of all time helping open up running lanes. One rookie guard from North Dakota doesn’t change much.

The Bucs offensive line doesn’t look good. Even if the Vikings pass rush looks great, I’m not going to get excited until week 2. And scheme driven pressure doesn’t rely on one athlete beating another, so the athlete advantage the Vikings have with Hunter and Davenport might be modest. And if the Vikings do bring pressure, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are good enough WRs to exploit holes in the secondary.

Since Evans and Godwin are legit, it seems logical to take them away and make the Bucs rely on their run game. Normally I am fine with giving up some yards on the ground in favor of taking away a team’s top receiver(s), but I’d be less happy with that trade off in this game. The Bucs rushing offense looks so anemic that if they start breaking off some chunk runs, it will be alarming no matter the final score. Even if the Vikings win, if the Bucs do better than 90 yards on 20 carries on the ground, I’ll consider that a bad omen.

Bottom Line
The Vikings are one of the biggest favorites in the league for week 1, and the Bucs have all the hallmarks of a team that’s tanking the season for a high pick to get a new QB. No game in the NFL is ever a gimmie, number say the Bucs still have a 1/3 shot to win, but there are multiple paths to victory for the Vikings.

I think Alexander Mattison needs to dominate this game. I don’t mean in a run out the clock with the lead sort of way, he actually has to impact the game. Look at it this way, which
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Sept 9, 2023 21:30:46 GMT -6 0 Replies
Sorry for the late post, but ep 104 is out. We preview the Bucs game, and hey, go play our season long Nobody Cares About Your Fantasy Team contest. You could win an Antoine Winfield jersey!

And it's the last week to enter the Rook Dog Challenge, you have until Noon CT Sunday to enter your picks for a chance to win a $125 gift card!

Sorry for the late post, but ep 104 is out. We preview the Bucs game, and hey, go play our season long Nobody Cares About Your Fantasy Team contest. You could win an Antoine Winfield jersey
Click here to read article
Sept 2, 2023 13:06:52 GMT -6 1 Replies
With the Minnesota Vikings getting down to this year’s 53-man roster, I was thinking about an all-time Vikings 53-man roster.

Minnesota Vikings All-Time 53-Man Roster


Fran Tarkenton
Daunte Culpepper
Kirk Cousins

I feel like Tommy Kramer should be on this roster but I have to go with Kirk Cousins. If for no other reason, he’s always on the field. Kramer wasn’t.

Adrian Peterson
Chuck Foreman
Robert Smith

Dalvin Cook was challenging Robert Smith for that final roster spot.

Bill Brown

Bill Brown’s career was winding down when I fell for the Vikings. He might be the player that I most wish I’d seen in his prime.

Cris Carter
Randy Moss
Justin Jefferson
Ahmad Rashad
Anthony Carter
Adam Thielen

I can’t think of a team with a better receiver tradition. Paul Flatley, Gene Washington, John Gilliam, Sammy White, Jake Reed, Stefon Diggs further add to the Vikings great receiver tradition.

Tight Ends
Steve Jordan
Kyle Rudolph
Jim Kleinsasser

All three were favorites of mine during the time that they played. Maybe (hopefully) in five years or so, T.J. Hockenson challenges for a spot on this roster. He was certainly paid to do so.

Ron Yary
Gary Zimmerman
Grady Alderman

This is pretty straightforward. If Christian Darrisaw continues to progress, he should bump Grady Alderman.

Randall McDaniel
Steve Hutchinson
Ed White

This is as straightforward as the tackles.

Mick Tingelhoff
Matt Birk

It was not difficult to fill the offensive line spots on this roster.


Defensive Ends
Carl Eller
Chris Doleman
Jim Marshall
Jared Allen
Danielle Hunter

HOF, HOF, should be HOF, will be HOF, could be HOF. The Vikings have a great receiver tradition. The defensive end tradition is nearly as great.

Defensive Tackles
Alan Page
John Randle
Keith Millard
Kevin Williams

HOF, HOF, would’ve been HOF if injuries hadn’t whittled away at his talents, will be HOF. The defensive tackle tradition in Minnesota is nearly as great as the defensive end tradition.

Matt Blair
Eric Kendricks
Anthony Barr
Chad Greenway
Scott Studwell
Jeff Siemon

Most of the position groups on this roster are pretty easy to put together. Linebacker isn’t. The Vikings have had several good linebackers. I wouldn’t say that they have had any great linebackers. Matt Blair is arguably the best linebacker to have played for the Vikings. Many might have Scott Studwell starting in the middle. I’m partial to Eric Kendricks. Jeff Siemon had a more decorated middle linebacker career than both. It’s tough to leave off any of the team’s first “very good” linebacker trio of Wally Hilgenberg, Lonnie Warwick, and Roy Winston. Ed McDaniel, Ben Leber, Fred McNeil, E. J. Henderson. The Vikings have had a lot of good linebackers. They just haven’t had the great players like those that played on the line in front of them. Mike Merriweather might’ve been the most talented linebacker to play for the Vikings but his career was winding down when he was in Minnesota.

Antoine Winfield
Xavier Rhodes
Carl Lee
Bobby Bryant
Nate Wright

Antoine Winfield was a great football player. He’ll forever rank as one of my favorites. Xavier Rhodes was great for a few years. I just wish that it was for more than just a few years. Carl Lee was sneaky good for several years. Bobby Bryant and Nate Wright were the corners of my youth. Bryant always seemed to make big plays in big moments. Wright will always be known for being shoved to the ground by Drew Pearson. He was a much better player than that one notorious moment.

Paul Krause
Harrison Smith
Joey Browner
Robert Griffith

HOF, could be HOF, should be HOF, very good. I’d like to have Karl Kassulke on this roster but I went with Robert Griffith. Orlando Thomas was on his way to a great career but injuries sadly derailed his career.

Special Teams

Ryan Longwell

Except for a couple years from Blair Walsh, I’ve been terrified of the Vikings place kicks since the Ryan Longwell years.

Chris Kluwe

It’s only been a single year but Ryan Wright is hopefully on his way to taking this roster spot. Bobby Walden was really good for a few years in the 1960s. Greg Coleman was good for a long time in the 1970s and 1980s. For this roster, it came down to Mitch Berger vs Chris Kluwe. I went with Kluwe.

Long Snapper
Cullen Loeffler

Cullen Loeffler vs Andrew DePaola? I went with Loeffler. Mike Morris was a consideration. So was Mick Tingelhoff but he’s already the team’s center. He doesn’t have to do special teams as well in this era.

Kick Returner
Cordarrelle Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson is arguably the greatest kick returner in league history. It all started in Minnesota. Throw in a few years from Percy Harvin and the Vikings were dynamite on kick returns for nearly a decade.

Punt Returner
Marcus Sherels

Marcus Sherels was on the roster bubble every training camp of his career. He always made the team because he was simply one of the best punt returners in the league.

With the Minnesota Vikings getting down to this year’s 53-man roster, I was thinking about an all-time Vikings 53-man roster. Minnesota Vikings All-Time 53-Man Roster O
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Aug 27, 2023 7:16:12 GMT -6 0 Replies
Hey, ep 103 of Vikings Report is out! I was super busy yesterday so I couldn't post. We announce a couple of great contests returning for 2023. The first, and original, is our Nobody Cares About Your Fantasy Team contest. We explain it in the video, so join us, play along, and you could win an Antoine Winfield jersey. Our second contest it the Rook Dog Challenge--predict who you think the NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year will be, and you can win a $125 gift card.

For the show itself, we talk about the preseason in general, roll out the big board because it's preseason for us too, and of course, trivia! Join us!

Hey, ep 103 of Vikings Report is out! I was super busy yesterday so I couldn't post. We announce a couple of great contests returning for 2023. The first, and original, is our Nobody Cares About Your
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Jun 23, 2023 18:08:55 GMT -6 13 Replies
Whether it be dabbling in the stock market, flipping real estate or something as simple as sports memorabilia, people invest their time, money and resources into ventures with the intention they yield a high return. A $1k investment in Tesla stock just 5 years ago - when the shares were worth around $23/share - would now be worth over $11k. And on the flipside, that $100+ you plunked down in 2021 for an authentic Kellen Mond jersey is worth whatever reduced price TJ Maxx can sell them for on the clearance rack. 

When it comes to investments into players that NFL teams make, the goal is always to win a Super Bowl. But only one team can win the Lombardi Trophy each year and every team is constrained of how much investment they can make into players by a little thing called the Salary Cap. Teams need good football players to help them win, but they don't come cheap and teams that can manage to extract maximum value for what they spend on them will often times be contending not just for their Division and Conference, but ultimately the Super Bowl. 

To help illustrate that, below are the Top 10 NFL teams from the 2022 season in terms of Spotrac's "Value Rankings" (link). Their "Value Rankings" consist of a sum of a team's individual qualifying player "TVS" (True Value Score), which is made up of their current avg salary against production points, which are made up of statistical categories relevant to their position (players need to have played 60% of available snaps to qualify); in a nutshell, it's trying to measure how well a player - and ultimately the team - is producing relative to their salary (ie, managing the cap):

All of the teams (except one, the Browns) that made the Top 10 in terms of "Value Rankings", or producing relative their salaries, made the playoffs in 2022. Further, 4 out of the Top 5 teams were all playing in their Conference Championships: 49ers, Eagles, Chiefs and Bengals. If you want to win, you not only need good football players, but you can't pay out the nose for all of them - teams need to be able to allocate their cap efficiently and maximize the value of good players where they can. 

Notice who's #6 on that list? Per Spotrac, the Vikings are doing a good job of allocating their cap resources relative to the on-field production they're getting from their players. But which players are they getting value from relative their cap investment and which players need to produce more? Let's take a deeper look. 

2022 OTC Valuation
While Spotrac does assign individual scores to players, they don't provide an individual dollar figure of a player's "value" to compare against their invested cap hit. That's where OTC (Over The Cap) comes in. 

OTC has their "OTC Valuation", which calculates the dollar-value being provided by a player based on his on-field performance relative to the current market for his position. OTC primarily uses PFF grades and snap counts, as their article on their "OTC Valuation" states (link): "While snap counts do not tell us much about a player’s performance they are telling us that the coaching staff must see something in that player to keep trotting him out there week after week. Even if the coach is simply forced by circumstance to play someone, there is value to just taking a snap."

I bet most Vikings fans have used OTC a few times to look up a player's contract or cap hit(s), but you may have overlooked their prior season's OTC Valuation figure. Below is Justin Jefferson's profile on OTC - notice the 2022 OTC Valuation figure right underneath the header information:

That 2022 OTC Valuation figure for Jefferson is saying that given his production in 2022 (PFF grades, snap counts, etc.) relative to the current market, Jefferson's 2022 on-field production was valued at $26.7m per OTC. Now compare that to his 2022 cap number of $3.6m and it becomes obvious that Jefferson is yielding just as good of a return relative to his cap investment as Tesla stock would be if you had purchased it 5 years ago. 

While we don't need Spotrac or OTC to tell us Jefferson is out-producing what he's costing the Vikings on his rookie contract, how about the rest of the roster? What was their 2022 on-field "value" vs their 2022 cap hit? How does that 2022 on-field "value" compare to their upcoming 2023 cap hit? Let's take a look.

2022 OTC Valuation vs 2022/2023 Cap: Offense
To illustrate this, I took a stab at estimating the 2023 53-man roster and broke it down by Offense, Defense & ST. I then compared each player's 2022 OTC Valuation figure to their 2022 & 2023 cap numbers and calculated the gain or loss. Even though the 2023 rookies have a 2023 cap, they didn't have a 2022 OTC Valuation so I just left their lines blank. I also included total dead cap when totaling up everything at the bottom, mainly because I wanted to see how much value was generated even when figuring in cap dollars that don't generate any value.

- No wonder the Vikings were 6th in Spotrac's 2022 team value rankings: their offense generated $148.6m of on-field value and it only cost them an investment of $78m, and that's including $6.6m of dead cap. 
- Even with a big offensive dead cap figure in 2023 of $20.7m (primarily from Thielen & Cook rekeases), they're still generating $38.6m of add'l value above their 2023 cap costs. A big part of that is deferring a chunk of Kirk's cap to 2024+. 
- Outside of Jefferson, Osborn and Hockenson gave the Vikings maximum value relative to their cap hits in 2022. Hockenson won't generate that kind of gain in 2023 as his 5th yr option kicks-in (I believe they can reduce his 2023 cap if they extend him, BTW) but if Osborn, Nailor and Addison play and produce in 2023, they could make up for any slowdown of Jefferson's production given they are all on rookie contracts. 
- The outliers in 2022 were Ham and Reagor. While neither is a surprise, if Ham doesn't produce more than he did in 2022, he'll be generating negative value in terms of his cap cost to the Vikings. As far as Reagor, since his 2023 # is guaranteed, the only way to get any value from him is either to trade him or he produces somewhat in 2023 - both seem unlikely at this point. 
- The OL #'s are definitely somewhat head-scratching: Oli Udoh and Ed Ingram giving great "value" while Bradbury generated negative value? I think this is where the weighing of snap counts comes into play for OTC's Valuation: even though Bradbury's PFF scores were obviously higher than Ingram, Bradbury missed a considerable amount of games/snaps in 2022 while Ingram played every snap and I'm guessing OTC really does weight availability pretty heavily into their Valuations. I can see snap counts definitely having some value and being part of the formula, but I would weigh the performance more heavily than the snap count. 

Overall, with much of the 2022 offense returning in 2023 under the same coaching staff, they should perform better than they did in 2022 and it's possible the total offensive value gained in 2023 ends up pretty close to where it was in 2022. 

2022 OTC Valuation vs 2022/2023 Cap: Defense
I think it's obvious without looking at the numbers that the 2022 Vikings defense didn't generate the kind of value the offense did. And since the rookies on defense have a $0 value now, they key is to look at the 2022 rookies who should improve in 2023 and then the defensive free agents they brought in and see what kind of value they generated for their prior teams. 

- If you take away the $20.5m in dead cap in 2022 (primarily from Barr & Pierce), they would have generated more value over their cap cost in total. 
- Interior DL is a sore spot: Dean Lowry generated negative value for the Packers last year since his play was only valued at $2.8m but his 2022 cap hit with Green Bay was nearly $7m. While his 2023 cap his lower for the Vikings, you'd still like to see more productive value out of this group as a whole. I do think Tonga was criminally under-valued here, again, probably due to OTC weighing snap-count more heavily as Tonga didn't play a bunch of snaps until the 2nd half of the season. 
- Davenport's availability (or lack of it) has hurt his on-field value which is the reason for the negative value for the Vikes in 2023. If he can stay healthy, it will be a gain for the Vikings. 
- Outside of Metellus and Bynum, the secondary didn't generate much value in 2022 at all. Luckily, the "Donattell shell" is gone and the hope is Flores - even when giving snaps to rookies and 2nd yr players - can turn this unit's value around in 2023. 

Thor Nystrom recently stated on Dustin Baker's VikesNow podcast (link to that here: link), that the Vikings retaining Danielle Hunter could be the key for Minnesota in 2023: if they're able to keep him, the Vikings could compete for the Division again and possibly get to 10 wins, and if they can't, it's probably a bit closer to a straight-up "rebuild" than a "competitive rebuild"...and the numbers above sort of bear that out. The biggest value gain for the Vikings in 2022 and in 2023 is coming from Hunter and if you take that away, they'll be even more in the red than they already are. Even if Hunter is back in 2023+, Flores has to coach-up this unit to a better level than they were in 2022. And Kwesi's 2022 DB draft picks (Cine, Booth, Evans) better stay on the field, or else their cap - even if it's just rookie cap dollars - will be just like that Kellen Mond jersey you purchased in 2021: a sunk cost that'll end up in a heap on the closet floor. 

2022 OTC Valuation vs 2022/2023 Cap: Special Teams

There's not too much to say here: yeah, DePaola's cap hit increases in 2023, but the ST unit as a whole doesn't cost much and they generate more on-field value than their cap hits. If they can bring in another K that can generate more than Joseph's $2.6m 2022 value - whether that's Podlesny or someone else - that'll just be all that much better. 

Conclusion: "Moneyball"
When the Vikings released Kendricks, Thielen and Cook this offseason and took on that dead cap, there was some concern that perhaps they don't have the on-field production / value to replace that veteran talent. Take Kendricks for example: his 2022 OTC Valuation was $8.1m; no ILB on the Vikings projected 2023 53-man roster generated that kind of value. But when you take into account that his 2022 cap number was $13.5m and he was eating up the lion's share of the snaps, you realize that every snap he took, the Vikings as a whole were "losing" value, and the hope is that when those snaps go to Asamoah and others, they'll be able to generate the same rate of return as they did in 2022, just at a higher scale since they'll be taking more snaps. Asamoah generated $0.9m of net value on 121 snaps in 2022, and if he continues to produce that value of on-field net value with 900 snaps, you've made up the difference of what Kendricks generated in 2022. 

When you put it like that, it starts sounding more and more like saebermetics and what Billy Beane implemented in Oakland in 2001 that was the basis for the popular book and smash-hit film, "Moneyball". Beane and then A's Asst GM Paul DePodesta (now the Browns Chief Strategy Officer) used saebermetics to find find low-cost players than generated on-field value. That's basically what Kwesi is doing now in Minnesota - finding low-cost players (relative to the market anyway) who hopefully generate just as much on-field value as other players who costs twice as much. 

Image was taken from a Purple FTW Video: link

So, how did the story end for the Oakland A's during their "Moneyball" era? From 2001-2007, they made the postseason 4 times in those 6 seasons, won 3 division titles and made one appearance in the ALCS, but they generally couldn't get out of the ALDS and couldn't get over that proverbial hump from just a playoff contender to World Series contender. Sound familiar?

Let's hope that Kwesi's time on Wall Street and with DePodesta in Cleveland, combined with a strong coaching staff between O'Connell, Flores and the Asst Staff, can combine into a successful formula that ultimately yields the biggest return of them all: the Lombardi Trophy...Whether it be dabbling in the stock market, flipping real estate or something as simple as sports memorabilia, people invest their time, money and resources into ventures with the intention they
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Aug 12, 2023 13:04:22 GMT -6 2 Replies

The National Football League and the American Football League agreed to merge on June 8, 1966. The immediate result of that agreement was a unifying championship game at the end of each season and an end to the bidding war over players. In 1970, the two rival leagues fully merged into one professional football league. One often overlooked result of the merger was the introduction of divisions into the NFL's traditional Eastern-Western alignment. Since 1933, the NFL had separated the teams into Eastern or Western Divisions/Conferences. From 1933-49 it was Divisions. From 1953-66 it was Conferences. From 1950-52, the three seasons following the absorption of the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Colts from the All-America Football Conference, the teams were split into American and National Conferences. That bit of nomenclature was foreshadowing of what was to come about 20 years later. After the 1966 merger, the NFL got a little squirrelly with the separation of their teams. Probably due to the lateness of the merger announcement, the 1966 season was more of the same. 15 teams divided into Eastern and Western Conferences:

Eastern Conference
Dallas Cowboys
Cleveland Browns
Philadelphia Eagles
St. Louis Cardinals
Washington Redskins
Pittsburgh Steelers
Atlanta Falcons
New York Giants

Western Conference
Green Bay Packers
Baltimore Colts
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Minnesota Vikings

It was in 1967 that the NFL got squirrelly:

Eastern Conference

Capitol Division
Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins
New Orleans Saints

Century Division
Cleveland Browns
New York Giants
St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburgh Steelers

Western Conference

Coastal Division
Los Angeles Rams
Baltimore Colts
San Francisco 49ers
Atlanta Falcons

Central Division
Minnesota Vikings
Green Bay Packers
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions

This was the NFL from 1967-69. The most surprising aspect of this alignment for me has always been it's delightful alliteration. Four divisions with the names Capitol, Century, Coastal, and Central. Who would've thought that Pete Rozelle and his pals had that sort of whimsy in them? The Central Division is the only division that survived the complete NFL-AFL merger. The good old Central continued until the NFL's most recent realignment in 2002. The four teams of the Central make up the NFC North today. They are the only four teams that have stayed together since the NFL got squirrelly in 1967.

A couple things.

I sure do miss seeing the Colts as the Baltimore Colts. I also like seeing them on the National Football side of the ledger. The same is true for the Steelers and the Browns.

The NFL has rarely been very good with geography. They have gotten better in recent years but how can anyone ever seriously place teams from Atlanta and Baltimore in the West? The Cowboys have terrific rivalries with the Redskins, Giants, and Eagles but they aren't geographical rivals.

The National Football League and the American Football League agreed to merge on June 8, 1966. The immediate result of that agreement was a unifying championship game at the end of each season
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Aug 20, 2023 8:46:32 GMT -6 0 Replies
Drew, Ruby, and I had a ton of fun making this show, with the Wizard of Oz as the backdrop. We discuss the Vikings preseason to date, hand out some heart, courage, and brains awards, and as always we wrap the show up with trivia.

Drew, Ruby, and I had a ton of fun making this show, with the Wizard of Oz as the backdrop. We discuss the Vikings preseason to date, hand out some heart, courage, and brains awards, and as always we
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Jul 29, 2023 13:00:44 GMT -6 2 Replies
Minnesota Vikings legendary defensive end Jim Marshall has been waiting for a Pro Football Hall of Fame call (knock) for decades. With Wednesday’s announcement that he’d missed the cut to 12 Senior finalists, his long Hall wait grows to another year. Marshall has been eligible since 1985. His only year as a finalist (2004) was his final year as a modern-era candidate. Now, he’s stuck in the very deep Senior pool of candidates. Marshall is the former Vikings player many fans point to as most deserving of a Hall of Fame bust. While I’d love to see Marshall in Canton, I see Chuck Foreman and Joey Browner as bigger Hall snubs. Foreman has been waiting since 1986. Browner has been waiting since 1998. Neither has received even Marshall-level attention from the Hall of Fame voters.

Every NFL team fanbase has a player snubbed by the Hall of Fame voters. Every NFL team fanbase feels that the voters hate them. Picking the Hall of Famers is a tough job. The league has been around since 1920. Every decade of it’s existence has players that are deserving of a bust in Canton. Personally, I think that the voters should start with the 1920s, work their way through the years and begin cleaning up the mess that they’ve made. There are many deserving players that have been waiting 20 years longer than Marshall. Anyway, this is about the Hall of Fame waits of Minnesota Vikings players.

Hall of Fame Waits: Years as a Finalist

1st year:
Randy Moss (2018)

2nd year:
Alan Page (1988)
Randall McDaniel (2009)
John Randle (2010)
Chris Doleman (2012)

3rd year:
Fran Tarkenton (1986)
Paul Krause (1998)
Steve Hutchinson (2020)

4th year:
Bud Grant (1994)

5th year:
Gary Zimmerman (2008)

6th year:
Ron Yary (2001)
Cris Carter (2013)

13th year:
Carl Eller (2004)

Jim Finks made the Hall of Fame in his only year as a finalist (1995). While deserving as an impactful general manager for turning around three teams, the Hall voters might’ve been feeling a bit sentimental after his passing in 1994. His immediate induction felt a little early.

Mick Tingelhoff made the Hall of Fame in his only year as a finalist (2015). He made it as a senior player 37 years after he retired. It’s ridiculous that he’d never even been a finalist before 2015. His long wait was a true injustice. He should’ve stood on the Canton stage long before his health started fading.

Randy Moss is the only Vikings player that made it in his first year of eligibility. Adrian Peterson should be the second in 2027. I’m sure that Fran Tarkenton and Alan Page would’ve made it in their first year with the current quick-twitch voters. Still, it’s more than a little surprising that the league’s all-time leading passer had to wait two years and one of only two defensive players to take home an MVP had to wait one year.

Hall of Fame Waits: Years after Retirement:

Three Years:
Jim Finks

Six Years:
Randy Moss

Seven Years:
Alan Page
John Randle

Eight Years:
Randall McDaniel
Fran Tarkenton
Steve Hutchinson

Nine Years:
Bud Grant
Gary Zimmerman

Eleven Years:
Cris Carter

Thirteen Years:
Chris Doleman

Nineteen Years:
Paul Krause
Ron Yary

Twenty-five Years:
Carl Eller

Thirty-seven Years:
Mick Tingelhoff

37 years!

Cris Carter, Chris Doleman, Paul Krause, Ron Yary, Carl Eller, and Mick Tingelhoff should not have seen double-digit year waits. I get that Carter was stuck in a receiver logjam that still exists but no receiver ever caught a football as well. Catching a football is pretty important for a receiver and he was the best to ever do it. His six-year wait was excruciating. It felt like 20 to me. It probably felt like 50 to him. I still can’t believe the ridiculously long waits of Krause, Yary, Eller, and Tingelhoff. Krause’s 81 career interceptions is as near an unbeatable record as there is. Yary and Eller have the All-Pro and All-Decade honors of peers that had Hall waits about a quarter as long. If Eller hadn’t made it in his final year as a modern-era candidate, he might still be waiting in the endless Senior pool. It’s crazy that he was a finalist 13 of his 25 years as a modern-era candidate and didn’t make it until his final year of eligibility. Tingelhoff was the center equal of peers Jim Ringo and Jim Otto. Ringo was inducted in 1981. Otto was inducted in 1980. 35 years later, Tingelhoff joined them.

If the Vikings had won even one of their four Super Bowls, Tarkenton, Page, and Grant are in Canton in their first year of eligibility. The waits of Krause, Yary, Eller, and Tingelhoff are cut considerably. Jim Marshall and Chuck Foreman probably aren’t still waiting. Winning titles do matter to voters.

The Hall of Fame Wait continues for:
Jim Marshall
Chuck Foreman
Jared Allen
Kevin Williams

Minnesota Vikings legendary defensive end Jim Marshall has been waiting for a Pro Football Hall of Fame call (knock) for decades. With Wednesday’s announcement that he’d missed the cut to 12 Senior
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Aug 6, 2023 1:41:33 GMT -6 1 Replies
I find the history of the NFL fascinating. It’s the people that filled and made that history. It’s the happenings between the games. And it’s definitely the games. One of the many things about the league’s history that fascinates me is the number of things that happened back then that could never happen now. These aren’t things that have been legislated out of the game like the “tuck rule,” the clothes-line tackle, and mass-momentum plays. Oh wait, the Philadelphia Eagles are somehow being allowed to do that last one. These are things that could only have happened in simpler times. For example, in the 1970s, Washington Redskins head coach George Allen had a tremendous aversion to and distrust of rookies. His feelings against the youngsters were so strong that he traded away many of his team’s draft picks for veteran players, often very seasoned veteran players. He traded so many draft picks that he even traded some of the picks more than once. Come draft day, multiple teams were on the clock for the same pick. That would never happen today. The draft order, and which team owns each pick, is well known and well documented. There’s no way today that some maniac could trade a draft pick more than once. I recently came across another bit of league history that could never happen today while reading When The Colts Belonged To Baltimore by William Gildea. It involved Y.A. Tittle, Bill “Tiger” Johnson, and an official in a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears.

In the words of former 49ers quarterback Y.A. Tittle as told to William Gildea:

“Here’s another common, little ol’ anecdote,” he related a few minutes into our conversation, speaking animatedly with those thick hands. On October 13, 1957, the 49ers were playing the Bears at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The clock was running out, and the 49ers had just been pushed back from scoring position by a fifteen-yard penalty against an assistant coach, Tiger Johnson, for berating the officials. “I’ve known Tiger all my life,” recounted Tittle. “Played against him in junior high school. Played against him three years in high school when he was at Tyler and I was at Marshall. Played against him when I was with Baltimore and he was in San Francisco. Then we became teammates on the 49ers for six years. Then he was my coach for three years — my head offensive coordinator. Now the referee says Tiger’s calling the officials all these filthy names. I say to the referee, ‘I don’t know who that big son-a-b*tch is, I never seen him before.’ The referee says, ‘You mean that’s not one of your coaches? What’s he doin’ on the sideline?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, but I don’t know that guy.’ So he goes over to Albert — Frank’s our head coach, and he’d heard us arguing — and he asks Frank, ‘Who is this guy?’ Frank says, ‘I don’t know who that drunk son-a-b*tch is, get him out of here, he’s been annoyin’ the hell out of us.’ So two policemen took ol Tiger out of Wrigley Field, and the referee gave me my fifteen yards back. He walked them back, the fifteen yards! Those yards were important and I wanted ‘em. But Tiger was really upset, he was almost fighting with the policemen. He was so mad, and they kicked him out of the whole Wrigley Field. R.C. Owens won the game with a catch on his knees in the end zone with twenty-seven seconds left. And so, man, we were happy. Meantime, Tiger had talked his way back into the locker room and he’s sitting there and we’re all celebrating and cheering R.C.’s great catch. Tiger says, ‘Don’t touch me.’ I went over and hugged him. He says, ‘Don’t put your hands on me.’ He says, ‘I centered that ball to you all those years. I can’t see out of my left eye from a forearm I took blocking for you. I can’t move on my left knee — I’ve had three operations blocking for you. But I’m not worth a fifteen-yard penalty, that’s what you think of me.’ ‘No Tiger…’”

That could never happen in today’s NFL.

A couple decades after that 1957 49ers-Bears game, Bill “Tiger” Johnson was in the middle of a decision that would change the league. From 1968-75, Johnson and Bill Walsh were assistant coaches for Paul Brown with the Cincinnati Bengals. Johnson coached the offensive line. Walsh was essentially the offensive coordinator. He didn’t have the title as there’s no way a coach other than Paul Brown is calling the offensive shots for a team coached by Paul Brown. After the 1975 season, Brown decided to step away from the sideline and run the team from the front office. He surprised everyone when he tapped Johnson to replace him as head coach of the Bengals. The most surprised, and hurt, was Walsh. It was a hurt that never eased. Brown wanted Walsh to stay on as offensive coordinator but Walsh couldn’t accept the snub. He bolted to the west coast and a couple years later was named the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. If Brown had made the right decision in 1976, the dynasty that Walsh created in San Francisco might’ve been created in Cincinnati. Ken Anderson might’ve become what Joe Montana was. It’s a whole different NFL history if Brown had tapped the more deserving Walsh rather than Tiger in 1976.

Neither of these historic anecdotes should be considered a condemnation of Bill “Tiger” Johnson. He was a terrific football player and coach. It just happens to be that his most notable, or humorous, moments weren’t necessarily his best moments.

I find the history of the NFL fascinating. It’s the people that filled and made that history. It’s the happenings between the games. And it’s definitely the games. One of the many things about the
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Aug 1, 2023 19:35:06 GMT -6 0 Replies
We just wrapped up a live show with Drew, Ted, Chris Gates, and special guest Sally Spice. Had a great show talking about training camp and expectations for the Vikings as we approach the preseason and regular season.

We just wrapped up a live show with Drew, Ted, Chris Gates, and special guest Sally Spice. Had a great show talking about training camp and expectations for the Vikings as we approach the preseason
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Jul 24, 2023 12:35:47 GMT -6 2 Replies
Vikings Report has hit the century mark with episode 100. We discuss Jim Marshall making the semifinalist list for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the throwback jerseys for week one, the Netflix show 'Quarterback' with Kirk Cousins, and look at some training camp battles for the offense.

So glad to be back in studio, and back here on Purple Pain Forums!

Vikings Report has hit the century mark with episode 100. We discuss Jim Marshall making the semifinalist list for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the throwback jerseys for week one, the Netflix show
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Jul 30, 2023 13:02:33 GMT -6 0 Replies
Drew, Ted, and Ruby are back! We talk Training Camp and roster news, Danielle Hunter (and someone made a spooky good prediction), go over the defensive side of the ball and try to figure out who is actually going to make the roster, trivia, and some Bad News Bears along the way! And we'll be live on Tuesday, July 1st at 7 PM CT with a special guest to talk all the latest and greatest news from Eagan!

Drew, Ted, and Ruby are back! We talk Training Camp and roster news, Danielle Hunter (and someone made a spooky good prediction), go over the defensive side of the ball and try to figure out who is
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Jul 10, 2023 11:09:58 GMT -6 20 Replies
I hope you are ready for another long and engaging read! This time I'm combining my usual Draft Analysis with a new component we'll examine Draft Grading. There has been some amount of debate about the validity of grading draft picks right after they are made, so this seems to be the perfect opportunity to research that. I won't conclude with a definitive statement on grading, but this can be the first data point... unless someone out there is researching this.

For this exercise, I have taken the span of 2018 to 2020 and chosen 7 teams - the Vikings, and 3 of the best and worst drafting teams from that stretch. Representing the positive half will be the Eagles, Chiefs, and Bills. Representing the bad half will be the Jets, Cardinals, and Texans.

Hindsight Grade Determination

Like my past articles, I will determine the grade each player will receive by two factors - their AV (Pro Football Reference's Actual Value, a stat that gives players points per playing snaps and recording counting stats) and PFF Rating (Pro Football Focus rating that determines the quality of play). I then use a table that judges the player depending on where they were drafted. They will receive a rating from A to F, and this has been predetermined from the big article I published last year. I will show you an example:

For this example, let's take Alexander Mattison. Over his 4 year span with the Vikings, he totaled 15 AV or 3.75 AV per year, and notched a 6 on the PFF scale (below average). Going by the rubric, his AV grade is a D+ and his PFF grade is a B, and I combined the two grades to make a C as the final hindsight grade.

I did the trouble of going through and giving grades to all 160 players on these 7 teams over 3 years - yup, it was a lot of work! But not even close to the end, because I need to compare Draft Grades from the time right after these grades concluded. I have taken grades from two sources - my own draft board, and Walterfootball.com. I turned my draft board into grades by giving a rating based upon the draft pick number compared to my board's total number. For example, Jalen Reagor was #38 on my board compared to being taken at #20 by the Eagles, earning them a D by my grading. Meanwhile, Justin Jefferson was #18 on my board and went #20, and I gave the Vikings an A. Any player who was taken at a slot above automatically gets an A (it didn't happen that often).

As for Walterfootball, they give out letter grades every year, making it easy to plug in the grades without having to do any conversions. It's still horrid navigating their awfully designed website with no AdBlock, though. If there is another source anyone would like me to examine their grades, please let me know!

Finally, I did an Excel VLOOKUP to assign points to each letter grade and quantify how accurate our grading was. For each pick, I calculated the difference between the points of the hindsight grade and my/Walt grade. For example:

CB Cameron Dantzler - Hindsight grade: C+ (3.33 points)
Danchat's grade: A (5 points, difference of 1.67)
Walt's grade: A- (4.66 points, difference of 1.33)

I averaged out the difference of every pick, though I removed rounds 5 through 7 for several reasons - the majority of those picks are busts and one can easy give an "F" to every pick and be the most accurate, my boards didn't have several of the late players and could not make accurate grades, and finally Walt's grading system doesn't give out anything lower than a C past the 5th round.

Finally, the grading scale for the difference:

0 points would be immaculate
1 point would be heavily correlating with the hindsight pick, being consistently accurate
2 points would be exactly in the middle, having just as much right as wrong
Anything above 2 points would suggest an inverse correlation, meaning the grades are more often wrong

Here are the results:

Danchat Avg Diff: 1.64 points off per pick
Walterfootball Avg Diff: 1.87 points off per pick

So I can conclude that my own draft grades have some correlation with being aligned with the hindsight grade more often than not, but not anything crazy. Walt's grades are less accurate, but are still a bit more often right than wrong. I am confident in saying that my grades are not as pointless as some claim, but the data here is not conclusive and would need to be backed up by a larger dataset.

Now, let's dig into some of the team grades and give out some praise / roast some stupid teams.

First, the Vikings:

I averaged a 1.4 while Walt averaged 2.07, so my grades were considerably more accurate - case in point the 1st round CBs Hughes and Gladney were panned by me, while Walt gave them As.

These classes are rather lackluster as you'd expect with a GM who was one more draft away from getting canned, the primary successes are Jefferson and O'Neill. Defensively only Armon Watts (rotational DL) and Marcus Epps (100% of value gained with Philly) got anything higher than a C, resulting in zero decent starters and leading our defense to be barren of talent from any homegrown talent prior to 2022. The strategy of using late round picks as lottery tickets did not fly, as the only Round 5-7 pick to become a starter was KJ Osborn, with Epps and Carlson thriving elsewhere.

Next let's examine the Eagles:

I've sorted this by hindsight grade, to appreciate how much was accomplished with non-1st round picks. Despite their two 1st rounders being massive flops (Reagor/Dillard), Howie Roseman still found several starters in the mid rounds, including Hurts in the late 2nd round (which Walt declared to be the worst draft pick in Eagles history!), finding an Ertz replacement in Goedert in the 2nd, finding a quality pass rusher in the 4th in Sweat (with one of the Sam Bradford picks!), and even a franchise LT in the 7th round! A team can overcome early busts if they can develop their later round picks well.

Now let's check out the tire fire that is the Cardinals, the current (heavy) favorite to be picking #1 in 2024:

Is it any wonder this team is in such bad shape? Kyler Murray, despite his warts, has been the one thing warding away oblivion. His contract extension might go down as one of the worst contracts in NFL history, but as a #1 pick he is a success in being able to elevate the team as much as he has. Aside from terrible coaching, they refused to fire GM Steve Keim (he was GM for 10 YEARS!!) and they were rewarded with bad draft after bad draft. The classes above are embarrassing despite having high draft capital. Even some "successes" are barely so - RB Eno Benajmin was released despite playing well and is a minor success for a 7th round pick, C Mason Cole was far better with the Vikings and Steelers than he was in Arizona, an "F" does not truly justify how bad Josh Rosen was, and while perhaps Isaiah Simmons could be a very good player, for a top 10 pick he plays like a tweener who can't quite handle linebacker or safety.

It took long enough for the Cardinals to reset the organization, but they have a long ways to go. I feel less confident about them compared to the Dolphins and Bears tank-jobs - at least they didn't have a QB on tab for about $50M per year for the next several years (hilariously, they back-loaded the deal to try and win in 2022, making things even worse for them in the future).

Finally, let us conclude with the Bills:

This is a very strong unit, crafted well by the new regime that entered in 2017. The only true early round flop was G Cody Ford, with every other 1st to 4th round pick being a moderate success at worst. Outside of the smash hit of Josh Allen, they hit on several key positions that allowed them to spend their money on other positions - finding multiple CBs, DTs, RBs. Even a few players who did nothing there like Wyatt Teller, Isaiah Hodgins, and McCloud have ended up providing some value elsewhere, a sign that the Bills were drafting good players.

Alright, that's enough for now! Let me know if you want a rundown of the 3 teams that I didn't cover, or any other classes that I could cover... if it doesn't take me too much time! Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.
I hope you are ready for another long and engaging read! This time I'm combining my usual Draft Analysis with a new component we'll examine Draft Grading. There has been some amount of debate about
Click here to read article
Jul 27, 2020 21:53:39 GMT -6 35 Replies
Analyzing Vikings Trades 2010 to 2017 - How the Vikings turned Matt Cassel into Justin Jefferson

Welcome to my latest article, in which I will go through 8 years of Vikings trades, and examine the careers of the players on each side of the trade, and which team got the better deal. I will conclude with some general thoughts I’ve come up with over the course of writing this article. This is going to be a long one, but by now you should know that's just how I roll.
Without further ado, let’s go!

- Text has been put behind spoiler tags for your viewing pleasure -

{2010 Trades}
Sent 1-30 (HB Best), 4-128 (C Jason Fox) for
2-34 (CB Chris Cook), 4-100 (DE Everson Griffen), and 7-214 (TE Mickey Shuler)

What the Lions got: Best was billed as an explosive playmaker, but injuries forced his career to end after only two seasons of play. Fox was a backup center who lasted 3 seasons with the Lions and started 3 games.

What the Vikings got: The Vikings gained draft capital moving down for Chris Cook, who busted completely due to poor coverage and playmaking skills, constant injuries, and off-the-field issues. Thankfully they landed Everson Griffen, who was able to overcome his character issues and started 88 games, recording 74.5 sacks over 10 years. Shuler failed to make the team.

Who won the trade: The Vikings moved down and reportedly got the guy they wanted, but the real prize was when they swapped 4ths and got Griffen. Perhaps if Best could have stayed healthy this would have been an even deal, but there's no question the Vikings won it.

Traded with Texans
Sent 2-62 (traded), 3-93 (traded) for
2-51 (HB Toby Gerhart)

What the Texans got: Houston moved up with #58, getting HB Ben Tate. They moved down with #93, getting LB Darryl Sharpton in the 4th round and CB Sherrick McManis in the 5th round. Tate was a decent HB for Houston in his 3 years there, running for 1992 yards over that stretch, but immediately fell apart once he hit free agency at age 26. Sharpton ended up starting 19 games over 4 years for Houston, compiling 161 tackles. McManis is still in the NFL at age 32! He lasted two years as a backup for Houston, and has been in Chicago since 2012 as a special teamer.

What the Vikings got: Likely the league's best backup HB for a few years... but why did Childress & Co. need to move up for a running back when Adrian Peterson was in the prime of his career? Gerhart added a little value to the 2010-2013 squads, but they had needs at other positions, yet decided that replacing Chester Taylor was more important than anything else, save drafting a CB.

Who won the trade: No question the Texans. Not only did they acquire a better HB when they traded down, but they also got to build depth at LB and CB. Why the Vikings felt they needed to get Gerhart in the door with AP already here is baffling.

Traded with Patriots
Sent 2011 3-74 (QB Ryan Mallett) for
WR Randy Moss, 2012 7-223

What the Patriots got: It would have hurt if the Patriots did something with this pick, but Belichick went for Mallett, a tall and strong-armed QB who struggled with accuracy and had leadership concerns. He was not seen as the future there, as in the final year of his rookie deal he was shipped off to Houston for a 7th rounder in 2016. They eventually traded that pick away in a package deal for #225 WR Devin Lucien and a 4th rounder in 2017, DE Deatrich Wise Jr. Lucien did nothing, but Wise Jr. has 11.5 sacks in 3 years with the team.

What the Vikings got: The husk of Randy Moss, who was promptly released about a month after the trade. The 7th rounder was traded in a package deal for 7th rounder DE Trevor Guyton and a 4th rounder that was used in the 2013 trade up for WR Cordarrelle Patterson. Guyton never made the team and Patterson busted outright, but more on that later.

Who won the trade: Technically the Patriots, but they didn't get much out of the trade. Belichick passed up some better prospects (DT Jurrell Casey, LB K. J. Wright were available) and took the mercurial Mallett. The Vikings really could have used that 3rd rounder for building up the roster.

{2011 Trades}

Traded with Browns
Sent 5-150 (G Jason Pinkston) for
6-168 (T Demarcus Love) and 6-170 (S Mistral Raymond)

What the Browns got: Pinkston started at LG for all 16 games over his rookie year, but clearly they didn't like his play as he only started 8 more games over his Browns career. He lasted only 3 years.

What the Vikings got: Love never made it into a game for the Vikings or any other team. Raymond lasted four seasons with the team and notched 10 starts, ending up with 1 interception and 53 tackles.

Who won the trade: Neither team got much out of the deal.

Traded with Redskins
Sent 2012 6th (HB Alfred Morris) for
QB Donovan McNabb

What the Redskins got: Morris wasn't considered much of a HB prospect, but the Redskins immediately plugged him in as their freature back and he broke loose for an incredible 1,613 yard rookie season, finishing his four year career with 4713 yards for Washington. Yet another reason why teams shouldn't draft HBs early!

What the Vikings got: The rotting remains of a Pro Bowl caliber QB. McNabb started 6 games and looked thoroughly cooked, putting up a 1026/4/2 60.3% line with a 6.6 Y/A and 9.3% sack rate. He was benched for Christian Ponder by Week 7.

Who won the trade: Undoubtedly Washington, as they were able to identify Morris as a top-tier HB right out of the gate. It's a shame he was never given a starting job elsewhere once his deal ran out, but likely that was due to him entering the NFL at age 24.

{2012 Trades}
Traded with Ravens
Sent 2-35 (LB Courtney Upshaw) and 4-98 (G Gino Gradkowski) for
1-29 (S Harrison Smith)

What the Ravens got: Upshaw ended up starting for Baltimore for 4 seasons, totaling 51 starts, 216 tackles, and 5 sacks. Gradkowski lasted only3 seasons with the team and started a 16 game season in 2013, but was only a backup the other two years.

What the Vikings got: An All-Pro safety is all. Smith quickly became one of the best safeties in the league and is still one of the best at age 31.

Who won the trade: The Vikings definitely won this one, although the Ravens acquired a couple of decent players. I believe that trading down is usually a better idea than trading up, but this time the Vikings hit a home run and were able to draft a stud who fell further in the draft than expected. It's one of Spielman's best moves as a GM, and it happened in his first official year as GM.

Traded with Browns
Sent 1-3 (HB Trent Richardson) for
Pick 1-4 (LT Matt Kalil), 4-118 (WR Jarius Wright), 5-139 (S Robert Blanton), and 7-211 (Traded away).

What the Browns got: Paranoid another team was going to move up and snatch HB Trent Richardson, the Browns gave the Vikings a bunch of picks to move up a single spot. Richardson wasn't very good, but they were able to trade him for a 1st round pick midway through his second season. The Colts got nothing out of him as he proved to be a massive bust. With that 1st round pick in 2014, Cleveland moved up with it and selected QB Johnny Manziel... whoops! The Browns were wise to move Richardson so quickly, but they squandered the pick regardless.

What the Vikings got: Kalil was thought to be a franchise LT, but the Vikings only got about two years of good play from. They were going to take him at #3 anyways, so getting Wright (153/2039/10 catches/yards/TDs), Blanton (17 starts, 214 tackles, 1 interception), and a pick that they eventually moved for CB A.J. Jefferson (7 starts over 2 years, 1 interception) was a nice haul.

Who won the trade: The Vikings clearly did, though Kalil didn't pan out as hoped. Getting Wright, Blanton, and Jefferson practically for free was a nice gain.

Traded with Titans
Sent 7-211 (DE Scott Solomon) for
2013 6th (eventually traded for CB A. J. Jefferson)

What the Titans got: Solomon made the team in 2012, but notched only 4 tackles. He failed to make the team in 2013.

What the Vikings got: They moved the 6th rounder for some CB depth, but Jefferson didn't end up doing anything here.

Who won the trade: It ended up as a wash.

Traded with Lions
Sent 5-138 (LB Tahir Whitehead), 7-223 (LB Travis Lewis) for
7-219 (DE Trevor Guyton) and 2013 4th (traded)

What the Lions got: Whitehead broke out in his third year as a starting linebacker for the Lions and continued through 2017, where he then hit free agency and signed a 3 year deal with the Raiders. He turned into a quality starting linebacker. Lewis started 4 games over 4 years for Detroit.

What the Vikings got: We already know Guyton didn't end up doing anything for the Vikings, but they traded that 4th rounder with other picks to move up for Cordarrelle Patterson in 2013.

Who won the trade: The Lions were smart to jump up for Whitehead and dip into their 2013 draft capital. The Vikings got nothing out of this trade, since moving up for Patterson was not a wise move.

Traded with Cardinals
Sent 2013 6th (traded) for
CB A. J. Jefferson and 2013 7th (LB Michael Mauti)

What the Cardinals got: Arizona sent the 6th rounder and a conditional 2014 draft pick for QB Carson Palmer. Bruce Arians was able to get Palmer's career back on track, and the deal proved to be a great move for Arizona.

What the Vikings got: A backup CB and a backup LB.

{2013 Trades}
Traded with the Seahawks
Sent WR Percy Harvin for
1-25 (CB Xavier Rhodes), 7-214 (G Travis Bond), and 2014 3rd (HB Jerick McKinnon)

What the Seahawks got: Basically nothing! Harvin signed a large deal and spent his first season hurt all season, managing a single catch in the regular season, and a kick return touchdown in the Super Bowl. He then wore out his welcome as a locker room cancer, forcing a trade midseason 2014.They paid a ton of money and draft capital for almost nothing.

What the Vikings got: A CB who developed into a Pro Bowler, a offensive lineman who didn't make the team, and a good HB. Quite a nice haul for a single player!

Who won the trade: Spielman got away with armed robbery! A 1st and next year 3rd as a return for Harvin was considered an overpay at the time, and in retrospect it looks even worse. While Rhodes' span of quality play wasn't as long as hoped and McKinnon left in free agency, they still got plenty of value from the two, especially in their 2017 playoff run.

Traded with the Patriots
Sent 2-52 (LB Jamie Collins), 3-83 (CB Logan Ryan), 4-102 (WR Josh Boyce), and 7-229 (traded) for
1-29 (WR Cordarrelle Patterson)

What the Patriots got: The Patriots were able to take Jamie Collins, a prospect who fell much further than anticipated, with the second rounder and were rewarded with some high-level play. They ended up trading him to the Browns mid 2016 for a 3rd rounder. Logan Ryan quickly jumped into the Patriots' CB rotation and picked off 13 passes over his 4 years there, and left for some good money in free agency. Boyce busted with just 9 catches (Belichick has always stunk when drafting WRs). But wait, there's more! The Patriots traded the 7th rounder they received and acquired HB LeGarrette Blount - who became one of their rotational backs and was an effective short yardage option.
For those wondering what happened to the 3rd rounder they got for Collins - that pick was traded to Detroit. The Patriots moved up and picked T Antonio Garcia, and the Lions took WR Kenny Golladay and LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Garcia is still on the Patriots' roster, but has yet to play a game. Golladay, meanwhile, has become the Lions' #1 WR.

What the Vikings got: Patterson turned out to be a bust of a WR, but he was one of the league's best kick returners, and did add some value as a special teamer. He was effective as a offensive wildcard, doing jet sweeps and the like, but never learned to run routes and ran chemistry with a QB.

Who won the trade: Seeing that the Patriots have a couple paragraphs of text, they won this trade by a mile. Belichick happily moved down and took a better prospect in the 2nd round, and found a quality CB in the 3rd.

Traded with the Bucs
Sent 6-189 (HB Mike James) for
6-196 (G Jeff Baca) and 7-229 (DT Everett Dawkins)

What the Bucs got: James was a decent backup HB who ran for 351 yards over 3 seasons, with 4.2 yards a carry and 15 receptions.

What the Vikings got: Baca made the team for a single season but never started, Dawkins didn't make the team.

Who won the trade: The Bucs by default, but even then the gains from this trade was minimal.

{2014 Trades}
Traded with Seahawks
Sent 2-40 (traded), 4-108 (DE Cassius Marsh) for
1-32 (QB Teddy Bridgewater)

What the Seahawks got: Seattle traded down again with the 40th pick, getting the 45th pick. They took WR Paul Richardson, but didn't get a whole lot from him. It took him until his 4th season in Seattle to become a starter and posted a 44/703/6 line, and immediately left in free agency. They also received pick 4-111,but traded it away for another 4th (WR Kevin Norwood) and a 6th (T Garrett Scott). Norwood caught 9 passes over his whole career, and Scott was cut the day after he signed his rookie deal since he was diagnosed with a rare heart condition. They also drafted FB Kiero Small, but he didn't make the team. Finally, they also took Marsh, a rotational pass rusher who notched 3 sacks for Seattle over 3 years.

What the Vikings got: They should have got a franchise QB from Bridgewater, but a freak injury a couple weeks before the 2016 season started prevented him from becoming what the Vikings were hoping to get.

Who won the trade: Hmmm... I'd say this was an even trade. The Vikings paid a 4th rounder to jump up 8 spots for a QB they liked, which was a fair price, and despite Seattle's best attempts to acquire as much draft capital as they wanted, none of their guys panned out as they hoped. Only Richardson ever cracked the starting lineup, and that was for a single year.

Traded with the Browns
Sent 1-8 (CB Justin Gilbert) for
1-9 (OLB Anthony Barr) and 5-145 (T David Yankey)

What the Browns got: Once again, Cleveland felt like they had to move up for a prospect, and once again the player was a massive bust. Gilbert started only 3 games for the Browns over 2 seasons, with many attributing his poor play due to a lack of effort and maturity problems.

What the Vikings got: Barr never lived up to his billing as the 9th overall pick in the 2014 draft, but he's been an above average starter for several seasons. Yankey was thought to be a steal in the 5th round, but never got a chance after spending a year on the roster.

Who won the trade: The Vikings, only by default since they once again gained draft capital and still took the guy they wanted.

Traded with the Panthers
Sent 5-148 (CB Bene Bewikere) for
5-168 (traded) and 7-225 (Jabari Price)

What the Panthers got: Benwikere ended up as a quality backup who started 14 games over 3 seasons and recorded 2 interceptions.

What the Vikings got: They traded down again (see below). CB Jabari Price made the team his rookie year and played special teams, but didn't make the team in 2015.

I'll wrap in the following trade with this one:

Traded with the Falcons
Sent 5-168 (LB Marquis Spruill) for
6-182 (SS Antone Exum) and 7-220 (DT Shamar Stephen)

What the Falcons got: Spruill never made the field as a Falcon.

What the Vikings got: Exum was a decent backup who started 2 games over 2 seasons, and then played the next 3 years for the 49ers as a backup, starting 8 games. Stephen developed into a decent run stuffer and has become a starting DT, though a rather weak one due to having no pass rush capabilities.

Who won the two trades: I think the Panthers made off well with the first trade, as Benwikere was a nice pickup. Meanwhile, the Falcons got nothing out of Spruill, so they certainly lost their trade. As for the Vikings, getting Stephen in the 7th round was a nice find, so they didn't lose either trade, but didn't get much from them either.

{2015 Trades}
Traded with Bills
Sent QB Matt Cassel, 6-188 (LB Tony Steward) for
5-137 (traded) and 2016 7th (traded)

What the Bills got: Cassel played backup QB to Tyrod Taylor for part of 2015, but then cut him midseason. He started one game for the Bills, but did not throw a pass in it (it was a bluff start, as Taylor was the real starter). Steward made the team, but recorded 2 tackles and failed to make any team in 2016.

What the Vikings got: Let's move onto the trades where they moved their two picks:

Traded with the Falcons
Sent 5-137 (DT Grady Jarrett) for
5-146 (WR Stefon Diggs) and 6-185 (G Tyrus Thompson)

What the Falcons got: One of the best pass rushing DTs in the NFL. Jarrett has recorded 21.5 sacks and has been a great pressure-generating machine and is also no slouch in the run stopping department. Getting Jarrett here was an absolute steal.

What the Vikings got: Another absolute steal! Diggs fell due to injury concerns, but he shed those as he quickly seized a starting job in his rookie year and has improved his game every year since. He's become a #1 WR, but has since been traded - we'll get to that later. Thompson never made an NFL roster.

Who won the trades: The Bills clearly lost their trade, as Cassel was no help to them and Steward did nothing with the team. With both Jarrett and Diggs on the board for their 5th round pick, they missed out big time.

Meanwhile, the Vikings and Falcons had a rare win-win trade where both teams made great moves. The Falcons were wise to jump up and grab Jarrett as he was inexplicably still available in the 5th round (at the time, PFF was saying he should have been a late 1st-2nd round pick). The Vikings were also able to sit back and let Diggs fall to them, though they got nothing from Thompson. Still, a great move for both teams.

Traded with the Chiefs
Sent 3-76 (WR Chris Conley) for
3-80 (traded) and 6-193 (DT B.J. Dubose)

What the Chiefs got: Kansas City moved up for a receiver who nailed the combine, but was a mediocre player through and though. His best year in KC ended with a 44/530/0 line.

What the Vikings got: We'll talk about pick 3-80 on the next trade. Dubose was a bust who seemed to be a better fit for a 3-4 defense. He played in one game, the playoff game against Seattle. He then tore his ACL in 2016 and never resurfaced.

Traded with the Lions
Sent 3-80 (CB Alex Carter) for
3-88 (DE Danielle Hunter) and 5-143 (TE MyCole Pruitt)

What the Lions got: Nothing! Carter played just a single game for the Lions and did not record any stats. A complete and total bust for a 3rd rounder they felt the need to trade up for!

What the Vikings got: Just one of the best DEs in the NFL, that's all. Hunter has already piled up 54.5 sacks in 5 seasons, and only 3 seasons as a full-time starter. It's debatable to say that "the Vikings waited for their guy to drop", but Hunter was clearly not near the top of anyone else's boards after a lackluster college career. As for the 5th rounder, Pruitt made just 11 catches as a Viking and was released mid-2016. He's developed into a quality backup TE and has helped the Titans the past couple seasons, with 11 starts. They probably should have given Pruitt more time on the roster before axing him.

Who won the trades: The Vikings clearly won them both. The Chiefs and Lions jumped at mediocre players, while the Vikings sat back and took Hunter. It's too bad they got little to nothing from the two late rounders gained from these trades, though.

Traded with the Chargers
Sent 2016 6th (FB Derek Watt) for
G/T Jeremiah Sirles

What the Chargers got: Watt has been the Chargers' starting fullback for 4 seasons now. The Chargers don't use him all that often (125 snaps in 2019), but he's a fine role player.

What the Vikings got: A decent backup O-lineman who started 15 games for the Vikings over two seasons.

Who won the trade: It's mostly a wash in my opinion, as the Vikings got a capable backup and the Chargers got a rotational player.

Traded with the 49ers
Sent LB Gerald Hodges for
C Nick Easton and 2016 6th (WR Moritz Boehringer)

What the 49ers got: Hodges started 4 games for them in 2015 and 12 in 2016 and was a highly rated player by PFF. However, he hit free agency with zero fanfare and only was given backup gigs. In 2016 Hodges had 83 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions, so I'm not sure why the 49ers didn't try to bring him back.

What the Vikings got: Easton was just a UDFA at the time, but he ended up as the Vikings' starting LG in 2017 as he pushed Alex Boone out of the role. He started 17 games in Minnesota, but missed the entire 2018 season with a herniated disc. Boehringer gave the team nothing as he wasn't even worth putting on the practice squad. He wasn't ready for American football.

Who won the trade: I'd say the 49ers won by a slight margin, but the Vikings needed O-line help and Hodges was effectively replaced by Kendricks. The Vikings may have won the trade if Easton were to stay healthy and not bolt in free agency.

{2016 Trades}
Traded with the Dolphins
Sent 3-86 (WR Leonte Carroo) for
6-186 (traded), 2017 3rd (traded), and 2017 4th (traded)

What the Dolphins got: A receiver who was not good at playing football. Carroo played 3 seasons for Miami and caught 12 passes. Why the Fins traded so much draft capital for the Rutgers product confused me at the time, and still does now.

What the Vikings got: Oh great, I don't even have a name to give you since Spielman was busy swapping so many picks. I'll get back to you on these, but fun fact: the 2017 3rd we got turned into HB Kareem Hunt.

Traded with Dolphins again
Sent 6-186 (WR Jakeem Grant) back to Miami for
6-196 (traded) and 7-227 (DE Stephen Weatherly)

What the Dolphins got: Apparently they wanted to get pick 6-186 back, so they traded up again to get it. This one was more wisely spent on Grant, a quality returner (2 KR TDs and 2 PR TDs) and a decent receiver (53/635/4 over four years). This was a much better pick than their 3rd rounder.

What the Vikings got: The new 6th was traded again, so I'll get to that in the next acquisition. Weatherly provided 6 sacks as a rotational pass rusher.

Traded with the Eagles
Sent 6-196 (S Blake Countess) and 7-240 (DE Alex McCalister) for
6-188 (TE David Morgan)

What the Eagles got: Both Countess and McCalister failed to make the Eagles' roster. Countess has become a special teamer for the Rams and Jets, while McCalister has never played a down in the NFL.

What the Vikings got: A solid blocking TE. Morgan did well as a part-timer, but he suffered a knee dislocation in 2018 and couldn't play in 2019, and it appears his career may be over due to the injury.

Who won the trades: The Dolphins made a solid trade moving up for Grant, and the Vikings benefitted from getting some quality backups in Weatherly and Morgan. The Eagles got nothing out of their trade down.

Traded with the Eagles again
Sent 2017 1st (DE Derek Barnett) and 2018 4th (DE Josh Sweat) for
QB Sam Bradford

What the Eagles got: Not needing Bradford with Carson Wentz in the fold, the Eagles were able to get one of the best pass rushers in the 2017 class, Derek Barnett. He has since started 20 games and recorded 14 sacks over 3 years, but is most known for his well-timed strip sack of Tom Brady in Super Bowl 52. Sweat has been a rotational pass rusher for Philly, with 4 sacks over 2 seasons.

What the Vikings got: With Bridgewater's knee gone kaput, Bradford was supposed to salvage the season and also provide the team with a starting QB in 2017, since it was unlikely Teddy would play at all in 2017. After a hot start to 2016, the offense slumped and Bradford didn't have what it took to elevate the team with a dumpster fire of an offensive line. He started the 2017 season as the starting QB, had a great Week 1, but then suffered a mysterious knee bruise that wouldn't go away. He lost his starting job to Keenum and was healthy for just 3 games out of 19 in 2017. The Vikings did net a 3rd rounder in compensation (the pick was eventually turned into HB Alexander Mattison).

Who won the trade: The Eagles, by a landslide. Barnett looks to be a league average DE, but his Super Bowl-winning play puts a cherry on the top of this cake. That's not even including that Barnett & Sweat have 2 years of control on their rookie deals. The Vikings were desperate to pay for a QB, and the Eagles were smart to play the long game and give Wentz a chance as a rookie, and save some money by moving on from Bradford. The Vikes really could have used this draft capital to support their 2018 and 2019 seasons.

{2017 Trades}
7 trades over 2 days... oof. Here we go:

Traded with Bengals
Sent 2-48 (HB Joe Mixon) and 4-128 (WR Josh Malone) for
2-41 (HB Dalvin Cook)

What the Bengals got: Despite his off-the-field issues, Mixon has proven to be a capable HB. The Bengals' problem on offense has stemmed from their terrible O-lines, and I think Mixon would truly explode with a better team. Malone has already flamed out, released from the Bengals and is now a Jet.

What the Vikings got: An explosive HB, but a fragile one. When healthy, Cook is a step above Mixon, but he's missed 19 games to Mixon's 4.

Who won the trade: The Bengals win this trade by a little bit, but they wasted the 4th rounder. I like the move to trade up for Cook, but he hasn't stayed healthy enough to prove that he is indeed the better player than Mixon.

Traded with the Jets
Sent 3-79 (WR ArDarius Stewart) and 5-160 (traded) for
3-70 (G/C Pat Elflein)

What the Jets got: Almost nothing - Stewart has touched the ball 13 times in 3 full seasons, spending time on the IR, and while he remains on their roster, he's not likely going to make the team. They traded back with the 5th rounder and got HB Elijah McGuire, a sub-replacement level HB, and DT Dylan Donahue, who made 5 tackles in his rookie year and then was released.

What the Vikings got: It would seem getting an offensive lineman in the 3rd round to start 42 games in his first 3 seasons would be a good thing, but he's become a constant liability in the Vikings' O-line. His best play came from his rookie season at center, but since breaking his leg in the 2017 playoffs, he has been a sieve.

Who won the trade: The Vikings certainly did since the Jets got virtually nothing, but Elflein's recent poor play taints this trade's value.

Traded with the Chiefs
Sent 3-86 (HB Kareem Hunt) for
Pick 3-104 (traded), 4-132 (traded), and 7-245 (DB Jack Tocho)

What the Chiefs got: Initially this move seemed to be a home run - Hunt had a phenomenal rookie season with 1782 yards from scrimmage and 11 TDs and was rolling in 2018 when his off-the-field issues caught up to him. The Chiefs immediately released him when video footage was released.

What the Vikings got: They quickly traded away two of the picks, so we'll get to those. Tocho was a practice squad body who never played a down for the Vikings.

Traded with the 49ers
Sent 3-104 (QB C.J. Beathard) for
4-109 (DT Jaleel Johnson) and 7-219 (WR Stacy Coley)

What the 49ers got: I considered Beathard a 7th round prospect at the time, so it was baffling to see the 49ers jump up for him. Beathard went 1-9 filling in for Garoppolo over 2017-18, with a disgusting 2682/12/13 57.3% line. He's since been passed up by Nick Mullens as the 49ers' backup QB. This is not a wise way to use draft capital.

What the Vikings got: While Johnson hasn't been able to break into the starting lineup, he's become a decent rotational interior lineman. Coley was released in his second season after dropping a critical pass in the Week 2 matchup against Green Bay and did not play in 2019.

Who won the trades: I'll give the Chiefs a win despite needing to release Hunt in his second season, as his play over 2017-18 was 1st round quality for a 3rd round pick. The 49ers were foolish to move up for a pedestrian QB prospect. The Vikings got nothing out of Tocho and Coley, but it's not like they were going to draft Hunt.

Traded with the Eagles
Sent 4-132 (HB Donnel Pumphrey) for
4-139 (traded) and 7-230 (traded)

What the Eagles got: A lightweight HB at 5'9" 176 lbs, Pumphrey was billed as the next Darren Sproles, but spent his rookie year on the IR and then 2018 on Philly's practice squad, just to be cut from the PS midseason. He never played a down for any team.

What the Vikings got: More trades!! Spielman made sure to re-stock the shelves after trading up in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Let's see what happened to these picks:

Traded with the Chiefs again
Sent 4-139 (WR Jehu Chesson) for
5-170 (WR Rodney Adams) and 5-180 (G Danny Isidora)

What the Chiefs got: A receiver who caught 2 passes in his rookie season, and promptly failed to make the team in 2018. He caught 1 pass with the Redskins. He is currently a Jet,
but is unlikely to develop as he's already 27.

What the Vikings got: A return-only specialist, Adams had a terrible 2017 preseason as he couldn't catch or handle the football. A scouting report on him once said that he had "bricks for hands". He was cut a few weeks into the season. Isidora was able to hang around as a backup guard and started 3 games, but he was traded away right before the 2019 season for a 7th rounder, as he wasn't going to make the team. The Dolphins immediately plugged him in as a starter, but in Week 3 he was injured and hit the IR. The Vikings traded down with this 7th round pick again and took DE Kenny Willekes in the 7th round of the 2020 draft, and have a 5th rounder for the 2021 draft.

Who won the trades: Both the Eagles and Chiefs jumped up for position players who offered nothing as NFL players. The Vikings eeked some value out of Isidora... but let's see what they did with that 7th rounder.

Traded with the Redskins
Sent 6-199 (C Chase Roullier) and 7-230 (LB Josh Harvey-Clemons) for
6-201 (TE Bucky Hodges) and 7-220 (DE Ifeadi Odenigbo)

What the Redskins got: Roullier took over the center job midway through his rookie season, and has started 47 games in his first 3 seasons and has been a quality center. JHC is a special teamer linebacker/safety who has yet to start a game, but has contributed 41 tackles (29 solo).

What the Vikings got: Hodges was hyped up as a 3rd/4th round prospect with a great speed and size combo, but he quickly flamed out and couldn't make the opening day roster. Odenigbo failed to make the team in 2017 & 2018 and bounced around with a few teams in 2018. He returned to Minnesota in 2019, however, and beat the odds to become a key rotational DE and recorded a whopping 7 sacks. Very few players ever rebound like this - and now Odenigbo is in line to be a starter in 2020.

Who won the trade: The Skins win this thanks to the play of Roullier. However, with another 2 years of control of Odenigbo, you can't say the Vikings lost this trade yet. It would have been nice to get Roullier over a bust like Hodges, though.

I’ve opted not to cover the 2018 through 2020 trades since they’ve happened too soon to be fully examined.

{Summary of Trade Types}
Trading Up:
Trading up for Harrison Smith – This was a fantastic move that only cost the Vikings a 4th, and allowed them to find a top 5 safety at the end of the 1st round.
The only other trade up I would consider a success would possibly be for Pat Elflein in 2017. While he hasn’t lived up to our expectations, coming away with a starting O-lineman in the 3rd round is not a bad move.

Trading up for Toby Gerhart – Why?! Just why? I understand the concept of drafting the best player available, but how could the Vikings spend a 2nd and a 3rd to move up for a backup running back?! Peterson was in his prime and there was no need to spend such draft capital on a change of pace back. The thought process on this move was completely backwards.
Trading up for Cordarrelle Patterson – I understand the thought process behind this move very well, and I was lobbying for Patterson to be drafted by the Vikings. In hindsight, he was a very raw player and had a long way to go just to learn how to play WR. Meanwhile, the Patriots moved back and gained 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th round picks and drafted a superior player in the 2nd round and another starter in the 3rd. The Vikings could have used those picks to build up the team, instead of use them on a good kick returner.
Not in the article, but the Vikings moved up in the 2018 class for K Daniel Carlson, and he ended up as a bust very quickly.

Summary – The Vikings haven’t moved up for prospects in the draft often, and the Patterson trade highlights the downside of failing at a trade up.

Trading Down:
There’s quite a lot off success stories here. We have the 2012 and 2014 trade downs with Cleveland that had the Vikings gain picks just to slide down a single spot and select the player they wanted.
Moving down in 2010 to grab CB Chris Cook was a success, since it added the 4th rounder that landed Everson Griffen.
In 2014, the Vikings moved down in the late rounds and were able to snag SS Antone Exum and DT Shamar Stephen.
In 2015, the Vikings moved down and selected Danielle Hunter, though they didn’t get anything from the pick they gained from it.
The 2016 trade that turned a 3rd into 2017 3rd and 4ths turned out to be a great move. That move has helped power the 2018-2019 squads and is still impacting the team to this day.

The only true failure I see in these 8 years was missing out on drafting C Chase Roullier in the 6th round in 2017. It wasn’t a total loss as the Vikings drafted DE Ifeadi Odenigbo with the pick gained from the trade, but a quality starting center is something the Vikings needed and could have seen the Vikings spend their 2019 1st on another position instead of Garrett Bradbury.
I considered putting the 2017 move-down where the Chiefs picked Kareem Hunt as a failure, but Hunt’s off-the-field issues nullified their gains.

Player Trades
Trading Percy Harvin for picks – This move was a perfect storm for the Vikings, moving on from a guy at the end of his prime and who had no interest in playing with the team anymore and receiving a load of picks. Even just a 1st rounder for him would have been a win.
Trading Cassel to Bills for picks – This was basically a throwaway trade. The Vikings were able to turn the 5th rounder into WR Stefon Diggs, who, ironically, the Bills traded a bunch of picks to get in 2020.

The Randy Moss trade was a failure when he was sent out of town, and a failure on the reacquisition. The Patriots were happy to accept a 3rd rounder for the WR who was no longer in his prime, and still not interested in playing for the Vikings.
The Donovan McNabb trade is a failure simply due to Washington turning HB Alfred Morris into a top 10 HB out of nowhere. Meanwhile, the Vikings received a shell of a Pro Bowl-caliber QB.
The Sam Bradford trade was a stunning move and was clearly advantageous from the start for the Eagles. The Vikings were desperate and had to find a substitute QB, so they felt they had no choice put to overpay. This helped power the Eagles’ 2017 Super Bowl run and left the Vikings a few pieces short while also contending in that same season.

{Trades That Are Still Alive}
With 8 years of trades compiled, let's go over two categories - trades that are still alive, and what type of trades have the best results for the Vikings.

2012 - Trading up for Harrison Smith
Smith is still with the team, so the trade endures. Both of the players the Ravens got are long gone.

2014 - Trading down for Anthony Barr
Another simple trade, Barr is still with the team, so the trade endures.

2015 - Matt Cassel trade - by extension the Jarrett/Diggs trade
This is where things get complicated, and for me, exciting. Here's a look at the entire haul from the Cassel trade:

That’s right folks – the Matt Cassel trade has led us to a 1st round pick in Justin Jefferson and a whole bunch of draft picks that haven’t even been made yet!

Trading down for Danielle Hunter
Another simple trade, as Hunter remains with the team.

2016 - Dolphins trade up for WR Leonte Carroo
Things get way more complicated here, as the Fins sent the Vikings a 6th and future 3rd and 4ths to take a receiver who quickly flamed out in the NFL. Here's a look at the massive haul resulting from this single trade:

Man, the Dolphins could have a whole lot more talent on their team right now if they just resisted the urge to trade up for a mediocre WR. There isn’t any home run picks on the Vikings’ side, but the sheer number of picks that have branched out from it is insane. With the Isidora trade to the Dolphins, the trade lives on into 2021 and even further.

A trade could conceivably stay alive forever if the team consistently trades the player/draft picks towards the future… so I think it would be fun to revisit this a few years in the future and see what else has branched off these moves.

Point 1: Spielman’s love to trade down may irritate the fans, but the odds favor trading down
If this article has pointed out one thing, it’s that trading down has been a successful endeavor for Spielman and the Vikings. It’s hard to know if the Vikings really are getting “their guy” after moving down, but they’re clearly doing something right, as they’ve traded down for Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, Ifeadi Odenigbo, and Jaleel Johnson. I had to cherry-pick just to find any trade-downs that were clear failures. Moving down has also powered up their trades moving up (Dalvin Cook, C. Patterson). It would be nice to see Spielman stop trading out of Day 2 right as the draft ends… but with the way things have played out in the past, I can’t blame him for his addiction to trading down.

Point 2: Trading up and trading for a player are very risky moves
In all five of the “player trades” I mentioned above, the team that acquired draft pick(s) for the player won. Harvin and Moss had their own issues, McNabb and Cassel were no longer NFL caliber QBs, and Sam Bradford’s passable play and poor health made the trade an easy fail. It’s fair to say that drafting players is risky, but acquiring veteran players and expecting them to continue to play at the level they were at with their original team is just as risky, in my humble opinion. Players on rookie deals hold even more value since teams can own them for 4-5 years on cheap salaries, while veterans getting traded typically hold large salaries.
So in this small sample size, it may seem that trading Stefon Diggs to the Bills for picks was a good move. In the long run, getting a 1st, 7th, and after more trades two 4ths and a 5th seems like a big haul. I don’t expect Diggs’ play to fall off for the Bills, though, as he’s only 27 and has mostly left his injury concerns in the past. The Bills seem to be trying to win now and opted to bring in an experienced player rather than develop a rookie, and I think this was a wise move on their part since their roster has very few holes on it, and the Patriots’ run of dominance is in question for the first time in over 20 years. My prediction is that this move ends up as a win-win for both sides.

Leave a comment about what you think about this article!

Analyzing Vikings Trades 2010 to 2017 - How the Vikings turned Matt Cassel into Justin Jefferson Welcome to my latest article, in which I will go through 8 years of Vi
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Jul 15, 2023 12:02:30 GMT -6 0 Replies
Finally. This countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players comes to an end with the Top 10 players in franchise history. Well, one person’s view of the 10 greatest players in franchise history.

100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 10-1

10. Jim Marshall, DE
9. Steve Hutchinson, OG
8. Carl Eller, DE
7. John Randle, DT
6. Fran Tarkenton, QB
5. Adrian Peterson, RB
4. Randall McDaniel
3. Randy Moss, WR
2. Cris Carter, WR
1. Alan Page, DT

Jim Marshall is the outlier among the Top 10 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players. He’s the only one of the ten not honored in Canton (Adrian Peterson will soon be there). I’m not going to discuss whether Marshall’s Canton absence is right or wrong. I flip back and forth on the topic so frequently that it’s pointless to try. Besides, this is about his place in Vikings history. I have Marshall among the top ten mostly for his importance to the franchise. He was a very good football player but he wasn’t even the best football player on the defensive line. Or the second best. Despite that, Marshall might be the most important football player in team history. That is why his Hall of Fame candidacy is such a sensitive topic for Vikings fans. He was the leader of the Vikings throughout the team’s first AND second decades. He played defensive end for twenty years. He never missed a game. He played in a 12-game season, 17 14-game seasons, and two 16-game seasons. I guess that he needs to come back at the age of 85 to experience a 17-game season. I wouldn’t put it past him. Marshall was incredible. He was always there for his team. Through four Super Bowls and the team’s “glory” days, he was the heart and the soul of his team. The players looked up to him. The coaches looked to him. If only the Hall of Fame voters could quantify that. With up to three senior players making it to Canton each year for the next two years, Marshall’s best shot is now.

The Vikings offensive line has been a problem for so long that it’s a struggle to remember a time when Steve Hutchinson was a part of the line. It’s worth the struggle. Remembering his blocking for the Vikings is pure joy. In 2006, his first in Minnesota, Hutchinson was probably the team’s MVP, certainly the offensive MVP. He was brilliant. That brilliance became his baseline over the next five seasons. The only issue that I have with Hutchinson’s career is that it started in Seattle and ended in Tennessee.

When I was discovering football and falling for the Vikings, I was drawn to Alan Page when the defense was on the field. No matter how focused I was on Page I couldn’t ignore the hulking “81” flashing across the screen. Carl Eller looked huge. I was always intrigued by Page. I think that I was scared of Eller.

John Randle was too small for the NFL. He was too small to hold up in the trenches. He still dominated both. I was at a Vikings-Raiders game in 1996. The Vikings won in overtime. Randle took over the game in the fourth quarter. That was nothing new. He often did that. It was fun to see it in person. He was a fun, entertaining, and great football player. Among Vikings fans of his era, Randle is a universal favorite.

Any player in the final six could take the top spot. Due to the position that he played, Fran Tarkenton might be #1 on many lists. He was the quarterback of my youth. Due to injuries, bad luck, whatever, the Vikings are still looking for a franchise quarterback to replace him. At the time of his retirement after the 1978 season, Tarkenton held every career passing record. He held those records longer than any quarterback ever has. It took Dan Marino until the mid-1990s to finally chase down those numbers. Every quarterback that came after Tarkenton played a game that favored the pass. Heavily favored the pass. Tarkenton played all of his career during an era that heavily favored the run.

In a passing league, Adrian Peterson made it fun to run again. He had games of 224 yards and an NFL-record 296 yards as a rookie in 2007. He was just getting started. The highlight of his brilliant career was his NFL MVP season of 2012. A knee injury ended his 2011 season. He wasn’t supposed to be ready for the start of the next season. He was. 2097 yards. Eight yards short of Eric Dickerson’s season record. Peterson led the league in rushing three times. He could run through and past defenders like no other back that I’ve ever seen.

Two guards in the Top 10. That feels odd. It also feels right. Randall McDaniel and Steve Hutchinson are deserving of their place in this Top 10. In my book, McDaniel is right there with John Hannah and Larry Allen as the best guards of my lifetime. McDaniel is one of the best guards to ever play. His bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame confirms it. At 6-3 and about 280 lbs, he was a little on the small side during his early years in the league. He was very much on the small side during the latter years of his career. He handled defensive players with a unique blend of athleticism and strength. I’ve never seen an offensive lineman that could run with him or like him. McDaniel was a special guard and football player. Twelve consecutive Pro Bowls. He only missed his first year and last year. Seven times, he was first-team All-Pro. He was second-team twice. The only thing that would knock him out of the top-five of this list is the position he played. If I could put McDaniel and his funky stance on today’s Vikings team, I’d sleep a whole lot easier during the season. I’d sleep a whole lot easier during the offseason as well.

Separating Randy Moss and Cris Carter isn’t easy or fun. Justin Jefferson is well on his way to making Vikings player and receiver rankings even more difficult. Maybe we should just enjoy and appreciate the Vikings great receiver tradition rather than ranking them. Nope! Gotta rank them! Moss or Carter? Moss was an athletic freak. Carter was a technician. I suppose it depends on what you value most.

Randy Moss ranks with Adrian Peterson as the most explosive offensive players in Vikings franchise history. Moss is arguably the most physically gifted receiver to ever play. Before his rookie season, he said that he’d “rip up the NFL.” He sure did. The two-touchdown debut against the Buccaneers. The Monday Night thrashing of the Packers. The three touchdowns against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Moss ripped up the NFL as a rookie and kept on ripping all the way to Canton. Moss was a fun, brilliant football player. My second visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was to see Moss’s induction.

Hands, body control, route-running. Cris Carter was the best I’ve ever seen at the receiver traits I value most. Maybe I’d sprinkle in a bit more speed. Hands. It all starts with Carter’s hands. Best I’ve ever seen. When I think of Carter I often think of the Vikings-49ers Monday Night game I attended in 1995. The defending champion 49ers jumped all over the Vikings. More specifically, Jerry Rice jumped all over the Vikings. It was 21-0 in a blink. Then, it felt like Carter put the team on his back and hauled them back into the game. It turned into a Cris Carter-Jerry Rice duel. If you’re a fan of receivers, it was pass-catching heaven. I simply loved watching Carter catch a football. My first visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was to see Carter’s induction.

When I fell for the Vikings in the early 1970s, I was taken by Alan Page. Maybe he was the reason that this little California kid fell for a team from Minnesota. I can’t remember. I do remember I couldn’t take my eyes off Page. I always hoped that the Vikings would open games on defense. I couldn’t wait to see Page. He was a brilliant defensive tackle. He was the Aaron Donald of his day. Page was so quick. He was often in the backfield before the offensive linemen were out of their stances. He was sometimes penalized for that quickness. Then things really got fun. If Page ever felt wronged by the officials, he took his game to an unimagined, unhinged level. During a time when Dick Butkus, Deacon Jones, and Bob Lilly got more attention, Page was the game’s best defensive player. He was league MVP in 1971. A defensive tackle taking the MVP award just doesn’t happen. He was third in the voting in 1970. He was Defensive Player of the Year in 1971. He was named to nine Pro Bowls. He was first-team All-Pro five times. He was second-team All-Pro three times. Thinking about #88 wrecking offenses always brings a lasting smile. Alan Page is my #1 player in Vikings franchise history.

Finally. This countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players comes to an end with the Top 10 players in franchise history. Well, one person’s view of the 10 greatest players in franchise
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Jul 8, 2023 10:38:11 GMT -6 1 Replies
The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 20-11.

100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 20-11

20. Kevin Williams, DT
19. Joey Browner, S
18. Gary Zimmerman, OT
17. Harrison Smith, S
16. Chuck Foreman, RB
15. Jared Allen, DE
14. Chris Doleman, DE
13. Ron Yary, OT
12. Mick Tingelhoff, C
11. Paul Krause, S

It’s time for the Hall of Famers. Gary Zimmerman, Chris Doleman, Ron Yary, Mick Tingelhoff, and Paul Krause are in Canton. Jared Allen could make it any year now. If injuries hadn’t cut into their talent and careers, Joey Browner and Chuck Foreman would be there already. Despite their shortened careers, both have a case that they deserve to be there. Kevin Williams had a Hall of Fame caliber career. Harrison Smith is having a Hall of Fame caliber career.

When I think of Kevin Williams I often think of a play against the Kansas City Chiefs from his rookie season (2003). At the snap, Williams blows through Will Shields, wrecks an attempted block by Tony Richardson, and stops Priest Holmes for a loss. Shields, Richardson, and Holmes made the Pro Bowl that season. They were among the best in the league at their respective positions. Shields is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and rookie Kevin Williams went through him as if he was made of paper. It was an astonishing play. He had a lot of plays like that over his career. I think that he’s a Hall of Fame player. Now it’s up to the Hall voters. Richard Seymour made it last year. Williams and Seymour were similar players with similar careers.

Joey Browner is one of a handful of Vikings defensive players that I’ve seen simply take over a game. There was a 1988 playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams in which it felt like there were about six Joey Browners on the field. He had several games like that. He was an incredible football player. I always felt that he was the safety equal of peers Ronnie Lott and Kenny Easley. Those two are in the Hall of Fame. Browner should join them.

I wish that Gary Zimmerman had played his entire NFL career in Minnesota. His defection to Denver was tough. It worked out for him as he won a Super Bowl with the Broncos. He was just so steady. Pass rushers didn’t get past him. I’m not sure if the NFL was easy for him but there were times when it looked easy.

Maybe it’s a recency thing but I have Harrison Smith ahead of Joey Browner mostly for his longevity and durability. Every now and then, I dream of a defensive backfield with both Browner and Smith in it. It’s a beautiful dream. I like them both so much. Smith plays everywhere. He can play deep, in coverage, against the run, rush the passer. A quarterback needs to know where Smith is at all times but he can be anywhere. He’s a smart, instinctive, terrific football player.

When I first became a Vikings fan, I was so intrigued by their defense. It was Chuck Foreman that hauled my attention to the offense. No back had ever caught passes like he did. At least, none that I’d ever seen. He was such a fun runner. Those spins! Oh my! The Vikings offense was always at it’s best when the ball was in his hands.

It’s a challenge to rank/separate Jared Allen and Chris Doleman. Both were great defensive ends. Today, Doleman gets the edge. Tomorrow, it might be Allen.

The Vikings traded a handful of draft picks for Jared Allen in 2008. It was one of the best trades in franchise history. Over his six seasons in Minnesota, he was named first-team All-Pro four times. He was named to five Pro Bowls. He had 11 sacks in the season that he didn’t make the Pro Bowl. Teamed with “the Williams Wall,” Allen had one mission. Get after the quarterback. He did. One quarterback even ran out of the end zone for a safety to avoid him. Allen had 85.5 sacks for the Vikings. His 22 sacks in 2011 was a half sack short of the league record. It also should’ve won him the Defensive Player of the Year award that somehow went to Terrell Suggs. Allen will join Doleman in Canton. Hopefully, next summer.

One of my fondest memories of Chris Doleman’s playing days was a Christmas night game in 1989 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Going against Bengals all-world tackle Anthony Munoz, Doleman collected four sacks. It was that night that I knew Doleman was destined for a bust in Canton. He collected 21 sacks that season. As a pass rusher, Doleman was a missile. He was also strong against the run. It’s tough to compare any Vikings front to the People Purple Eaters. The late 1980s front of Doleman, Keith Millard, Henry Thomas, and Al Noga is worthy of comparison. So is the late 2000s front of Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, and Ray Edwards.

#13 feels low for Ron Yary. It’s due to the greatness of the players in front of him. Another day, he’s probably in the Top 10. Yary was the best offensive tackle in the league for much of the 1970s. He’s on the All-Decade Team. He has a bust in Canton. He and guard Ed White had Fran Tarkenton’s right side locked down. Yary was a great football player.

One of the sad facts about the great players in Vikings franchise history is that few played their entire career in Minnesota. Mick Tingelhoff is the team’s only Hall of Fame player that played zero games for another team. He was arguably the league’s best center through the 1960s. He earned first-team All-Pro five times. He was named to six Pro Bowls. He played the center position so well that he even earned some votes for Rookie of the Year in 1962. Centers of Tingelhoff’s era often had a full-game war with the opposing team’s middle linebacker. His peak years were the peak years of Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, and Joe Schmidt. Those three Hall of Famers were three of the best middle linebackers to ever play. Tingelhoff battled each twice a season and excelled. I wish that he’d received his deserved Hall of Fame recognition much earlier in his life.

Paul Krause’s 81 career interceptions is an NFL record that may never be broken. Bud Grant made things simple for Krause. “Don’t get beat deep.” Krause patrolled the back of the defense. He played the back of the defense much like Ed Reed did three decades later. Krause did it first. If interceptions are the measuring stick, Krause did it best.

The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 20-11. 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 20-11 20. Kevin Williams, DT
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May 31, 2023 17:46:24 GMT -6 8 Replies
Let's have a look at the draft classes that Brian Flores oversaw with the Dolphins, focusing on the defensive players that Flores added to build what was the worst defense in football into a respectable unit and see if there are any conclusions to draw.

Key: AV = Pro Football Reference's Actual Value stat, correlates to games played and counting stats
AVPY = AV per year
My Board = My ranking of the player pre-draft.
PFF = An overall PFF rating for this player's career, weighted more towards 2021 & 2022.

You can generally consider the 2019 and 2021 classes to be successes, with Wilkins taking a big step forward in 2022 and the duo of Phillips and Holland being positive contributors. I actually think Holland is on the underrated side after he had a near elite rookie year in 2021. In this three year sample size, I can conclude that the Grier/Flores combo did a satisfactory job.

The 2020 picks are a mixed bag when comparing AV to PFF - by snaps played and tackles recorded, Davis and Jones are relative successes, but PFF thinks they are both considerably below average players. One thing that is not for debate is that Igbinoghene is a total bust - you can argue he's been stuck behind Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, but there have been plenty of snaps for an outside CB to play with those two getting hurt frequently, and yet he's been terrible and passed up by UDFA/veteran filler.

I opted to add the ranking from my draft boards at the time to use as an indicator of accuracy (this is part of a bigger article I'm working on). It just so happens that my board was in complete agreement with the Wilkins, Phillips, and Holland picks. All three of the top 2020 picks were deemed questionable, and at least by PFF's standards my board's complaints were justified.

I find it concerning that the one time Flores took a big swing at a CB, he completely failed. However, we should recognize that one selection is a small sample size. There is also another reason for hope when it comes to our top drafted CB, Mekhi Blackmon. It is well known that the primary reason why he was drafted in the 3rd round was because of his outstanding PFF rating. Now check this out:

2020 draft board - top 60 players with PFF grades in their final year in college at 75 or lower

The correlation between a subpar PFF grade in their final year to being a bust in the NFL is very strong (the only successes here IMO are S Dugger and TE Kmet). All 4 of the CBs have turned out to be complete busts with only Igbinoghene still with his original team. I did the opposite study on high PFF ratings and didn't find as strong of a correlation, so I didn't bother to screenshot it.

I find this to be good news for Blackmon, but also bad news for 4th rounder Jay Ward, who had a worse PFF rating than everyone on this list (part of the reason why I considered him to be a 7th round prospect). But it's also worth noting that Blackmon was the last pick in the 3rd round, and the hit rate on a late 1st like Igbinoghene is considerably higher than the late 3rd, so it's not necessarily a blunder on KAM/Flores' part if Blackmon doesn't pan out.

Outside of that, I don't have any other conclusions to draw. If we had spent a 1st or 2nd round pick on a player who was rated highly by the consensus, I'd be excited, but we only ended up spending a very late 3rd, late 4th, and early 5th on defensive players. It's not fair to just look at this crop of mid-rounders players and expect the success of Wilkins/Holland/Phillips there.

I am working on a larger draft analysis article that will examine whether it has been worthwhile to grade draft picks after the draft has happened, so stay tuned for that!
Let's have a look at the draft classes that Brian Flores oversaw with the Dolphins, focusing on the defensive players that Flores added to build what was the worst defense in football into a
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Jul 1, 2023 11:38:58 GMT -6 0 Replies
The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 30-21.

100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 30-21

30. Robert Smith, RB
29. Ahmad Rashad, WR
28. Kyle Rudolph, TE
27. Eric Kendricks, LB
26. Justin Jefferson, WR
25. Steve Jordan, TE
24. Keith Millard, DT
23. Matt Blair, LB
22. Danielle Hunter, DE
21. Antoine Winfield, CB

Ahmad Rashad, Steve Jordan, and Matt Blair are in the Vikings Ring of Honor. Robert Smith, Keith Millard and Antoine Winfield should be. Kyle Rudolph, Eric Kendricks, and Danielle Hunter will be. This block of ten includes the first of the “elite” players in Vikings franchise history.

Injuries and nagging health issues (he even missed at least one game due to chicken pox!) slowed the start of Robert Smith’s career. Once he got going, he was great. He possessed ridiculous speed. Every time he got past the line I thought that he was gone. He was outstanding on screens. The Vikings schemed and executed screens well during his era but it was Smith’s speed that made them work. His sudden retirement after the 2000 season was jolting.

I’ve always felt that Ahmad Rashad would be in Canton if he’d come to Minnesota a few years earlier. His years with the Vikings were Hall of Fame caliber.

Kyle Rudolph felt like a franchise cornerstone and team leader from the moment he was drafted in 2011. I never thought that his talents were consistently utilized to their fullest. He had a career high of 83 catches in 2016. His next highest catch total was 64 in 2018. Every year should’ve been somewhere between those numbers. Instead, he only averaged about 45 catches a year. Rudolph made the most of his limited opportunities as he was often among the tight end leaders in touchdowns.

Eric Kendricks finally broke through the Luke Kuechly-Bobby Wagner All-Pro blockade a few years ago. He’s been playing at an All-Pro level pretty much from the moment he started as a rookie in 2015. He could play the run and the pass like few linebackers I’ve ever seen.

Justin Jefferson. Incredibly, he’s only three years into his career and #26 feels low. He’s moving up this list at a ridiculous rate.

Rudolph and Steve Jordan are the best tight ends in Vikings franchise history. They are 1-2 in all tight end categories. Jordan is the franchise leader in catches and yards. Rudolph is the leader in touchdowns. Jordan went to six Pro Bowls during an era in which tight ends truly started to emerge as impact players and offensive weapons.

For a handful of years, Keith Millard played the defensive tackle position as well as any player I’ve seen. He simply wrecked offenses. If injuries hadn’t whittled away at his talents, he’d be in Canton.

Matt Blair played his first five seasons during the final seasons of the Purple People Eaters. He was the only defensive star remaining after the greats departed. He continued to play at a high level into the 1980s. It felt like Blair and Rashad were the Vikings only Pro Bowl players for about a decade. In reality, it was only a few seasons in which they were the team’s lone representatives in Hawaii.

If Danielle Hunter can stay on the field and play as he did through his first five seasons, he could move higher than #22. The Vikings have an outstanding defensive line legacy and Hunter was fast approaching the greats. He was productive and healthy last season. Hopefully, that continues.

Antoine Winfield was listed as a cornerback. He was so much more. He was an outside corner. He was an inside corner. He was a linebacker. He was a pass rusher. He was at his best near the line of scrimmage, near the action. Saying that seems to take away from his talents in coverage. Winfield was simply an outstanding football player. All of the football and media honks seemed to agree but he didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until his 10th season. That unlocked another two. He should’ve had many more than three Pro Bowls as well as a few All-Pros. Tape of Winfield’s tackling should be mandatory viewing for all football players from Pop Warner to the NFL.

The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 30-21. 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 30-21 30. Robert Smith, RB 29.
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Jun 24, 2023 8:50:56 GMT -6 0 Replies
The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 40-31.

100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 40-31

40. Chad Greenway, LB
39. Jeff Siemon, LB
38. Dalvin Cook, RB
37. Daunte Culpepper, QB
36. Everson Griffen, DE
35. Ed White, OG
34. Scott Studwell, LB
33. Anthony Carter, WR
32. Jim Kleinsasser, TE
31. Bill Brown, FB

After missing his rookie season with a preseason knee injury, Chad Greenway was a Vikings defensive staple for the next ten seasons. I always found him vastly underrated but that’s the life of today’s off-the-ball linebackers. Pro Bowl nods always go to the pass rushers. He did go to two Pro Bowls. He should’ve been to about six. Simply put, Greenway was a very good football player.

Jeff Siemon was probably the only Viking that played well in Super Bowl XI. It felt like he made every tackle and there were a lot of tackles to make. He was a terrific linebacker throughout the 1970s.

Dalvin Cook. I wish that he hadn’t missed most of his rookie season. I wish that his Vikings career hadn’t come to an early end a few weeks ago. In between, Cook was one of the best running backs in franchise history. He’s probably the most complete back (rushing, receiving, blocking) since Chuck Foreman. He could do it all and he’s such a fun football player. The only issue that I ever had with his game was the injuries. And he seemed to fumble every time that he was injured. It’s interesting that the only season in which he played every game was his last season. I’m going to miss Dalvin Cook.

The Vikings have been trying to find their next franchise quarterback since Fran Tarkenton retired after the 1978 season. Daunte Culpepper was the most promising. He might also be the team’s greatest “what if.” Drafted in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft, Culpepper was the starter by his second season. From 2000-04, he improved steadily with frequent spectacular play. It helps that he was throwing to Randy Moss. Culpepper’s 2004 season was MVP-quality. Everything crashed in the seventh game of the 2005 season with a knee injury. He was never the same after that. Brad Childress cleared the quarterback room in 2006 and Culpepper’s brilliant potential was gone.

Jared Allen kept Everson Griffen on the bench for his first four seasons. Despite starting one game over those four seasons, the Vikings gave Griffen a big second contract. The football world was shocked. Vikings fans weren’t. They knew what Griffen could do. He simply needed playing time. I believe that new head coach Mike Zimmer was surprised with the under-used pass rusher that he inherited. As soon as that first season together, happily surprised. Griffen was a terrific pass rusher and fun football player.

Ed White and Ron Yary formed the best right-side in Vikings history. White deserved more than four Pro Bowls and he deserved All-Pro status. He played to those levels for most of his 17-year career. If he’d received the season honors that he deserved, he’d receive the Hall of Fame consideration that he deserves.

Scott Studwell played and worked for the Vikings for so long that it feels like he was on the original 1961 team.

Anthony Carter flashed across the Vikings football landscape. It might be surprising that he played nine seasons in Minnesota. Carter’s best season was the strike-shortened 1987 season when he averaged a ridiculous 24.3 yards per catch. His performance against the 49ers in the 1987 playoffs was one of the greatest in Vikings franchise history. The 49ers run of Super Bowl titles was supposed to start that season and Carter took their defense apart. 10 catches, 227 yards, and a run of 30 yards. He was a brilliant, fun receiver.

Some might see #32 as a little high for Jim Kleinsasser. Few players in Vikings franchise history played their position as well as Kleinsasser played his. In that case, #32 is low. His position was blocking tight end. He played the position like an offensive lineman. A very good offensive lineman. He did all of the little things that made it possible for players like Daunte Culpepper, Chester Taylor, Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre, and Percy Harvin to shine. Prior to the 1999 NFL Draft, I read a draft profile of Kleinsasser that noted, “If he gets his hands on you, it’s over.” That’s the sort of thing that’s said of an offensive lineman. Kleinsasser blocked like an offensive lineman.

Bill Brown was one of the league’s best fullbacks in the 1960s. George Halas traded him after a single season and always regretted it. Brown’s last few years were my first few years as a Vikings fan. He’s a player that I’ve always wished I’d seen in his prime.

The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 40-31. 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 40-31 40. Chad Greenway, LB 39.
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May 27, 2023 13:56:00 GMT -6 3 Replies
The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 80-71.

100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 80-71

80. Phil Loadholt, OT
79. Wade Wilson, QB
78. Orlando Thomas, S
77. Chester Taylor, RB
76. Ed Sharockman, CB
75. Nate Wright, CB
74. Lonnie Warwick, LB
73. Roy Winston, LB
72. Brian Robison, DE
71. Percy Harvin, WR

The 1980s were a somewhat confusing time for Vikings quarterbacks. Actually, nearly every decade since Fran Tarkenton retired has been a confusing time for Vikings quarterbacks. Tommy Kramer was drafted in the first round in 1977 to be Tarkenton’s heir. When Kramer was on the field, he was a fun gunslinger. Injuries too often kept him off the field. Wade Wilson was a late-round pick in 1981. He developed into a reliable starter by the end of the late-1980s. He even made the Pro Bowl in 1988.

Chester Taylor was signed as a free agent in 2006 to be the Vikings top running back. He gained over 1200 yards that season. Then the Vikings drafted Adrian Peterson and Taylor was relegated to being one of the league’s best backups. He was a terrific third-down back.

Ed Sharockman was one of the Vikings starting corners for most of the 1960s. He collected 40 interceptions during an underrated career.

Nate Wright is best known for being the player shoved to the ground by Drew Pearson in the 1975 playoffs. Despite that unfortunate play, Wright was one of the best corners in Vikings franchise history.

Lonnie Warwick and Roy Winston were two-thirds of the linebacker trio that played in the giant shadow of the Purple People Eaters. Warwick, Winston, and Wally Hilgenberg were a solid trio.

Brian Robison is an example of a player getting a boost on this list for the person that he is. He was a terrific football player but he was also really great with the fans. He still is. His “96 Questions” was a blast.

Percy Harvin should be higher on this list. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure why he isn’t. It just seemed to fall this way. Perhaps it’s the shortness of his time in Minnesota. Perhaps it’s the disappointment and frustration with his departure. Who knows? Despite being a Top 25 talent he falls to #71. He was a fun football player.

The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 80-71. 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 80-71 80. Phil Loadholt, OT 79
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Jun 17, 2023 10:50:45 GMT -6 0 Replies
The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 50-41.

100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 50-41

50. Xavier Rhodes, CB
49. Adam Thielen, WR
48. Carl Lee, CB
47. Dave Osborn, RB
46. Grady Alderman, OT
45. Tommy Mason, RB
44. Henry Thomas, DT
43. Bobby Bryant, CB
42. Tommy Kramer, QB
41. Kirk Cousins, QB

At his peak, Xavier Rhodes was the best cover corner in the league. I only wish that peak had lasted longer.

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs put on a weekly route-running tutorial. They were so much fun together. I wish that the pairing could’ve lasted longer. Thielen is an excellent receiver and the path that he took to get to the league was a great one.

It took a few years for Carl Lee to hit his stride as a cornerback for the Vikings. He even dabbled at safety his first couple seasons. By his fifth season, he was one of the league’s best cornerbacks. He made three Pro Bowls (should’ve been about five) and was named All-Pro once.

Until Chuck Foreman joined the team in 1973, the Vikings running game was very much a committee affair. From 1967-70, Dave Osborn was the most productive ballcarrier. He got the tough yards and at times a few more. His 972 yards in 1967 was the franchise record until Foreman rewrote the books in the 1970s.

There are a lot of former Vikings players that could be the next member of the team’s Ring of Honor. In my opinion, the next member should be Grady Alderman. I think that he should be the next member simply because he’s been waiting longer than anybody. He was the left tackle on the first Vikings team. He was the team’s left tackle for more than a decade. Six Pro Bowls. One All-Pro.

One of the great mysteries of the franchise’s official 50 Greatest Vikings was Tommy Mason not being on it. He was the team’s first draft pick. He and Fran Tarkenton were the team’s first stars. I visited the Vikings Museum in 2019. I was surprised and ecstatic to find a display devoted to Mason. He deserves it. He also deserves greater appreciation from the Vikings and the fans for his Vikings career.

Henry Thomas played in the shadow of Chris Doleman and Keith Millard on the Vikings defensive lines of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Thomas racked up 56 sacks over his eight years in Minnesota. His 93.5 career sacks is an impressive number for a player that often lined up on the center. Hall of Fame impressive?

Bobby Bryant played much bigger than his 170 lbs. He played big in big games. He had a pick-six of Roger Staubach in the 1973 NFC Championship game. He returned a blocked a field goal for a touchdown and intercepted two passes in the 1976 NFC Championship game. Bryant’s 51 interceptions rank second to Paul Krause’s 53 interception in franchise history.

If only Tommy Kramer had better luck with injuries. It seemed that whenever he was hitting his stride he was sidelined with an injury. “Two-Minute Tommy” was a fun quarterback. He had the passing talent to be a great quarterback.

I’ve always wondered if Kirk Cousins would get less grief if he wasn’t such a goofy guy. His statistics are elite level. The only legitimate knock to his game is the occasional bad game. All quarterbacks have an occasional bad game but a Cousins bad game is a really bad game. I believe that it would take a Super Bowl win for Cousins to be embraced by the majority of Vikings fans. He might be one more really good season from becoming QB2 in Vikings franchise history.

The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 50-41. 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 50-41 50. Xavier Rhodes, CB 49
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Jun 10, 2023 10:15:22 GMT -6 0 Replies
The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 60-51.

100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 60-51

60. Jeff Christy, C
59. Ed McDaniel, LB
58. Tim Irwin, OT
57. EJ Henderson, LB
56. John Gilliam, WR
55. Gary Larsen, DT
54. Anthony Barr, LB
53. Sammy White, WR
52. Matt Birk, C
51. Stefon Diggs, WR

Jeff Christy ranks behind the great Mick Tingelhoff and Matt Birk in the Vikings long, strong center tradition.

Ed McDaniel was always a favorite of mine. The Vikings defense wasn’t great in the late 1990s but they were strong up the middle with John Randle, McDaniel, and Robert Griffith.

Tim Irwin=steady and dependable. He received zero league-wide accolades during his long starting run in Minnesota. Still, he was named one of the 50 Greatest Vikings.

John Gilliam carried the Vikings great receiver tradition in the early 1970s. His specialty was the big play. During his four years in Minnesota, Gilliam averaged 20 yards per catch. Over his first three years with the Vikings, he averaged a ridiculous 22, 21.6, and 22.2 yards per catch. His departure after the 1975 season was my introduction to a player’s often fleeting time with a team.

Anthony Barr was the epitome of Mike Zimmer’s team defense. If he’d been drafted by a team that simply sent him after the quarterback on every snap, he’d probably have a much more recognizable career and sizable stat sheet. He was a very good, often great, football player but he rarely got the attention or recognition that he deserved.

The receiver position has always been my favorite. It’s the position I played. It’s the position I’m drawn to the most. The Vikings have an excellent receiver tradition. Sammy White was one of my first favorite receivers. His pairing with Ahmad Rashad was a great one. Until the Carters, White and Rashad was my favorite Vikings receiving duo.

The days that Stefon Diggs, Percy Harvin, and Randy Moss were traded were three of the saddest days of my Vikings life. I loved watching Diggs play the receiver position. His route-running. His pass-catching. His energy. His passion. He was a blast. The fact that Justin Jefferson is now in Minnesota makes it easier to see Diggs in Buffalo.

The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 60-51. 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 60-51 60. Jeff Christy, C 59.
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Jun 3, 2023 10:11:23 GMT -6 0 Replies
The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 70-61.

100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 70-61

70. Todd Steussie, OT
69. Robert Griffith, S
68. Gene Washington, WR
67. Doug Martin, DE
66. Ryan Longwell, K
65. Wally Hilgenberg, LB
64. Linval Joseph, DT
63. Korey Stringer, OT
62. Pat Williams, DT
61. Karl Kassulke, S

Doug Martin and #94 Mark Mullaney had the unfortunate task of being drafted to replace members of the Purple People Eaters. Martin came the closest to doing so. He led the league with 11.5 sacks during the strike-shortened season of 1982. Martin’s 61.5 sacks rank 9th on the Vikings all-time sacks list. Mullaney is 14th with 41.5.

Imagine where Ryan Longwell would be on this list if he’d had that opportunity to kick the Vikings to the Super Bowl in 2009. I probably fretted less over Longwell’s kicks than any kicker in my time with the team. That goes back to the days of Fred Cox.

Following #74 Lonnie Warwick and #73 Roy Winston, Wally Hilgenberg is the third of the linebacker trio that played in the giant shadow of the Purple People Eaters. Hilgenberg was the best known and most productive of the three linebackers.

Linval Joseph and Pat Williams were the space-eaters, block-eaters, running game-wreckers of a couple excellent defensive lines. It’s a damn shame that Jospeh never had a tackle partner like Williams had with Kevin Williams.

Karl Kassulke had his career cut short by a motorcycle accident while on his way to training camp in 1973. He and Paul Krause formed one of the best safety pairings in Vikings history. Kassulke was the linebacker-like hitter. Krause was the roving centerfielder.

RIP Korey Stringer.

The countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 70-61. 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 70-61 70. Todd Steussie, OT
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Dec 28, 2022 22:12:15 GMT -6 70 Replies
Need an update with all of the crazy things going on in the NFL with QBs? Here's a quick tier list of how I perceive teams' need at the QB position in 2023. Note - this assumes that all free agent QBs will hit the market. They all won't, of course, but some will.

Colts - Matt Ryan and Nick Foles are cooked, and Sam Ehlinger didn't even look good enough to be a backup. They need to draft a QB.
Commies - Wentz is under contract for $26M and then $27M the next two years, but $0M is guaranteed and he was already benched once this year. It's time they find a long-term replacement.
Raiders - Derek Carr is being traded or cut, as the Raiders wisely made only $5M of his next $120M guaranteed. I anticipate a trade with how hungry teams are for QBs... thus making Brady the most likely candidate to be a Raider in 2023 with McDaniels as the HC.
Texans - They should be taking a QB at #1 in the draft.
Panthers - They've gone through too many mediocre QBs, it's time they drafted one. Sam Darnold has overachieved in a few starts, but he should be viewed as a backup at this point.
Giants - Daniel Jones is a free agent, but I fully expect him to return. The question is, will he be franchise tagged or paid way too much on a long-term deal?
Seahawks - Geno Smith seems likely to return, but I find it hard to imagine he keeps up his play from earlier in the year. He's a high quality bridge QB, IMO. 
Ravens - Lamar Jackson's deal is up, but they're going to franchise tag him at the absolute worst. He wants something around $50M a year...
Bucs - Tom Brady's deal is up, and it feels like he may opt to take out with the team not looking as good in 2022. He's taken a step back too, but not enough for other teams to lose interest in him.
Jets - Zach Wilson is a Josh Rosen-esque bust, and Mike White is a FA. White makes sense as a bridge QB, but I expect them to go after Garoppolo.
Saints - It's been an odd year with Dalton taking over the job from Winston. Neither are the answer, though Dalton is a FA and Winston is probably getting cut.

Titans - Ryan Tannehill can be cut to save $18M, which seems logical with his declining health and the Titans' general lack of wanting to throw the ball, but Malik Willis looks like he's years away from being ready to play QB in the NFL. While you could argue they don't "strongly" need a QB, the Titans need a spark, and the best way to get that would be from the QB position. Good defense + Derrick Henry (before he breaks down) + better QB = true contender in the AFC.
Falcons - Marcus Mariota is not the answer, and Desmond Ridder probably isn't either. I didn't like Ridder as a prospect due to his poor accuracy and so far he's lived up to that scouting report. They currently have the 6th pick in the draft, so QB should absolutely be on their mind.

Broncos -  *deadhorse*
Patriots - Mac Jones is probably going to get another chance, hopefully outside of Matt Patricia's influence. Bailey Zappe showed some promise too. Long-term I don't think either of them will get the Patriots to where they want to go, but Belichick has laid his bed and must lie in it now.

Lions - Goff is under contract for $30M and $31M the next two years, and he's rebounded well this year. They'd do well to develop a young QB behind him for the future.
49ers - I think it's likely the Niners roll with Lance and Purdy in 2023 and let Garoppolo go for real. They invested 3 1sts into Lance and haven't seen enough of a sample size to give up on him, and Purdy looks like a great backup.

Others - The Rams may want to draft a QB to wait behind Stafford, as it wouldn't shock me if he retires before his deal ends. The Packers already have their backup plan if Rodgers does plan to retire, but I expect A-Aron will be back to pocket his $55M. Watson looks like garbage so far, but the Browns have invested far too much to abandon the plan. Jacoby Brissett likely gets a job as a bridge QB after an unexpectedly solid 11 game showing for Cleveland.

Any thoughts?

Need an update with all of the crazy things going on in the NFL with QBs? Here's a quick tier list of how I perceive teams' need at the QB position in 2023. Note - this assumes that all free agent
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May 20, 2023 10:44:30 GMT -6 2 Replies
This countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 90-81.

100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 90-81

90. Lance Johnstone, DE
89. David Dixon, OG
88. Paul Flatley, WR
87. Paul Dickson, DT
86. Ted Brown, RB
85. Darrin Nelson, RB
84. Ben Leber, LB
83. Milt Sunde, OG
82. Rickey Young, RB
81. Joe Kapp, QB

Lance Johnstone was an underrated free agent signing. The Vikings really had no pass rushing presence after John Randle left following the 2000 season. Johnstone signed in 2001 and started sacking quarterbacks. His best seasons were as a situational pass rusher.

The Vikings have a strong receiver tradition. Paul Flatley started that. He was the first Vikings receiver to take home Rookie of the Year honors. His five years in Minnesota weren’t nearly enough.

Darrin Nelson might be best remembered by Vikings fans for not being Marcus Allen. I’m not sure if the Vikings decision-makers had Chuck Foreman in mind when they drafted him over Allen. Nelson might’ve been that sort of player at Stanford. He wasn’t built to be that sort of player in the NFL. I always liked Nelson but he was never going to be the type of running back that the Vikings drafted him to be.

Ben Leber was an easy football player to like. He was always steady. He was always around the ball. And he made a lot of big plays. He was the third linebacker to EJ Henderson and Chad Greenway. That was a great linebacking trio. Leber may have been the trio leader in big plays.

Rickey Young is probably higher on my list than most lists of Vikings greats. He was an excellent pass-catching back. His best rushing season was 1979 with 708 yards. His reception totals were ridiculous for a back. 88, 72, and 64 over his first three years in Minnesota. His 88 receptions in 1978 led the league.

With his recent passing in mind, #81 feels way too low for Joe Kapp. He was such a pivotal player in the Vikings evolution from an expansion team to an annual contender. Kapp was the Cal football coach during my school days on the Berkeley campus. He’s a personal favorite due to his playing and coaching days at Cal and his too-brief playing career with the Vikings. He was never the prettiest quarterback (other than his 7-touchdown day) but he sure was a fun quarterback.

This countdown of the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players continues with players ranked 90-81. 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 90-81 90. Lance Johnstone, DE
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May 14, 2023 14:24:52 GMT -6 2 Replies
With about two months to pass until training camp, I decided to rank the 100 Greatest Players in the history of the Minnesota Vikings. My time with the team started in the early 1970s. I’ve watched most of the players on this list. Through highlights, research, reading, and interviews I feel like I’ve watched the players that played before my time with the team. The franchise has had a lot of great players over its 62 years in the NFL. 13 of the players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A few others should be. A handful more will be. As with any list like this it’s very subjective. It’s how I see the greatest players in Vikings history and the order can change daily, even hourly. It’s a very fluid thing. The following is how I see it now. Hopefully, I can refrain from tinkering with the order during the course of the reveal. The countdown to #1 starts today with the players ranked from 100-91. The reveal will continue over the next several weeks.

100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players: 100-91

100. Randall Cunningham, QB
99. Brett Favre, QB
98. Joe Senser, TE
97. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/KR
96. Leo Lewis, WR/KR
95. Terry Allen, RB
94. Mark Mullaney, DE
93. Bryant McKinnie, OT
92. Greg Coleman, P
91. Fred Cox, K

Randall Cunningham and Brett Favre kick off this list. In many ways, their inclusion is more ceremonial than deserving. Each had one great season for the Vikings. Despite arguments from Fran Tarkenton and Daunte Culpepper, the greatest quarterbacking seasons in franchise history were Cunningham in 1998 and Favre in 2009. My goodness, those seasons were a blast. Those seasons have to be recognized and I’m including Cunningham and Favre in my first two spots of the Top 100. If only each had guided the Vikings to that final game.

One of the great “What if’s” in Vikings history is tight end Joe Senser. He played during the era of Dave Casper, Kellen Winslow, Todd Christensen, and Ozzie Newsome. Senser had 42 catches for 447 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie in 1980. He exploded for 79 catches for 1004 yards, and eight touchdowns in 1981. In only two seasons he had played his way into the orbit of the league’s great tight ends. Then we had the sad strike-shortened season of 1982. Senser missed the 1983 season with a knee injury. He was never the same and his career was over after the 1984 season. If not for that injury, who knows what his career would’ve been. He seemed unstoppable in 1981 and it felt like he was just getting started. Chuck Foreman, Keith Millard, Joey Browner, Terry Allen, Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings have had several players with promising, even Hall of Fame caliber, careers cut short by injuries. All teams have. Injuries will always be an unfortunate part of football. Joe Senser could’ve been an all-time great. Not just a Vikings all-time great but a league all-time great. For what he did before the knee injury cut short his career, he’s #98.

If Cordarrelle Patterson ever learned to run a route and be where he was supposed to be, his stay in Minnesota would’ve been longer. He’d also be in the top half of this list. He’s one of the greatest kick returners in league history. He was a blast with the ball in his hands. Because Patterson could never be relied upon to do what he was supposed to do on offense, he goes down as one of the more frustrating players in Vikings history.

Another receiver/kick returner. Leo Lewis is one of the smallest players to ever play for the Vikings. He had a very underrated 11-year career in Minnesota. He was a fine receiver and impactful punt returner. It felt like every game of his that I watched an announcer would mention that Lewis’ father had played for Bud Grant in the CFL.

It feels like Terry Allen should be higher. He had two 1,000-yard seasons during his four seasons in Minnesota. He missed a season to injury. If he’d done in Minnesota what he continued to do in Washington, he’d be much higher on this list.

Another frustrating player, probably the most frustrating Vikings player, is Bryant McKinnie. He had the physical gifts to be one of the best offensive tackles to ever play. Instead of dominating, it felt and looked like he simply ambled his way through his assignments. He made one Pro Bowl and he got himself sent home from that one Pro Bowl. Fitting. McKinnie had the talent to be in the Top 20 of this list. Instead, he’s #93. I suppose that’s something. Honestly, he probably should be in the 60-70 range. He gets penalized for being frustratingly disappointing.

I close the first ten with a couple specialists. It can be tough to place kickers and punters on a list like this. Bobby Walden, Greg Coleman, Mitch Berger, and Chris Kluwe are the best punters in franchise history. Mitch Berger is the only one of the four to reach a Pro Bowl. I went with Coleman for his 10-year Vikings career and because he was a fun punter. Few punters are fun and Coleman was fun. Fred Cox is the Vikings all-time scoring leader. And he helped invent the Nerf football. Both contributions put him among the 100 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Players.

With about two months to pass until training camp, I decided to rank the 100 Greatest Players in the history of the Minnesota Vikings. My time with the team started in the early 1970s. I’ve watched
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May 6, 2023 13:17:42 GMT -6 0 Replies
The Minnesota Vikings selected six players in the 2023 NFL Draft. They signed another 15 players that went undrafted. 21 Vikings rookies. With these new players in mind, here’s a look at some of the best rookies in Vikings franchise history. Maybe one or two, or more, of current rookies will crack this lineup. That would be something as this team contains many of the best players in franchise history. Anything feels possible in May.

Minnesota Vikings All-Rookie Team


Fran Tarkenton-1961

Fran Tarkenton got his rookie season rolling early when he led the Vikings to a win over the Chicago Bears in the first game in franchise history. He's in the Hall of Fame and an easy choice here. Christian Ponder and Teddy Bridgewater are the only other quarterbacks to play significant roles as rookies. So, Tarkenton easily takes it.

Running backs

Adrian Peterson-2007

Chuck Foreman-1973

Easy choices. Each took home rookie of the year awards. Each was an immediate difference-maker.


Randy Moss-1998

Justin Jefferson-2020

Randy Moss and Justin Jefferson each had one of the best rookie receiver seasons in NFL history. Randy Moss scored an NFL rookie record 17 touchdowns. Jefferson’s 1,400 receiving yards is topped only by the 1,473 yards posted by Bill Groman in the first season of the AFL and the 1,455 yards posted by Ja’Marr Chase in 2021. Randy Moss was an easy choice for rookie of the year. Justin Jefferson should’ve been. Jefferson’s great rookie season topped that of 2009 Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin, 1976 Rookie of the Year Sammy White, and 1963 Rookie of the Year Paul Flatley. The Vikings have a nice history of rookie receivers. Jordan Addison and all future Vikings rookie receivers have a near impossible task of bumping Moss or Jefferson from this team.

Tight End

Joe Senser-1980

Joe Senser's 4-year career was way too short but it started well. 42 catches and 7 TDs.


Gary Zimmerman-1986

Korey Stringer-1995

Ron Yary would've made this team at right tackle if it wasn't for Bud Grant's "rookies aren't ready to start" philosophy. Gary Zimmerman was great. So was Korey Stringer. His life and career ended way too soon. In a little way, his being on this team helps keep his spirit alive. Zimmerman played two seasons in the USFL before he became an NFL rookie so he was a "seasoned" rookie. Matt Kalil made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2012 but I’m going with Zimmerman at left tackle on this team. 


Randall McDaniel-1988

Ed Ingram-2022

Randall McDaniel is an automatic choice. Ed Ingram had a rough rookie season. From stepping on his quarterback’s right foot multiple times to some blocking whiffs, he had many low moments. He also showed some potential. From violent blocks to helping linemates, he made scattered plays that show potential. He gets the nod on this team because Marcus Johnson didn’t set a high bar in 2005. Ed White would probably get the nod if Bud Grant started rookies.

Mick Tingelhoff-1962

Mick Tingelhoff started every game in his 17-year Hall of Fame career. That streak started with his rookie season.

Defensive ends

Carl Eller-1964

Kevin Williams-2003

Carl Eller is an easy choice. Kevin Williams played his rookie season at defensive end and collected 10.5 sacks. He went on to a dominant, All-Decade career on the interior.

Defensive tackles

Alan Page-1967

Keith Millard-1985

Alan Page is an automatic choice. Even Bud Grant couldn't keep Page on the bench as a rookie. Keith Millard was an immediate force in the middle of the Vikings line. 11 sacks as a rookie. Like Gary Zimmerman, Millard wasn't a raw NFL rookie after a short stint in the USFL.


Anthony Barr-2014

Eric Kendricks-2015

Matt Blair-1974

Anthony Barr was an impact playmaker from his rookie season. Eric Kendricks edges out Jeff Siemon. It took about a month for Kendricks to force his way into the starting lineup. With each game he got better at this job. Matt Blair played his way into the starting lineup as a rookie and became a defensive cornerstone.


DeWayne Washington-1994

Carl Lee-1983

DeWayne Washington was an impact starter as a rookie. He was an impact starter all four of his years in Minnesota. I will never understand how the Vikings let him leave town in free agency. The second corner spot is something of a toss-up between Earsell Mackbee, Carl Lee, Cedric Griffen, and Cameron Dantzler. Each started games as a rookie and showed varying degrees of potential. Lee developed into one of the best cornerback in Vikings franchise history. He showed some of that potential as a rookie.

Joey Browner-1983

Harrison Smith-2012

Joey Browner and Harrison Smith are two of the best safeties in Vikings franchise history. Browner gets the nod despite not starting a single game at safety as a rookie. He was a dynamo on special teams. Smith was a defensive force from the start.


Blair Walsh-2012

Blair Walsh's best season was his first season. He made the Pro Bowl and named All-Pro as a rookie. If only that great rookie season carried through into a great career. 


Ryan Wright-2022

Perhaps there’s a recency bias but Ryan Wright’s great rookie season edges Bobby Walden’s great rookie season in 1964.

Cordarrelle Patterson-2013
Cordarrelle Patterson edges Percy Harvin. Patterson was All-Pro as a rookie and has been the league’s best kick returner ever since.

The Minnesota Vikings selected six players in the 2023 NFL Draft. They signed another 15 players that went undrafted. 21 Vikings rookies. With these new players in mind, here’s a look at some of the
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Apr 22, 2023 10:56:40 GMT -6 0 Replies
The 1975 NFL Draft was the first draft that I can recall following. It started on a Tuesday. It wasn't televised. It was actually a little hard to follow. It was very hard to follow for a young Minnesota Vikings fan living in California. Until ESPN televised the draft for the first time in 1980, it was always hard to follow. Newspaper coverage was pretty much the only coverage and that wasn't until the next day. I was somewhat aware of the 1973 and 1974 NFL Drafts but that was more after the fact. I knew that the Minnesota Vikings didn't have running back Chuck Foreman in 1972 and then they had him in 1973. He was something called a "rookie" and he hadn't played professional football before. Perhaps because of Foreman I had to find out about this thing called the NFL Draft.

The 1975 NFL Draft was unique in that it was the first time that a player from Cal was selected with the first overall pick. The Atlanta Falcons selected quarterback Steve Bartkowski with that pick. He was a decent quarterback on a sh*tty team. He might have been a great quarterback on a better team. I quickly learned that’s the purpose of the draft. Access to the great players is supposed to help the sh*tty teams get better. It doesn’t always work that way as many of the sh*tty teams can’t get away from being sh*tty. As for 1975, Randy White and Walter Payton turned out to be the stars of this draft. White was selected second by the Dallas Cowboys. Payton was selected fourth by the Chicago Bears. Each was among the best players of their generation and earned well-deserved busts in the Pro Football Hall Fame. Robert Brazile and Fred Dean also played their way into Canton. Brazile was selected sixth by the Houston Oilers. Dean was selected in the second round by the San Diego Chargers. Eleven of the 26 players taken in the first round received Pro Bowl recognition at some point in their careers. Not bad. Besides Payton, White, Dean, and Brazile, some of the prominent NFL players from the 1975 NFL Draft were Gary Johnson, Dennis Harrah, Russ Francis, Louis Wright, Doug France, Monte Jackson, Louis Kelcher, Doug English, Cleveland Elam, Rick Upchurch, and Pat Haden.

Highlighted by Walter Payton and Robert Brazile, the 1975 draft was a banner draft for Jackson State. Payton and Brazile were selected early. Running back Rickey Young, linebacker John Tate, and defensive back Charles James were selected later. Nowhere near the heights of Payton and Brazile, Young had a very productive, nine-year NFL career. After three years with the Chargers, he was a very good, pass-catching back for the Vikings for six seasons. In 1975, itty-bitty Jackson State was the rival of the big schools for football talent. 

As for the Vikings, the 1975 NFL Draft can be best described as disappointing. No player made a Chuck Foreman-like impact. The Vikings selected Colorado St. defensive end Mark Mullaney in the first round. Mullaney had some moments, actually some pretty good moments, in his NFL career. Those moments didn't happen often enough. This was a bad time to come to Minnesota if you were a defensive lineman. With Alan Page, Carl Eller, and Jim Marshall, the Vikings defensive line was one of the best in league history. Marshall and Eller were tough to follow for a defensive end. Unfortunately for Mullaney, he was drafted to do so. The Vikings didn’t get much from the 1975 NFL Draft.

1. Mark Mullaney, DE, Colorado State
2. Art Riley, DT, USC
4. Champ Henson, RB, Ohio State
4. Bruce Adams, WR, Kansas
5. Robert Miller, RB, Kansas
6. Bubba Broussard, LB, Houston
7. Henry Greene, RB, Southern
8. Joe Hollimon, DB, Arkansas State
9. John Passananti, G, Western Illinois
10. Neil Clabo, P, Tennessee
11. Ike Spencer, RB, Utah
12. Autry Beamon, DB, East Texas State
13. Mike Hurd, WR, Michigan State
14. Mike Strickland, RB, Eastern Michigan
15. Ollie Bakken, LB, Minnesota
16. Tom Goedjen, K, Iowa State
17. Adolph Bellizeare, RB, Pennsylvania

Only Mark Mullaney, Robert Miller, Neil Clabo, and Autry Beamon earned a spot on the Vikings 1975 roster. Clabo had the biggest immediate impact. He was the team’s punter for three seasons. Miller and Beamon provided depth and saw some playing time. That was about it from a draft that brought in 17 players. Six of the 17 players played running back. It was a very different time. People would be fired if a team selected six running backs today.

The 1975 NFL Draft didn't do much for the Minnesota Vikings but it was the beginning of my growing interest in the draft. Fortunately, the 1976 NFL Draft was more fun and much better for the Vikings.

The 1975 NFL Draft was the first draft that I can recall following. It started on a Tuesday. It wasn't televised. It was actually a little hard to follow. It was very hard to follow for a young
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Apr 16, 2023 11:49:05 GMT -6 0 Replies
On December 18, 1995, the Minnesota Vikings had a Monday night date with the San Francisco 49ers. Candlestick Park. I was at this game. Typically, a night game at Candlestick is very cold. Not Minnesota cold. It’s California cold. About 50 degrees. The play on the field this night kept the stadium cozy. Tense but cozy. As a California-based fan, I haven’t been to a lot of Vikings games. So every game I’ve attended sticks with me. This game sticks with me. It was a treat to be there.

The 1990s was an interesting decade for the Vikings. With Dennis Green as head coach, the Vikings were consistently competitive. They were also consistently eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. 1995, the year of this 49ers game, was the only year of the decade that the Vikings didn’t end the season in the postseason.

In 1995, the San Francisco 49ers were defending champions. They entered this Week 16 game with a nice 11-4 record. The 49ers dynasty had stretched into a second decade. The Vikings were 8-7. They needed this game much more than the 49ers. This was a terrific game. Maybe, some of you remember it.

The 49ers, led by Steve Young and Jerry Rice, jumped all over the Vikings from the start. The score was 21-0 after the first quarter. It looked like the game was going to be a laugher. Then, something changed. Being in the stadium, I could feel it. Cris Carter put his team on his back and pushed, pulled, and willed his team back into the game. This may have been the moment when Carter joined Alan Page as my favorite Vikings football players. The Vikings erased much of the early deficit. They creeped back into the game. From 21-0, it was 27-20 at the half. This game turned into an aerial show of Hall of Famers. Warren Moon and Cris Carter vs Steve Young and Jerry Rice. More specifically, it turned into a duel between Carter and Rice. Whatever you can do I can do better. As a fan of receivers, it was a beautiful night.

The 49ers ultimately won this game. The final was 37-30.

This game sticks with me because it was great. It was the best demonstration of pass-catching that I’d ever seen. Rice vs Carter. It also sticks with me because of it’s time. This was before cell phones. This was before fantasy football dominated game day thoughts. In-game statistics were not blasted throughout the stadium. Unless one was listening to a radio play-by-play or actively charting the game, there was no way for one to accurately know player statistics. This was an incredible Cris Carter vs Jerry Rice show. Rice had some big plays. Carter had some big plays. Due to the early 21-0 deficit, every single catch by Carter felt so important. I feel like every catch either moved the chains or scored a touchdown. He put the team on his back and carried them for three quarters. Leaving Candlestick, I figured that Rice had caught about a dozen passes for 180-200 yards and the three TDs. I figured that Carter had also caught about a dozen passes for about 150 yards and two TDs.

I was stunned when I saw these game statistics in the newspaper on Tuesday morning.

Cris Carter
12 catches
88 yards
2 TDs

Jerry Rice
14 catches
289 yards
3 TDs

Jerry Rice had one of the greatest careers in NFL history. Arguments rage about the best player in league history at nearly every position. There are no such arguments about the best receiver. Rice is #1. His career statistics are ridiculous and so far ahead of every other receiver. Statistically, this was his best game. If one were to only look at the numbers and ignore how the game was played, this was a one-sided receiver battle. Rice gained 200 more yards than Carter. As one of the 64,975 seated in Candlestick that night, it wasn’t one-sided. This was a receiver duel and it felt like an even one. Every one of Carter’s 12 catches meant something. Each chain-moving 8-yard catch meant more to the Vikings than a Rice 30-yard catch meant to the 49ers. There was so much fluff to Rice’s stats and so much substance to Carter’s stats. Perhaps that’s due to the early 21-0 score. Those points came so easily. It took great effort for the Vikings to come back. This game has stuck with me because it was a fun, thrilling game. It was especially fun for a fan of incredible receiver play. Rice and Carter were two of the best to ever do it and they were at their best this night. This game has also stuck with me because it revealed a lot about statistics. They’re fun but they don’t always reveal the narrative of the game. On December 18, 1995, the Minnesota Vikings had a Monday night date with the San Francisco 49ers. Candlestick Park. I was at this game. Typically, a night game at Candlestick is very cold. Not
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Apr 8, 2023 15:50:42 GMT -6 0 Replies
Here’s a look at the best pick from each of the 62 drafts of the Minnesota Vikings.

3. Fran Tarkenton, QB, Georgia
No offense to Tommy Mason, the first pick in Vikings franchise history, but this one is easy.

Undrafted. Mick Tingelhoff, C, Nebraska
I’m going the undrafted route with the best pick of 1962. Mick Tingelhoff was the NFL’s best center throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s. He finally made it to Canton in 2015.

4. Paul Flatley, WR, Northwestern
Paul Flatley exploded out of the gate. He took home the league’s Rookie of the Year award in 1963. He earned a Pro Bowl nod in 1966. Flatley was the first in the Vikings great receiver tradition.

The one that got away. I sure wish that the Vikings had managed to wrestle second-round pick Bobby Bell from the Kansas City Chiefs. I have sleepless nights imagining Bell playing linebacker behind the Vikings great defensive line.

1. Carl Eller, DE, Minnesota
Another easy one. Carl Eller is deservedly honored in Canton and is one of the franchise’s greatest football players.

13. Dave Osborn, RB, North Dakota
The 1965 draft is a bit of a hole in the Vikings early acquisition of talent. Top pick, receiver Jack Snow, never played for the Vikings. He was traded to the Los Angeles Rams before he could take a snap in Minnesota. None of that takes anything away from Dave Osborn. He was a very good, productive running back for all of his 11 years with the Vikings.

5. Doug Davis, T, Kentucky
The 1966 draft was another bleak one for the Vikings. Doug Davis was the team’s primary right tackle from 1966-69.

1. Alan Page, DT, Notre Dame
The 1965 and 1966 drafts weren’t great for the Vikings. The 1967 draft was great. It’s arguably the best in franchise history. It helped to have the first of the bounty of picks from the trade of Fran Tarkenton. Clinton Jones, Gene Washington, Alan Page, Bob Grim, Bobby Bryant, and John Beasley all came out of the 1967 draft. Page is arguably the best player in Vikings franchise history.

1. Ron Yary, OT, USC
This is another easy one. The Vikings had the first pick in the 1968 NFL Draft as a result of the Tarkenton trade. They did right with the pick. Ron Yary is honored in Canton. He’s one of the best offensive tackles in league history and arguably the best of his era.

2. Ed White, G, Cal
Ed White is the best Cal player to play for the Vikings. He was an outstanding defensive lineman in college but made a smooth transition to offense. Paired with Yary, the right side of the Vikings offensive line was dominant for about a decade.

10. Stu Voigt, TE, Wisconsin
As a young Vikings fan, I was annoyed by a preseason team evaluation that said that Stu Voigt was a mediocre tight end. It was probably accurate but this young Vikings fan thought that Voigt was great. The 1970 draft wasn’t a good one for the Vikings but Voigt was better than mediocre for nearly all of his 11 years in Minnesota. He was an excellent blocker and reliable receiver.

15. Jeff Wright, S, Minnesota
The 1971 draft was another poor draft for the Vikings. First round pick Leo Hayden is one of the most spectacular busts in franchise history. Hayden and Jeff Wright were the only picks that made the team. Wright formed a solid safety pairing with Paul Krause for about six years.

1. Jeff Siemon, LB, Stanford
Despite his Stanford origins, Jeff Siemon is one of the best middle linebackers in franchise history. He went to four Pro Bowls and probably should’ve gone to a couple more. If felt like he made every damn tackle in Super Bowl XI.

1. Chuck Foreman, RB, Miami
This is another easy one. Chuck Foreman was great. It was so fun to watch him play football. For about five years he was arguably the best running back in the league. He was certainly the most versatile. In my opinion, he should have a bust in Canton.

2. Matt Blair, LB, Iowa State
The 1974 draft was a strong one for the Vikings. Fred McNeill and Steve Riley in the first round. Matt Blair in the second. Steve Craig in the third. It helps to have extra picks. It helps even more to take advantage of those extra picks. Blair was the best of the bunch. He’s also one of the best linebackers in franchise history.

1. Mark Mullaney, DE, Colorado State
Mark Mullaney was the first of a couple on this list that had the unfortunate task of eventually replacing the Purple People Eaters. Carl Eller and Jim Marshall? No one was ever going to effectively replace either of those greats. Mullaney was a very good player for all of his 12 years in Minnesota.

2. Sammy White, WR, Grambling
Sammy White was probably my first favorite Vikings receiver. He was the big play pass-catcher opposite the chain-mover Ahmad Rashad. The White-Rashad pairing was fun. White was the second Vikings receiver to take home Rookie of the Year honors.

9. Scott Studwell, LB, Illinois
The 1977 draft was a very good and very underrated draft for the Vikings. Tommy Kramer, Dennis Swilley, Tom Hannon, Scott Studwell. All four became impact players. Kramer would easily get the nod as best pick of the draft if he’d managed to stay on the field more consistently. When he was on the field, he was a lot of fun and sometimes great. Unfortunately, he was hurt so damn much. Studwell gets the nod because he was consistently available and consistently effective from 1977-90. Add to that his decades in the Vikings front office.

2. John Turner, CB, Miami
First-round pick Randy Holloway was another defensive lineman tasked with replacing legends. Fourth-round pick Jim Hough was a solid offensive lineman for a few years. Second-round pick John Turner gets the nod for solidly starting several more games than Hough.

6. Joe Senser, TE, West Chester State
Joe Senser is one of the great “what ifs” in franchise history. What if an injury hadn’t ended his career? 42 catches for 442 yards and seven touchdowns in 1980. He ripped up the league in 1981. 79 catches for 1004 yards and eight touchdowns. He had more modest production during the 1982 strike-shortened season. An injury wiped out his 1983 season. He tried to come back in 1984 but wasn’t the same player. It was his final season. Senser was on the verge of joining Kellen Winslow and Ozzie Newsome as one of the best tight ends in the league. Then, his career was suddenly over. First-round pick Ted Brown and second-round pick Dave Huffman had longer and better overall careers than Senser but the sixth-round pick from itty bitty West Chester State had one of the most productive seasons in franchise history.

1. Doug Martin, DL, Washington
Doug Martin was the best of the defensive linemen drafted to replace legends. He led the league with 11.5 sacks during the strike-shortened (9 games) 1982 season. He had 13 sacks in 1983. He had a couple nine-sack seasons later in his career. Martin was a very good and underrated football player for the Vikings.

3. Tim Irwin, OT, Tennessee
Tim Irwin is another underrated player for the Vikings. He was a fixture at right tackle for a decade. The Irwin-Gary Zimmerman tackle pairing is one of the team’s best. Irwin impacted the current generation of Vikings players as the youth football coach of Harrison Smith.

7. Steve Jordan, TE, Brown
Steve Jordan is the greatest tight end in Vikings franchise history. The Pro Football Hall of Fame voters should have a discussion about Jordan’s inclusion in Canton. I doubt that he’ll get a bust but his great career should, at the very least, be discussed.

1. Joey Browner, S, USC
Steve Jordan’s career should be discussed by the Hall of Fame voters. Joey Browner should be in the Hall of Fame. He was one of the best safeties of his era. If not for injuries, he’d surely be in Canton. Even with an injury-shortened career, he should be. As a safety peer, Kenny Easley earned a bust based on fewer games played, fewer Pro Bowls, and as many All-Pros. In my opinion, Browner was the better player. At his best, Browner was the equal of Ronnie Lott. Just my opinion. As a side, I recently met Browner’s nephew at a Converse outlet near Sacramento. Had a fun conversation.

1. Keith Millard, DT, Washington State
Another great Vikings football player. Another great career cut short by injury. Another Hall of Fame-worthy player despite that shortened career. At the height of his football talents, Keith Millard routinely wrecked the plans of offenses throughout the league. Put simply, he was a beast. The Vikings had to wait on Millard as he went to the USFL before he stepped on an NFL field. He was worth the wait.

1. Chris Doleman, DE, Pittsburgh
Chris Doleman is deservedly honored in Canton. On a team with a fantastic pass-rushing tradition, he’s one of the best.

3. Kirk Lowdermilk, C, Ohio State
The Vikings have a great pass rushing tradition. They also have a very good center tradition. Kirk Lowdermilk followed in the footsteps of the great Mick Tingelhoff and the solid Dennis Swilley. Lowdermilk effectively carried the Vikings center tradition for six seasons.

3. Henry Thomas, DT, LSU
Henry Thomas is one of the most underrated players in Vikings and recent league history. He was the glue of the great defensive line of Chris Doleman, Keith Millard, and Al Noga.

1. Randall McDaniel, G, Arizona State
This one’s very easy. Randall McDaniel is the best guard that I’ve ever seen. Better than John Hannah. Better than Larry Allen. Better even than the great Steve Hutchinson.

4. Darryl Ingram, TE, Cal
This draft was terrible. Perhaps the nod should go to Mike Merriweather as the Vikings traded their first-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the linebacker. Of the actual draft picks, only second-round pick David Braxton and fourth-round pick Darryl Ingram made the team and neither made it to a second season. Darryl Ingram gets the nod for the two games that he started for the Vikings and for being a Cal classmate of mine.

Undrafted. John Randle, DT, Texas A&I
I’m again going the undrafted route. John Randle is one of the best, most fun players ever to play for the Vikings. His great career earned him a bust in Canton.

It’s no surprise that I had to go the undrafted route for the 1990 draft as it’s the first of the three consecutive drafts depleted by the infamous Herschel Walker trade. 

3. Jake Reed, WR, Grambling
Jake Reed is the second Grambling receiver on this list. Like Sammy White before him, Reed was the big-play receiver opposite a great chain-moving receiver. Reed and Cris Carter were a great pair.

5. Ed McDaniel, LB, Clemson
Ed McDaniel was a very underrated football player. He was also one of my favorite players from this era.

1. Robert Smith, RB, Ohio State
Once Robert Smith shook the injury bug that plagued him over his first four seasons, he was an outstanding running back. After his eighth and best season, he suddenly retired. His final four seasons were a blast.

1. Todd Steussie, OT, Cal
Another Cal player! Todd Steussie was a very good left tackle on an excellent offensive line. Steussie, Randall McDaniel, Jeff Christy, David Dixon, Korey Stringer. Oh my, that’s a dreamy offensive line.

1. Korey Stringer, OT, Ohio State
Korey Stringer. RIP Big K. I’m still not over his sudden passing.

3. Moe Williams, RB, Kentucky
Moe Williams is probably best known for taking a lateral from Randy Moss in for a score. Williams was a solid, versatile running back for nine seasons.

7. Matthew Hatchette, WR, Langston
I’m picking Matthew Hattchette because I can’t stomach picking Dwayne Rudd. I was thrilled when the Vikings selected Rudd in the first round. He was supposed to be the explosive defensive playmaker that the Vikings desperately needed. Few Vikings players frustrated me more. I quickly grew tired of his excessive celebrations of routine plays. Hattchette was a nice fourth receiver on a loaded, explosive offense.

1. Randy Moss, WR, Marshall
Randy Moss is the most explosive, most physically gifted receiver I’ve ever seen. He’s the third Vikings receiver to be named Rookie of the Year.

2. Jim Kleinsasser, TE, North Dakota
A knee injury keeps Daunte Culpepper from being the pick. Jim Kleinsasser was a great football player. He didn’t have the production now expected from a tight end but he was a dominating blocker. I’ve never seen a better blocking tight end.

1. Chris Hovan, DT, Boston College
Chris Hovan might not have fulfilled all first round expectations but he was a solid interior presence on the Vikings defensive line for a few seasons.

1. Michael Bennett, RB, Wisconsin
Michael Bennett was drafted to replace the suddenly retired Robert Smith. Bennett didn’t hit Smith’s highs but was pretty good for a few seasons.

1. Bryant McKinnie, OT, Miami
Bryant McKinnie could’ve been one of the greatest offensive tackles to ever play. He had the talent. Like Dwayne Rudd, McKinnie rarely did anything but annoy me. It never looked like he was much interested in playing football. Even with little effort he occasionally dominated. He had that much talent. Getting sent home from his lone Pro Bowl for being a dipsh*t was the perfect summation of his career.

1. Kevin Williams, DT, Oklahoma State
Kevin Williams was arguably the best defensive tackle of his era. Paired with Pat Williams on the interior, teams could not run on the “Williams Wall.” Those two teamed with ends Jared Allen and Ray Edwards/Brian Robison to form an excellent defensive line. Kevin Williams had a Canton-worthy career. The top of the Viking 2003 draft class was strong: Williams, E.J. Henderson, and Nate Burleson.

4. Mewelde Moore, RB, Tulane
If leukemia hadn’t ended his career, first-round pick Kenechi Udeze might’ve been the choice for best 2004 pick. Fortunately, Udeze beat the sh*t out of the leukemia but his career was over. He continued his football life as a coach. Mewelde Moore was a solid, versatile back and returner.

This draft sucked. Thanks to the sad trade of Randy Moss, the Vikings had two first round picks and blew them both. Troy Williamson was the pick to replace Moss. Huge miss. Erasmus James was supposed to be a pass rushing solution. Another miss. Perhaps making matters worse, the Vikings passed on Aaron Rodgers twice. Considering the clown that he’s become or maybe always was, that doesn’t feel like a mistake. Besides, Daunte Culpepper still had intact knees at the time. If the Vikings were to do the 2005 first round again, DeMarcus Ware and Roddy White would be the picks.

1. Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa
Chad Greenway’s rookie season was erased by a preseason knee injury. He hit the 2007 season running and kept running for the next 10 years. He’s one of the best linebackers in franchise history.

1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
Adrian Peterson is one of the best running backs I’ve ever seen. He could make defenders look silly with speed, moves, and power. 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers as a rookie. 2,097 yards and an MVP award in 2012. He’ll be honored in Canton in a few years.

6. John Sullivan, C, Notre Dame
The Vikings traded a first- and two third-round picks in the 2008 NFL Draft to the Kansas City Chiefs for Jared Allen. So this draft was a bit depleted before it started. It was worth it as Allen was an awesome addition. The selection of John Sullivan was a very good addition. In 2009, he took his place in the Vikings strong center tradition.

1. Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Percy Harvin was a blast to watch. The only disappointing aspect of his Vikings career was the trade to the Seattle Seahawks after the 2012 season. Harvin was the fourth Vikings receiver to be named Rookie of the Year.

4. Everson Griffen, DE, USC
Everson Griffen spent his first four seasons playing sparingly in the long shadow of Jared Allen. When he took the field full time in 2014, he immediately started terrorizing quarterbacks. He was a fun, great football player.

2. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
If Steve Jordan isn’t the best tight end in Vikings franchise history, Kyle Rudolph is. He was an excellent player and leader for a decade.

1. Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
In consecutive years, the Vikings hit twice on Notre Dame players. Harrison Smith has been brilliant since his rookie season. He should’ve been one of the safeties on the 2010s All-Decade team. He will have a Hall of Fame discussion five years after he retires.

1. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
For a stretch of 2-3 years, Xavier Rhodes was one of the best cover corners in the league. His best games were those against the best receivers in the league. Undrafted Adam Thielen deserves mention here. His great, long career with the Vikings probably makes him a more deserving choice than Rhodes.

1. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
I wish that this choice was Teddy Bridgewater as it’d be nice if the Vikings had drafted a franchise quarterback. That takes nothing away from Anthony Barr. Even if he wasn’t always respected for all that he did on the field, Barr was a very good player and leader for a long time.

3. Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU
The 2015 draft was one of the best in franchise history. Trae Waynes, Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter, and Stefon Diggs. Each became a starter and most were impact starters. Kendricks, Hunter, or Diggs could be the pick here. The only knock on Hunter’s excellent career are the two seasons he missed to injury. When healthy, he’s one of the league’s best pass rushers.

7. Stephen Weatherly, DE, Vanderbilt
The 2016 draft wasn’t very productive. First-round pick Laquon Treadwell can safely be called a bust for the Vikings. I’m reluctantly going with Stephen Weatherly as the best pick of this sad draft. Second-round pick Mackensie Alexander might’ve had more and greater highs. In 2018 and 2019, he was one of the better nickel corners in the league. I’m leaning Weatherly because of his decent production as a rotational pass rusher relative to his seventh-round selection. I find it interesting that both players left and returned to the Vikings despite the supposed toxic environment surrounding the team.

2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Dalvin Cook’s play makes him an easy choice. The lack of anyone else from the 2017 draft class doing much of anything makes the choice even easier. Cook is a really fun back. I feel like I’m one of the few fans that hopes his Vikings career continues for at least another season.

2. Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh
Brian O’Neill has developed into one of the best right tackles in the league. The Vikings have had many offensive line issues in recent years. O’Neill isn’t one of them.

3. Alexander Mattison, RB, Boise State
It’d be best for the Vikings if Garrett Bradbury had developed into the center that he was drafted to be. He got an extension, maybe he’ll hit the level expected of a first round pick. Until that happens, Alexander Mattison is the best pick from the 2019 draft. He’s been a reliable #2 to Cook. Like Bradbury, Mattison received a contract extension this offseason. Even if Cook still tops the depth chart, I expect many more carries for Mattison.

1. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
What can be said that hasn’t been said about Justin Jefferson. Three years in and he’s the league’s most productive receiver. He’s also one of the league’s most likable players. Jefferson is simply a brilliant football player. He should’ve been the fifth Vikings receiver to be named Rookie of the Year.

1. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
It’s happened so fast but Justin Jefferson and Christian Darrisaw are probably the best, most important, and most valuable players on the Vikings roster. Darrisaw’s highlights are a riot. He’s a bully. It’s beautiful.

3. Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma
It’s really too early to make this pick. Undrafted punter Ryan Wright probably had the best rookie season. Ed Ingram was the only draft pick to earn a starting role. I’m going with Brian Asamoah because of his fine but scattered rookie moments. He’s penciled in as a starter going into his second season and I expect big things. I also expect big things from Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth Jr., Akayleb Evans, Esezi Otomewo, Ty Chandler, and Jalen Nailor. I expect continued big things from Ryan Wright and great improvement from Ed Ingram.

Here’s hoping that the 2023 draft class of the Minnesota Vikings is filled with elite talent and contributors.

Here’s a look at the best pick from each of the 62 drafts of the Minnesota Vikings. 1961 3. Fran Tarkenton, QB, Georgia No offense to Tommy Mason, the first pick in Vikings
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Apr 2, 2023 9:55:12 GMT -6 0 Replies
The latest VR is out, and this week our focus is on all the Vikings news, our positional analysis is defensive tackle, and trivia is back after a brief hiatus.

The latest VR is out, and this week our focus is on all the Vikings news, our positional analysis is defensive tackle, and trivia is back after a brief hiatus. https://www.youtube
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Mar 18, 2023 9:01:41 GMT -6 4 Replies
With this year’s free agency off and running, here's a look back at ten of the best free agent signings of the Minnesota Vikings. It's a modest list as the Vikings have often been bystanders rather than participants in these annual shopping sprees. These are only unrestricted and restricted free agent signings so no Brett Favre, Randall Cunningham and other street free agents like them. Hopefully, Josh Oliver, Marcus Davenport, Byron Murphy Jr., Dean Lowry, as well as any other player signed this offseason populate future attempts at the Top 10 Minnesota Vikings Free Agents. For now, here’s this one.

10. Tom Johnson, DT

Tom Johnson’s play with the Vikings was a revelation mostly because it took him so long to hit his stride in the NFL. He played in the Arena Football League, Canadian Football League, and NFL Europe before he found a spot with the New Orleans Saints in 2011 at the age of 27. He really found his place in the NFL with the Vikings in 2014. Johnson was a terrific interior pass rusher. So terrific that he's one of the best Vikings free agent signings. His impact on the pass rush reminds of that made by Lance Johnstone two decades ago. Actually, Johnstone is a player that is deserving of a spot on this list.

9. Ben Leber, LB

Ben Leber was a consistently solid linebacker for the Vikings from 2006-10. He had a great knack for making big plays in crucial moments. The linebacker trio that Leber formed with Chad Greenway and E.J. Henderson was one of the best in franchise history.

8. Ryan Longwell, K

A kicker! The only thing that keeps Ryan Longwell from being ranked higher is the position that he played. Longwell was an excellent kicker each of his six seasons in Minnesota. His six seasons are probably the only seasons since a particular day in January 1999 that I haven’t worried about field goals or extra points. He's in the argument for best kicker in Vikings franchise history.

7. Chester Taylor, RB

Chester Taylor had an outstanding first season for the Vikings in 2006. He probably would have had several more in Minnesota if not for the surprising arrival of Adrian Peterson in the 2007 NFL Draft. Taylor's playing time was cut drastically but he remained an effective complimentary back to Peterson. The two formed an excellent combo.

6. Corey Chavous, S

Corey Chavous came to Minnesota as a corner in 2002 but really found his home with a switch to safety. His 2003 season was outstanding. That was the year in which he often seemed to be the only Vikings player on the field that had any interest in playing defense. He earned the only Pro Bowl nod of his career that season. Smart football player.

5. Pat Williams, DT

Defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams formed the "Williams Wall." No one ran on the "Williams Wall." It was remarkable to watch Pat Williams move short distances. He was so big but he got through the line so fast. He was a lot of fun to watch.

4. Linval Joseph, DT

Linval Joseph was a force in the middle of the Vikings defensive line from the moment he joined the team in 2014. In his six years in Minnesota there were stretches of games in which he simply couldn't be blocked. The only knock on his play was the occasional injuries. When healthy, he was among the very best interior defensive linemen in the league.

3. Kirk Cousins, QB

Kirk Cousins has been sailing up this list. Statistically, each of Cousins’ seasons in Minnesota are among the best passing seasons in Vikings franchise history. Unless he can lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl title it’ll never be enough. If nothing else, Cousins has brought consistency to football’s most important position. The Vikings had been seeking quarterbacking consistency since Fran Tarkenton’s last snap.

2. Antoine Winfield, CB

Antoine Winfield's signing in 2004 was the Vikings first true venture into big time free agency. They merely dabbled in the “free” player market for the first ten years. They struck gold with Winfield. He played for the Vikings for nine years and was fantastic for nine years. He made it to three Pro Bowls. He should have been to more. It was a real treat to be witness to his football career. He won't get much Hall of Fame consideration but he's in my Hall of Fame. Winfield was a great, fun football player.

1. Steve Hutchinson, G

Steve Hutchinson might have been the team MVP in 2006. He quickly changed the level of play and attitude of the Vikings offensive line the moment he became a part of it. As a result he changed the entire offense. He was an outstanding football player for all of his six seasons in Minnesota. He has a much deserved bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


The Minnesota Vikings have rarely gotten too involved in free agency. The Hutchinson, Winfield, and Cousins signings were the biggest but such signings have been rare in Minnesota. A low free agency profile is the norm. That's why 2006 was such a surprise. In Brad Childress' first season as head coach the Vikings really dove into free agency. Four players on this list were signed that year. Steve Hutchinson, Chester Taylor, Ryan Longwell, and Ben Leber. That offseason was a bonanza and Vikings fans were delirious. All four helped form the foundation of a team that improved each season. A team that ended up being a play away from the Super Bowl in 2009.

With this year’s free agency off and running, here's a look back at ten of the best free agent signings of the Minnesota Vikings. It's a modest list as the Vikings have often been bystanders rather
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Mar 13, 2023 17:37:17 GMT -6 0 Replies
With day one of the legal contact/tampering period almost in the books, Drew, Ted, Ruby, and Chris are going live to talk about it all. Come join us!

With day one of the legal contact/tampering period almost in the books, Drew, Ted, Ruby, and Chris are going live to talk about it all. Come join us! https://www.youtube.com/watch
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Mar 11, 2023 11:06:52 GMT -6 0 Replies
Great episode on tap! But so much has happened since we recorded we're going to do a live show later this week, maybe two! Anyway, we hope you enjoy the show:

Great episode on tap! But so much has happened since we recorded we're going to do a live show later this week, maybe two! Anyway, we hope you enjoy the show: https://www.youtube.com/watch
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Feb 26, 2023 21:06:49 GMT -6 10 Replies
Welcome back to my annual Offseason Guide article, where I whip up a hypothetical Vikings offseason that involves axing Vikings, signing copious amounts of free agents, and attempting to fix issues that have been made by management. The past two years of guides went as follows:

2021: Nuke the roster down to the studs
2022: Re-tool and prepare to compete in 2022/23

I feel it may be redundant to follow up with another “retool” offseason guide, so this year, the goal has changed.

2023: Push the chips in and make an all-out run for a Super Bowl

Seeing how we just went 13-4, as fluky as it was, I will be managing the roster as if the Wilfs told me that I’m fired if we don’t at least get to the Championship game this year. In my opinion, this approach is not precisely what I would do if I were in control, as we’re going to be putting our roster in bad shape for 2024. Nevertheless, let’s see the plan I’ve conjured up!

Currently, we are at -$21.08M. Yikes, let’s rectify that!

Releases / Cuts

ILB Eric Kendricks (saves $9.5M, leaves $1.93M of dead cap)

This move was hinted at when they didn’t restructure his contract last year, but Kendricks’ play really fell off a cliff in 2022 after he had a relatively shaky 2021. He wasn’t a fit in Donatell’s zone-heavy coverage scheme, but his play against the run plummeted in the second half of the season, and it was hard to watch. I don’t see the point of a price reduction, they need to start fresh at the LB position – not just for the future, but also for the defense being good in 2023.

ILB Jordan Hicks (saves $5M, leaves $1.5M of dead cap)

I called this move the worst free agent signing during the 2022 offseason, and I stand by it. Hicks wasn’t a huge liability as he was better than Kendricks against the run, but he’s never been good in coverage and he got worse at it as he’s entered his 30s. He’s a two down linebacker at this point, which is something you can find for cheaper than $5M.

FB C. J. Ham (saves $3.05M, leaves 750K of dead cap)

During training camp / preseason, it was thought that Ham would have a decently sized role on the offense. Instead, he only ended up playing 16-18% of the snaps and he was not a difference-maker as a run blocker. O’Connell will likely transition away from using a FB, and if he does want to use one, he can find one for the veteran minimum. It was a good run, CJ.

G/C Chris Reed (saves $2.5M, leaves $250K of dead cap)

Reed fell out of favor early on as he was a healthy scratch for the first 10 games of the season, as Oli Udoh and Austin Schlottmann were trusted as gameday backups despite their basement-bottom play in 2021. There is no reason to keep Reed, seeing as how we could scavenge $2.5M from his deal.

DT Ross Blacklock / TE Johnny Mundt ($2.83M saved)

Blacklock was just as poor of a player as he was in Houston, but the Vikings struck gold with Khyiris Tonga. By the end of the year, Blacklock was inactive even with Bullard hurt, so there’s no reason to keep him. Mundt had a few highlights via the old “the defense forgot the blocking TE existed” play, but the problem is that he is a very poor blocker. He can be easily replaced.


RT Brian O’Neill - $6M bonus, saves $4M in 2023.

More money could be drawn from O’Neill’s deal, but I fear his 2024/2025 cap hits would rise too high. Right now, those two cap hits are now $21.7M and $24.7M. O’Neill is a great player, but that’s a lot of money for a RT.

OLB Za’Darius Smith - $7.5M bonus, saves $5M (added a 2025 void year)

The Vikings could choose to move on from Smith after a Jekyll & Hyde season that saw him dominate the first half and disappear in the second half. However, I deemed it too difficult to find a worthy replacement for an affordable price, so I’ll lock in even further. This may prove to be a mistake as paying pass rushers into their 30s is not a wise idea.

WR Adam Thielen - $2.5M pay cut

I went back and forth on what to do at WR, but the WR market has simply gone too crazy to replace Thielen with the $6.3M savings we’d get from cutting him. Instead, he gets one more year to be a starting receiver. I considered Mecole Hardman but he’d command at least $10M a year, and Nelson Agholor would make less than $6.3M but he stinks and is now 30. Thielen is still a solid redzone weapon at this point in his career.


QB Kirk Cousins – 2 years, $80M fully guaranteed. Saves $10M in cap room, cap hits in 2024 and on: $41.25M, $51.25M, $10M (void)

Remember when I said this plan wasn’t “precisely what I’d do”? Well, Kirk’s current cap number is hurting our ability to sign players, and thus it’s time to punt the can down the road yet again. He receives his fourth fully guaranteed deal from the Vikings and screws our 2024 and 2025 cap. His $40M a year matches Dak Prescott and Matthew Stafford, which seems fair. Hopefully he doesn’t ask for Wilson/Murray levels of APY ($46-48M).

TE T. J. Hockenson – 5 years, $70M (saves $6.08M of cap space)

Having landed him for swap of 2nd/3rd to two 4ths, it feels as if this move was always part of the plan. Hockenson meshed very well with O’Connell’s plan and he made up for Thielen/Osborn’s shortcomings. He should rightfully ask for at least $15M a year, seeing as how that’s around what George Kittle, Dallas Goedert, and Mark Andrews are making. Saving $6M of cap space is the cherry on top.

WR Justin Jefferson – 5 years, $180M (costs $2.4M extra on cap)

I’m not going to go into depth on the contract, but the Vikings should get this done before it gets more expensive. $36M a year should do the trick, and following the model of Tyreek Hill’s mega deal, his first year cap hit will be bumped up to $6.5M. It won’t get crazy until 2025… well, we’re already in trouble that year too since Kirk’s cap hit is $51M, but my orders were to win now and worry about the future later.

Re-signing our internal free agents

DE/DT Dalvin Tomlinson – 3 years, $37.5M (saves $500K of cap space)

Tomlinson took a step forward in Donatell’s 3-4 system, as he went back to his roots with the Giants playing in a 3 man front. His pressure rate went up, and finding interior pass rushers is a pain. Add in the fact that the Vikings save $5M on a $7.5M void cap hit if they do extend him, and I think this move is a no-brainer. The signing ends up breaking about even.

CB Duke Shelley – 1 year, $3M

It is very hard to accurately predict what Shelley might get on the open market, as he played so well in a small window of time. His fit in Flores’ scheme is undeniable, as his play in man coverage was among the best in the NFL. We need him back, and playing just like he did last year.

QB Nick Mullens – 1 year, vet minimum

Mullens is a slightly below average backup who can function in an NFL offense, but is prone to making dumb mistakes. Once again, we don’t have the money to buy a quality backup, so we’ll go cheap and bring Mullens back, but with some competition soon to be added.

LS Andrew DePaola – 2 years, vet minimum

DePaola made the All-Pro team and was voted to a Pro Bowl. Cool, that’s enough for me to apply the veteran minimum since of looking for a slightly cheaper rookie. Moving on…

Players Being Let Go

C Garrett Bradbury – I can’t do it. Bradbury took a big step forward and looks like he can function as an average center in the NFL, but he’s still a liability in pass protection. That shouldn’t fly in O’Connell’s pass heavy scheme.

CB Patrick Peterson – He’s coming off a quality year, but he’s a mismatch for Flores’ man-heavy system and Peterson’s age regression is going to kick in at some point. It’s better to move on a year early rather than a year too late.

TE Irv Smith Jr. – LOL bye. The NFL is lacking in TEs, and he’ll find a one year deal to start somewhere else.

RB Alexander Mattison – Despite what some fans say, he is not good enough to start on 20 other teams. He also isn’t good enough to start on 10 other teams, probably not even 3. He’s a fine backup who is at most a 1B in a rushing attack. He’ll sign for cheaper than most will expect, seeing how flooded the RB market is.

CB Chandon Sullivan – The Vikings need to end their tradition of employing bad nickel CBs and not keeping a viable backup on the roster. The Packers let him go for a reason and ended up getting the last laugh.

K Greg Joseph – At the bare minimum, I’d like a kicker who can consistently hit extra points. Missing 6 in a season is not acceptable, as is missing 8 kicks in indoor stadiums, 7 of those being at home. We can do better.

DE Jonathan Bullard – He could be brought back at the veteran minimum, but James Lynch already accomplishes the “fine run stuffer, cannot rush the passer to save his life” role.

C Austin Schlottmann – We were force-fed Dakota Dozier re-runs when Schlottmann got into the lineup late in the year, as he was the lowest graded center by PFF’s grades even when factoring in every center who played at least one snap in 2022. In 2021, he was 65th out of 66, with #66 only playing 7 snaps. He is legitimately the worst center in the NFL, and I am sick of handing players jobs just because our coaches were familiar with him.

TE Ben Ellefson – He could return as a veteran minimum signing, but he gets hurt a lot for a guy who plays about 8 snaps a game.

G/T Oli Udoh – Normally I’d say something snarky about Udoh here, but when he played in lieu of O’Neill at his natural position, Udoh looked the part. He should hit the market and look to compete for a RT job, or settle for a swing tackle job. I am satisfied with Brandel as our swing tackle and Lowe developing behind him.

CB Kris Boyd – He’d only be brought back for special teams, but he has enough acclaim that he might sign for $2-3M. I’ll pass, he’s rubbed me the wrong way since he ruined a fake punt in 2021 and chirped at the fans in 2022. He’s also hot trash when he has attempting to play CB, so I’ll pass.
WR Bisi Johnson – He tore up his ACLs in back-to-back years. I’ll let him since elsewhere on a back-end 90 man roster deal.


Trade RB Dalvin Cook to the Dolphins for a 5th round pick. (saves $7.9M of cap, leaves $6.2M of dead cap)

Much could be debated for the merits of retaining a high-paid running back in O’Connell’s offense, but with how the roster is currently constructed, we need to go cheap at that position. The return is lackluster as I project teams will be looking forward to the free agent market and the draft class, both of which are loaded with talent that can be had for cheap. Why would a team offer a high pick for a RB whose best days are behind him?

Trade OLB D. J. Wonnum to the Broncos for a 6th round pick. (saves $2.74M of cap, leaves $187K of dead cap)

The PFF draft simulator said I could get a 6th for him, which seems expensive for a replacement level player, but perhaps a team sees he notched 8 sacks in 2021 and forks the pick over. Wonnum was practically a starter for the Vikings in 2022, playing about 600 snaps… but his ineffectiveness makes it seem as if he’s on the field far less than he actually is. While his run stopping grades improved to acceptable levels last year, he’s a liability as the top guy behind Hunter and Smith and it showed in the second half of the year. I’d take a conditional 7th rounder for him!

Trade CB Cameron Dantzler to the Commanders for a 6th round pick (saves $2.74M of cap, leaves $223K of dead cap)

This may be a controversial and seemingly counterintuitive seeing how heavily I rely on PFF grades, but I’ve come to the conclusion that Dantzler is not as good as his grades make him look. He was awful in Donatell’s scheme for a variety of reasons, but he was ultimately benched. While he is a better fit for man coverage, I can’t trust a player who fell both into Zimmer’s and Donatell’s doghouses. I have enough candidates to compete for the #2 job (Shelley/Evans/Booth Jr) and I will be filling the other CB spots in free agency, so I find Dantzler to be superfluous.

Cap Space: $34.12M (top 51 contracts)

Free Agent Signings

Sign CB James Bradberry - 3 years, $36M

Go big or go home! If the Vikings pass defense is to be fixed over a single offseason, it’s going to need a move like this. Bradberry is a big CB (6’1” 210 lbs) who is coming off a strong season with the Eagles, and was one of the best CBs graded in man coverage, and can hold his own facing up against quality WRs. It likely ends up only being a 1 or 2 year stay as he’s turning 30 soon, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take to put this team over the top.

Sign ILB David Long – 4 years, $36M

It’s imperative that we find a veteran LB to pair with Asamoah on the open market so we’re not forced to use a high pick on one. Long fits the bill and he’s on the young side (26). He was an important cog on a constantly overachieving Titans defense coming off a career year as a run stopper, and can hold his own in coverage. He’ll be a massive upgrade to Kendricks and Hicks.

Sign C Connor McGovern – 3 years, $21M

With Ed Ingram likely to keep his RG job, a team seriously considering a SB run needs a better iOL than we currently have, and the easiest way to do that is to let Bradbury walk and find an upgrade. McGovern isn’t a substantial upgrade, but he is a consistently stronger pass protector, which is important in our pass-heavy offense. He didn’t quite live up to his $9M APY deal in New York and is 30 now, so I think $7M a year is fair.

Sign CB Tavierre Thomas – 3 years, $15M

Finally, it’s about time we signed a quality slot CB and forget about him (in a good way). Thomas has quietly been one of the highest rated coverage CBs the past two years – not just slot CBs. Even better, he has a very high rating in man coverage, so he’s a great fit for Flores. Best of all, the track record for slot CB contracts on the open market are quite pitiful compared to other positions. No matter whether we are contending or rebuilding, I’d ink this deal in a heartbeat.

Signed RB D’Onta Foreman – 3 years, $10.5M

You may find it odd that I’m spending money on a career backup RB on the market, but Foreman is different to other available RBs. The 27 year old has consistently flown under the radar despite a strong 4.3 YPC, and just ripped off 914 yards in McCaffrey’s stead in Carolina. He’s flat-out one of the best pure runners in the NFL, and only has 443 career carries, so he’s got plenty of tread on his tires. He brings nothing to the table in the passing game, so he fits in as a 1A in the rushing attack, but is still affordable enough to be replaced by a younger back. I find it likely the Panthers retain him, but I can dream.

Sign K Matt Prater – 2 years, $6M

He may be 39, but he was still solid in 2022, hitting 88% of FGs and missed only 1 XP. Injuries may be a concern, but I will take my chances there rather than with a streaky kicker.

NFL Draft

As usual, I need to give a disclaimer here about the draft portion. At the current moment I do not have a great grasp on which prospects will go in which ranges, and I’m relying on the PFF Draft Simulator to inform me.

IMPORTANT: The takeaway should be the positions, not the players themselves. In hindsight, these drafts always look terrible / have players going way too early or late.

Pick 1-23: OLB Nolan Smith

Through free agency, I’ve set things up so that I don’t need to force this pick on any particular position. My eyes are set on edge rusher, as Hunter is in a contract year and I’ve opted not to extend him, while Za’Darius’ play will be declining sooner rather than later. Smith can take the Wonnum role (which is about 55% of the snaps, so it’s rather large) and develop into a starter for the future, or become a full-timer if Hunter/Smith get hurt. Building depth is important, especially at edge rusher.

Pick 3-87: ILB DeMarvion Overshown

I went BPA here, which resulted in what will be our third straight year drafting an ILB in the third round. Overshown has a high ceiling and can sit on the bench Year 1 as a backup plan in case Asamoah doesn’t develop as intended… plus I don’t trust Troy Dye to be the primary backup.

Pick 4-119: WR Andrei Iosivas

I don’t anticipate he’ll be on the board here, but I’d like to keep taking shots on WRs in the 3rd-5th rounds to try and hit a home run with one of them. Iosvias would compete with Nailor and Reagor for reps as the fourth receiver.

Pick 5-152: G/T Connor Galvin

Galvin can be the next project O-lineman who will likely end up at guard after playing LT at Baylor.

Pick 5-160: S Rashad Torrence II

The Vikings have been able to find overachieving safeties in the 4th-7th rounds the past several years, and perhaps Torrence II can be the next in line. With 2023 likely Harrison Smith’s last year on the roster, he could step up into a primary backup job in 2024.

Pick 5-177: TE Will Mallory

The Vikings’ depth at TE is lackluster, so let’s take another crack at it.

Pick 6-198: QB Stetson Bennett

I frankly don’t know most of the prospects left on the board at this point, but I’d like to take a late-round jab at QB just to see if we could find a decent backup. I’m sure O’Connell would like to pick his own guy, rather than having the likes of Kellen Mond foisted onto him.

Pick 6-209: DE Cameron Young

With Bullard and Blacklock gone, there is an opening for a D-lineman, and Young has the measurables that Flores prefers for his DL.

Post-Draft Signings

DE Nathan Shepherd – Coming off a passable year as a rotational D-linemen, perhaps Shepherd could look for a starting job as he would compete with Lynch. He fits Flores’ set of measurables.

WR Deonte Harty – Formerly named Donte Harris, Harty was very efficient as an undersized receiver in 2021 but only managed to play 4 games last year and missed the rest of the year with injury. When healthy, he’s a quality kick and punt returner who is fieldable on offense, which is far more than what we can say about Jalen Reagor.

TE Mo Alie-Cox – I’m expecting him to be released, and he’d be a great grab as a #2 TE. He graded out as a solid blocker and would immediately be an upgrade from Mundt, and is a solid redzone weapon (9 TDs the past 3 years). I don’t know if he could be had this cheap, but you never know when certain players sit around on the market for months at a time.

HB Justin Jackson – He was relegated to the #3 RB job for the Lions last year, but is talented enough to be a backup as he showed with the Chargers. He can also handle himself as a receiver out of the backfield, which compliments Foreman well. He would compete with Chandler for the #2 job.

C Kyle Fuller – He’s been the Seahawks backup center for a few years, and has generally had poor ratings, but not Schlottmann-levels. He’ll have to compete for a roster spot.

Cap Space Remaining: $4.56M

Final Roster

Here's the whole layout of the plan:

* Notes *

I could see in an alternately aggressive plan moving our 1st and/or 3rd round picks for a player on another roster, but I couldn't find any great fits. I looked for CBs and WRs that would make sense to replace Bradberry / Thielen, but didn't find anything I liked.

The 2022 draft class is going to get its chances - 1st rounder Cine is being handed the starting job, as Bynum should not be able to supplant him with how poor he played last year and how he doesn't fit in Flores' scheme very well. I could see Bynum get cross-trained at slot CB to give us some depth there. 2nd/4th rounders Booth Jr/Evans will get snaps when injuries inevitably hit the CB group. 3rd rounder Asamoah is being handed a starting job on a platter, too. Finally, Chandler will be getting plenty of rope at RB, while I don't expect Nwangwu to get the same chances. O'Connell's answer when asked about using Kene on offense last year was pretty clear, they think of him only as a special teams player.

If you're wondering about our 2024 cap situation... well. *unsure* The cap is expected to fall in between $249M to $268M, and before all these moves, we have $187.1M committed to the 2024 salary cap. After this article it is now... roughly $266.8M!! Welcome to salary cap purgatory, everyone!

Alright, that's enough from me! I want to hear what you think, are you a fan of going for it with no regard for the future of the team? Did I not go far enough? Let me hear what you think!Welcome back to my annual Offseason Guide article, where I whip up a hypothetical Vikings offseason that involves axing Vikings, signing copious amounts of free agents, and attempting to fix issues
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Mar 4, 2023 13:58:05 GMT -6 0 Replies
Minnesota Vikings football in the 2000s was a lot like Minnesota Vikings football in the 1980s. Too often, it was disappointing. They made it to NFC Conference Championship games at the beginning and the end of the decade but the years in between were often difficult. The Vikings employed four head coaches through the first 11 years of the new century. That’s one fewer than they employed in the previous four decades. Despite the difficulties of the 2000s, the 2009 team that fell a play short of the Super Bowl was one of the most fun teams in franchise history. Here's the Vikings 2000s All-Decade Team.

Minnesota Vikings 2000s All-Decade Team

Daunte Culpepper

Daunte Culpepper is one of the greatest “what ifs?” in franchise history. What if Culpepper hadn’t shredded his knee during the 2005 season? He was coming off consecutive Pro Bowl seasons in 2003 and 2004. His play in 2004 probably gets him the MVP award in nearly any other season. After the knee injury, Culpepper never took another snap for the Vikings and was never the same player.

Running backs
Adrian Peterson
Chester Taylor

Adrian Peterson was a brilliant running back. One of the best I’ve ever seen. Chester Taylor had a terrific season in 2006 and then the Vikings drafted Peterson. Taylor was an excellent #2 to Peterson’s #1 from 2007-09.

Randy Moss
Cris Carter

Randy Moss was one of the most stunning, most physically gifted receivers I’ve ever seen. It was an absolute blast watching him play for the Vikings. I only wish that he had never worn another team’s uniform. It's disappointing that Cris Carter’s final two seasons with the Vikings is enough to pair him with Moss on this team. After decades of strong receiving groups, the Vikings often trotted out disappointing groups after Carter retired and Moss was traded. It’s tempting to pair Moss with Sidney Rice or Nate Burleson but each really had only a single season of note with the Vikings during the decade.

Tight End
Visanthe Shiancoe

Visanthe Shiancoe was productive all five of his years in Minnesota. With 11 TDs, his 2009 season was easily his best.

Bryant McKinnie
Korey Stringer

Bryant McKinnie was a consistently good left tackle. Unfortunately, he had the talent to be an all-timer. Few Vikings players have ever disappointed me more. He was even sent home from his lone Pro Bowl. Incredible. Right tackle is a tough one. Mike Rosenthal? Ryan Cook? Phil Loadholt showed great promise as a rookie in 2009. Korey Stringer gets the nod for his final season. A Pro Bowl season. RIP Big K.

Steve Hutchinson
David Dixon

The guards are easy. Steve Hutchinson is one of the best guards in league history. He has a bust in Canton. David Dixon was an underrated bulldozer of a guard.

Matt Birk

Matt Birk was the Vikings center for nearly all of the decade. He was very good, earning six Pro Bowls and a 2nd-team All-Pro.

Defensive Ends
Jared Allen
Lance Johnstone

Jared Allen arrived in Minnesota in 2008. He immediately started terrorizing quarterbacks. He’ll be honored in Canton soon. Lance Johnstone’s five years in Minnesota seem to have been forgotten over the years. Perhaps it’s because he was a full-time starter for only one of those years. He was a pass rushing specialist and his double digit sacks in 2003 and 2004 shouldn’t be forgotten.

Defensive Tackles
Kevin Williams
Pat Williams

The Williams Wall. Kevin and Pat Williams were great. Kevin Williams should eventually find his way to Canton. Pat Williams is one of the best free agent additions in franchise history. Individually and especially together, they were so much fun.

Chad Greenway
E.J. Henderson
Ben Leber

Matt Blair, Jeff Siemon, and Wally Hilgenberg might say differently but I have Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson, and Ben Leber as the best linebacker trio in Vikings franchise history. They’re an easy pick for the best of the 2000s. I’ve often wondered how different the 2009 playoffs might’ve been if the Vikings hadn’t lost Henderson to that brutal leg injury late in the regular season.

Antoine Winfield
Cedric Griffin

Antoine Winfield was a fun, fantastic football player. In my opinion, he’s the best cornerback to play for the Vikings. He finally earned a couple Pro Bowls at the end of the decade. His career should’ve been filled with league honors. Cedric Griffen was a solid corner and a nice compliment to Winfield.

Corey Chavous
Brian Russell

Corey Chavous is an underrated football player. I really liked him in the 1998 draft and I was thrilled when he signed with the Vikings as a free agent in 2002. Chavous was excellent in 2003, earning his lone Pro Bowl. It often seemed like he made every damn tackle during that 2003 season. Brian Russell’s best season was also in 2003. That’s when his nine interceptions paced the league.

Ryan Longwell

Through the Vikings kicking woes of recent years, I’ve often thought about Ryan Longwell. I fear every kick now. I didn’t fear kicks when Longwell was kicking them. Plus, he’s a Cal alum.

Chris Kluwe

Chris Kluwe ranks with Bobby Walden, Greg Coleman, and Mitch Berger as the best punters in Vikings history. Kluwe’s five years tops Berger’s two as best of the decade. Minnesota Vikings football in the 2000s was a lot like Minnesota Vikings football in the 1980s. Too often, it was disappointing. They made it to NFC Conference Championship games at the beginning and
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SirSkolt: In 2020 the Vikings honored me as 1 of the Top 60 Viking Super Fans, to which I am honored & humbled to receive. Always strive tp promote Skol strong spirit & positive Purple Pride, Loud & proud! Jul 13, 2023 19:15:13 GMT -6
Purple Pain: *welcome* *welcome* *welcome* Jul 14, 2023 14:09:55 GMT -6
Reignman: Well stick around here and you might get inducted into 's Fan Cave someday. *thumb_up* Jul 30, 2023 15:52:53 GMT -6
Uncle: ^^That could be an idea for contest prizes, too: 2nd place in the 2023 Pick 6 contest gets a personalized tour of Funky's Fan Cave, and the winner gets that plus a picture on the "TV side" of the Cave... Jul 31, 2023 6:42:25 GMT -6
Funkytown: What the heck, guys? *lol* Jul 31, 2023 9:57:49 GMT -6
Reignman: Whoa whoa whoa, I didn't see anything about tours when I agreed to move in. Jul 31, 2023 21:33:06 GMT -6
Nemesis: Admission is a case of Dr Pepper Aug 4, 2023 12:08:02 GMT -6
Zero2Cool: Do you folks do a fantasy football competition here? If not, give FleaFlicker a look. It's free and pretty smooth. Aug 8, 2023 6:03:41 GMT -6
Funkytown: We don't do one as a group, no. But we do play Pick 6: purplepainforums.com/thread/6041/intro-purple-pains-pick-6 Aug 8, 2023 13:08:15 GMT -6
Norseman: Don't fall for that pick 6. It's rigged. (jk) Aug 12, 2023 14:40:26 GMT -6
SiteWolf: Not remotely sports, but if you're willing to help those on Maui- www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/maui-strong Aug 13, 2023 16:16:07 GMT -6
Reignman: Since PP is a delusion free zone, someone named should probably be banned seek help immediately. Sept 3, 2023 21:43:26 GMT -6
VikingsVictorious: I don't know what ShoutOuts are for, but I'll use this to just say by far best Viking site I've found and great to be posting with Y'All. Sept 9, 2023 9:36:58 GMT -6
Funkytown: Thanks, . We appreciate that! SKOL! Sept 9, 2023 13:49:39 GMT -6
diehardtwinsfan: speaking of pick 6, I was staring at the Lions for the upset for a while... too bad I didn't pull the trigger Sept 9, 2023 21:27:56 GMT -6
Funkytown: If you haven't already, here is Pick 6 for Week 1: purplepainforums.com/thread/7075/purple-pains-pick-6-week Sept 9, 2023 23:42:39 GMT -6
Reignman: speaking of delusional names *whistle* ... I mean welcome to the board. Sept 10, 2023 20:31:49 GMT -6
Purple Pain: Pick 6 for Week 2 is up! Link: purplepainforums.com/thread/7130/purple-pains-pick-6-week Sept 13, 2023 9:59:49 GMT -6
Nemesis: Boy I missed a golden opportunity on Pick 6 tonite. Sept 14, 2023 20:27:28 GMT -6
Purple Pain: Pick 6 for Week 3 is up: purplepainforums.com/thread/7164/purple-pains-pick-6-week Sept 20, 2023 8:53:12 GMT -6
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