The Biggest Free Agency Busts in Minnesota Vikings History
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Pat Williams. Antoine Winfield. Darren Sharper. And Jerome Felton last offseason.
The signing of Steve Hutchinson in 2006 was named in an ESPN piece as the ninth-best signing in league history.
There's been a good run of success in plucking from the market.
But it hasn't been all roses.
Minnesota has had its fair share of scrubs, and that's the focus here: to glorify Minnesota's five worst free-agent signings ever.
Players make this list for not playing up to their contracts (being overpaid), having a fair amount of hype surrounding their signing and not living up to it, off-field issues and a poor on-field performance period.
The more of the above traits a player has the more likely he is to be the No. 1.
And it can't be a player who's currently under contract with the Vikings. That player still has a chance to redeem himself.
5. Koren Robinson, Wide Receiver
Koren Robinson surprised as a Pro Bowl kick returner in 2005, but was released before the 2006 season after a contract extension.
When Koren Robinson signed with Minnesota in 2005, it was written off as an insignificant move by most.
Robinson, a 2001 first-round pick, had battled alcohol issues and appeared to have washed out after posting a career year in 2002 (78 receptions for 1,240 yards and five touchdowns).
Minnesota signed him just before the start of the regular-season opener, and he didn't make his debut until Week 2.
He didn't make major moves as a wide receiver, but wowed as a kickoff returner, finishing the season on the NFC's Pro Bowl roster as a kick returner. He returned 47 kickoffs for 1,221 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, as a receiver, he showed glimpses of that 2002 skill with 22 catches for 347 yards and a touchdown.
Minnesota was impressed and signed him to a three-year contract extension for $12.7 million. Expectations came with the deal. Robinson was expected to contribute to the offense and special teams.
Cue the letdown.
Robinson ended his Vikings career with a high-speed chase near training camp. He was clocked at over 100 mph and found with alcohol on his breath.
And that was it. Minnesota cut him less than two weeks after the incident.
4. Brett Favre, Quarterback
No one can dispute the good Brett Favre did on the field in 2009 but the off-field circus and the woeful 2010 performance were pathetic.
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What is Brett Favre doing on this list?
Didn't he lead the Vikings to the 2009 NFC Championship Game? Yes, he did.
Didn't he deliver an MVP-caliber performance throughout 2009? Yes, he did.
Yes, Favre did have a phenomenal 2009 campaign (4,202 passing yards, 33 touchdown passes, seven interceptions, a 68.4 percent completion rate and a 107.2 passer rating). It was one of the best seasons of his career.
But pair that with his dreadful 2010 season (13 games, 11 touchdown passes, 19 interceptions, 60.6-percent completion rate and 69.9 passer rating), the two-year $25 million contract that was re-negotiated to nearly $20 million for 2010 and having to send a group of players to Hattiesburg, Miss., in a private jet to PERSUADE him to come back for $20 million left this deal on a bad note.
Had Favre just played 2009, this would have been one of the franchise's best signings—ever. He was phenomenal that year and earned every cent his contract paid him. But the off-field spectacle that transpired made the Vikings look pathetic and desperate. They became the laughingstock of the league, especially after Favre's 2010 campaign.
Instead of being the Minnesota Vikings in 2010, they became the Minnesota Favres.
3. Madieu Williams, Safety
Madieu Williams' signing with Minnesota in 2007 made him one of the league's highest-paid safeties.
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Pairing Madieu Williams with Darren Sharper was supposed to solidify Minnesota's defensive backfield for the foreseeable future.
Let's just say, it didn't work out that way. Williams was released after three seasons, and Sharper was gone one season later.
Williams' six-year, $33 million contract made him one of the league's highest-paid safeties, and at 26, he was expected to have a bright future ahead. He had nine interceptions the previous four seasons before signing with Minnesota, but had three in three years with the Vikings and only played all 16 games once.
The Maryland University product never had off-field issues like others on this list, as he was named the 2010 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. His character shouldn't be questioned, but his on-field performance should.
A neck injury caused him to miss the 2008 season's first seven games, coming back strong in the year's final nine (two interceptions and 42 tackles), but after that, things fizzled out quickly.
The coverage skills that made him a decorated safety with the Bengals evaporated, and he wasn't the most physical player to begin with, limiting his value.
2. Fred Smoot, Cornerback
Fred Smoot was all the hype when Minnesota signed him in 2005, and by the end of 2006, he was gone.
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This man once famously said, "Two-thirds of the world is covered by water. The other third is covered by Fred Smoot."
On the Politico truth scale that would earn a "pants on fire" rating. Smoot couldn't have covered a below-average wide receiver in a phone booth. He was that bad in coverage and was an inadequate tackler.
Smoot signed with the Vikings for $34 million over six years, including $10.5 million in bonuses in 2005. He was 25 years old, coming off a Pro Bowl season, and one story said Smoot would team with Antoine Winfield to form a "highly regarded pair of cornerbacks."
That didn't happen.
The 2001 second pick by the Washington Redskins never played a full season with Minnesota and recorded 104 tackles and snagged two interceptions during his two-year stint in Minnesota.
His on-field performance was dreadful. But he embarrassed the franchise further by his off-field behavior.
Smoot was a big player in what's known as the "Love Boat" incident, which goes down as one of the most embarrassing situations in franchise history.
A strong case can be made that he should be No. 1 on this list.
1. Bernard Berrian, Wide Receiver
Bernard Berrian caught 110 passes for 1,925 yards and seven touchdowns in four years with the Vikings.
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When the Vikings inked Bernard Berrian in 2008, they thought they were acquiring their downfield threat after struggling to replace Randy Moss.
At 6'1" and 185 pounds, Berrian had the speed to burn any opposing defender and the height to go over smaller defensive backs. He was just 27 years old when he signed with Minnesota for $42 million over six years with $16 million guaranteed.
Berrian had never posted a season with 1,000 yards, catching over 71 receptions or making more than six touchdown receptions, but Minnesota was confident he was a receiver on the verge of greatness.
The future should have been his.
As his presence on this list suggests, it didn't work out. The Associated Press listed Berrian as Minnesota's worst signing in the past five years, and it's deserved.
Berrian, the former Chicago Bear, teased fans with his 2008 season: 48 receptions for 964 yards and seven touchdown receptions.
It only went down from there.
In each of the next three seasons, Berrian's receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions declined (minus 2009 when he caught 55 passes).
By the end of 2011, Berrian found himself at the end of Minnesota's bench and his tenure as a Viking nearing its undramatic conclusion as he was released two years before his contract expired.
Before he was released, he had an embarassing Twitter war with Minnesota state legislator and Iraq War veteran John Kriesel.