More Mediocrity Looms in Vikings' Future
By: Craig VanderKam
October 12, 2010
Brett Favre
When Brett Favre announced he was returning to the Minnesota Vikings for the 2010 season, the Vikings were instantly anointed as this season's NFC favorites. Favre said he owed it to the Vikings to return and "give it one more try" after losing to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game last year. Everyone knows how the story finished with the Saints beating the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV and the Vikings were left for six months not knowing if their starting quarterback would return for a 20th NFL season. In this time frame, Donovan McNabb and Jason Campbell were dealt elsewhere and the Vikings passed on Jimmy Clausen in the draft banking on Favre returning and making another run at the Super Bowl. This season the Vikings have also traded for Randy Moss yet stands at 1-3 and needs a miracle run to the playoffs or the Favre era in Minnesota will end with nothing to show for it and a daunting rebuilding task in front of them.

After the 2008 season, the Vikings were in a position to acquire a veteran quarterback and make a playoff run or consider a slight rebuild around a young quarterback. Minnesota chose to fill their team with veterans and go with a "win now" approach which has significantly narrowed their window of opportunity. Every move the team has made was good in the short term, but not one has had long term outlook in mind. Following that season, on offense the Vikings had a core of Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Visante Shiancoe with Bryant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk on the offensive line. They had Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Chad Greenway and Cedric Griffin defensively and rather than adding to their core, have added players to add to their small window and will pay for it when Favre retires. Pat Williams could retire with him, and the Vikings will be forced into a minimum 2-3 year rebuild trying to break in a new quarterback.

Consider a reasonable 2013 target year to complete a rebuild, Jared Allen and Kevin Williams will both be in their early-30s, and Adrian Peterson will be 28-years-old, about the age we see NFL running backs break down and on the downside of their careers. The current core of the Vikings players will at least be old enough that once they do develop a new quarterback, they will need to think about drafting at these positions again, and re-tooling from the ground up. Look back following the 2008 season and the Vikings had a good core of players all entering their prime or already in it, and the team chose to sell off the future to go for a Super Bowl in the following two years and they are going to come up empty-handed. Even drafting Jimmy Clausen this season would have been a far better move for the Vikings future than reaching for Chris Cook, but Cook was ready to come in and play immediately and that was a far superior motive for the Vikings as the Favre era comes to a close. If the Vikings lose two of their next three games, vs. Dallas, at Green Bay and at New England, their 2-5 record will all but indicate season over and leave fans wondering "what could have been." Brett Favre's charm has worn thin and no amount of milestones can repair how badly he has run the Vikings into the ground.

Take a look at the New England Patriots, the same team that traded Moss to the Vikings for a third-round pick, a perennial playoff team that looks toward the future and always builds their team with long-term success in mind. The Patriots traded Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders for a 2011 first-round pick prior to 2009 season and with their subsequent moves can consider drafting A.J. Green to replace Moss with the pick. While most teams acquire players, the Patriots acquire assets, and they do more than any other team to maximize how they use their assets. We constantly see New England coming out of every draft with future picks because the Patriots know the value of the assets they acquire are worth more than the assets they trade. New England has multiple selections in each of the first three rounds next year, and used one of two fourth-round picks they had owned to acquire Deion Branch from Seattle.

The Patriots acquired a 2011 second-round pick from Carolina so the Panthers could use the #89 selection in 2010 to reach for Armanti Edwards. Assume the pick from Carolina, currently 0-5, is in the mid-30s, then the Patriots can use the value of this pick to trade back into the first round or deal the pick for a future first the following year. In multiple draft-day moves last season New England traded #22 and #119 into picks #24, #90 and #113, where they drafted Devin McCourty, Taylor Price and Aaron Hernandez. While the Patriots seemed to have mastered adding future pieces to a perpetual playoff team, the Vikings have a long road in front of them as they rebuild their way back toward respectability.

(May 1) -- The NFL Draft is in the books and Sideline Scouting would like to thank our visitors for making this our most successful year to date. We hope you enjoyed our coverage. Sideline Scouting will be back next year and better than ever. We have some big changes planned that we hope will make your visits here even more enjoyable.

*Cameron Newton
QB, Auburn
Von Miller
LB, Texas A&M;
*Marcell Dareus
DE, Alabama
*A.J. Green
WR, Georgia
*Patrick Peterson
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