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If We Knew Then What We Know Now

Yesterday's article about quarterbacks that the Vikings have "missed" on over the years brought a few interesting comments out, but MarkSP18 made an interesting point. There was one, actual, honest-to-goodness "franchise quarterback" that we've missed on over the course of the last few years, when we didn't have a quarterback of our own that we were already developing and that went on to be a pretty good quarterback.

Yeah, we could have had him. . .but it would have required the team to not make one of the more successful trades in recent Vikings history.

The 2007 Minnesota Vikings had a couple of glaring needs. The offense had a dynamic young running back in Adrian Peterson who had just won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and set the NFL's single-game rushing record along the way. However, the passing offense was ranked 28th in the National Football League and spent the season rotating through three different quarterbacks (Tarvaris Jackson, Brooks Bollinger, Kelly Holcomb). Defensively, the Vikings' rush defense was the best in the NFL by a considerable margin. . .but, in terms of yards allowed, the Vikings were the worst in the NFL, due largely to the inconsistencies of their pass rush. Yes, the Vikings had 38 sacks that year, good enough to put them in the upper quarter of the league in that category, but they lacked that one dominant pass rush guy that needed to be accounted for on every play.

So, it was widely thought that the Minnesota Vikings had two major needs going into the 2008 season. . .quarterback and defensive end.

Thanks to the "poison pill" spat they had with the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings had an extra third-round draft choice. They had the 17th overall selection in the first round, as well as the 73rd and 82nd overall selections. There were two quarterbacks that year that carried a first-round grade. . .Boston College's Matt Ryan, who everybody knew was going to be taken in the top five selections (and was ultimately selected third by the Atlanta Falcons), and Delaware's Joe Flacco, whose stock went up and down a bit throughout the pre-draft process, but was ultimately taken at number 18 by the Baltimore Ravens. As mentioned, the VIkings had the 17th overall pick, and would have had the ability to select Flacco.

However, they chose to meet their other need instead.

All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen, coming off of a 15.5 sack season after missing the first two games of the season (and absolutely terrorized the Vikings in the first game he played that year) had made it clear that he had no interest in re-signing with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs had made him their franchise player, guaranteeing him a salary of around $9 million, but made it known that they were actively looking to trade Allen to the highest bidder. That bidder turned out to be the Minnesota Vikings, as they ponied up the 17th, 73rd, and 82nd picks in the 2008 draft to acquire Allen's services.

Allen has been an outstanding addition to the Minnesota Vikings, averaging about 13.5 sacks per season in the three years he's been in Minnesota and turning the Vikings' defense from a one-dimensional unit into one that has become significantly more balanced over the time he's been here.

Ultimately, the Vikings fulfilled their need for a pass rusher, but did so at the expense of missing out on the one potential "franchise quarterback" that they've really had a chance at over the past few years. Keeping those picks could have allowed the Vikings to get their hands on Joe Flacco, and use those third round selections to supplement their roster in other ways.

So, the question is this. . .knowing what we know now, if you could jump into the Wayback Machine and go back to the days leading up to the 2007 draft, would you still pull the trigger on that trade for Jared Allen, or would you hold on to the picks, take Joe Flacco at number 17, and take your chances down the track on finding a pass rusher?