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"Vikings West" Not Necessarily Seattle's Best

Tom Szczerbowski

Over the past decade or so, a number of players (and one coach) have gone from being members of the Minnesota Vikings to being members of the Seattle Seahawks, whether via trade or free agency. This has led many folks to start referring to the Seahawks as "Vikings West." But making the move out to the west coast has not necessarily worked out for those players over the years.

In light of receiver Percy Harvin being in the news again. . .and I meant to do this article much earlier than this, and apologize for not doing so. . .let's take a look back.

Nate Burleson

Burleson is the one that sort of started the "pipeline" from Minnesota to Seattle after the "poison pill" debacle. To remind everyone what happened with all that, here's the sequence of events:

-Seahawks place "transition" tag on free agent guard Steve Hutchinson, meaning he can sign offer sheets from other teams and, if the Seahawks didn't match, they would not get compensation.
-Vikings sign Hutchinson to 7-year, $49 million offer sheet that contains a clause that if Hutchinson was not the highest paid offensive lineman on the team, his contract would become fully guaranteed.
-Seahawks don't match offer sheet, allowing Hutchinson to come to the Vikings.
-Seattle gets "revenge" in this by signing Burleson to an identical 7-year, $49 million offer sheet containing a clause saying that Burleson's contract would become fully guaranteed if he played more than five games in the state of Minnesota.
-Obviously, the Vikings didn't match, and Burleson went on to Seattle.

Of course, because Burleson was a restricted free agent and not someone that had been tagged, the Seahawks had to send a third-round draft choice to Minnesota in exchange. I don't know about you, but I still trade Nate Burleson for Steve Hutchinson and a third-round pick in that scenario. Or any scenario, really.

Burleson struggled in his first season in Seattle thanks to injuries, but had a couple of decent years with the Seahawks as well. In 2007, he found the end zone 11 times (9 touchdown catches, 1 kick return, 1 punt return), and had a decent year in 2009 as well. Hutchinson, on the other hand, is a future Hall of Famer.

Ironically, the third-round pick the Vikings got for Burleson was used as part of a trade-up in the 2006 NFL Draft in order for the Vikings to select. . .

Tarvaris Jackson

Tarvaris Jackson is a guy that you're not going to hear me saying a whole lot of bad things about. Yes, he wasn't a great quarterback in Minnesota and was probably drafted a couple of rounds earlier than he should have been (which isn't his fault). He also did some good things in Minnesota, and he handled the whole circus with Brett Favre about as well as anybody could have expected.

Jackson went to Seattle prior to the 2011 season, and put up a decent season for the team that year as the starting quarterback. He threw for over 3,000 yards and having more touchdown passes than interceptions for a Seahawks team that went 7-9. (They went 0-2 without him.) Then, during the 2012 off-season, the Seahawks made the mistake of believing that Matt Flynn was a legitimate NFL quarterback, and signed him to a big contract. Shortly after that, they traded Jackson to the Buffalo Bills. He spent only one year in Buffalo before returning to the Seahawks to serve as Russell Wilson's backup.

Jackson did get a Super Bowl ring in Seattle, as did a couple of other folks we'll highlight, but was much more of a bit player on that Seahawks team. Still, like I said, good for him. He's one of the guys I'm happy for in that regard.

Sidney Rice

In the 2011 off-season, the Vikings had a decision to make. They had three prominent free agents ready to hit the street (Rice, linebacker Chad Greenway, and defensive end Ray Edwards), and could really only keep one of them. They chose Greenway, leaving Edwards to sign with the Atlanta Falcons and Rice to make his way to Seattle.

Much like the majority of his career in Minnesota, injuries kept Rice from fully get rolling with the Seahawks. In his three seasons in Seattle, he played in all 16 games just once, missing time with an assortment of injuries. In the year he played all 16 games, 2012, he had seven touchdown receptions and helped the Seahawks get into the playoffs. He announced his retirement prior to the start of the 2014 season after seven years in the NFL.

It appears that the Vikings made the right decision in that 2011 off-season, as Greenway has been a big part of the Vikings' defense since then. As for Ray Edwards, well. . .

Ray Edwards KOs Foe with Phantom Punch by CineSport

Heath Farwell

Farwell was a core special teams guy for the Vikings, and has played that role in Seattle as well. He earned a Pro Bowl berth for his special teams work with the Vikings in 2009, and hasn't reached that level yet with Seattle. He is currently on injured reserve for the Seahawks with a groin injury.

Darrell Bevell

Bevell served as the Vikings' offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2010, and after the firing of Brad Childress, Bevell moved on to Seattle, where he has been since the 2011 season. Bevell, as is the case with a lot of coordinators, looked a lot better when he had more talent on his team to work with.

Here's a look at how Bevell's offenses have fared during his time as an NFL offensive coordinator.

Year Team Points/Game Rank Yards/Game Rank
2006 Minnesota Vikings 17.6 26th 308.9 23rd
2007 Minnesota Vikings 22.8 15th 336.2 13th
2008 Minnesota Vikings 23.7 12th 330.9 17th
2009 Minnesota Vikings 29.4 2nd 379.6 5th
2010 Minnesota Vikings 17.6 29th 314.9 23rd
2011 Seattle Seahawks 20.1 23rd 303.8 28th
2012 Seattle Seahawks 25.8 9th 350.6 17th
2013 Seattle Seahawks 26.1 8th 339.0 18th

Thus far in 2014, the Seahawks are 8th in the NFL in scoring (26.5 ppg) and 14th in yardage (357 yards/game).

Bevell's best season was obviously the 2009 season in Minnesota, when everything was clicking on offense and the team was loaded with talent everywhere. Bevell has had some decent offenses in Seattle, but a good part of that probably has to do with the quality of the Seattle defense, particularly last season. Bevell was named as a head coach possibility for several teams this past off-season. . .to be honest, I'm not totally sure why.

Percy Harvin

We've been over this. Harvin hated being in Minnesota for whatever reason, threw a fit in order to get to Seattle, got into fights with teammates, disrespected coaches (like he did in Minnesota), and ultimately got sent to the New York Jets for a sixth-round draft choice (that could be as high as a fourth round pick). Even after the money they already dumped on him, this is really addition by subtraction for Seattle. I'm sure that the Jets will find out the same thing soon enough.

In exchange for Harvin, Minnesota got the draft picks that turned into cornerback Xavier Rhodes and running back Jerick McKinnon, neither of whom has refused to go into a game after the coach has told them to. Or punched a teammate, for that matter.

Kevin Williams

The long-time stalwart at defensive tackle for the Vikings, and one of the better defensive tackles in team history, Williams appeared to be hoping the Vikings would bring him back, but went to Seattle when it turned out he wasn't in Minnesota's plans. It was tough to see the big man go to the west coast, but it appears that the Vikings made a good decision on him. In six games so far with the Seahawks (only one of which was a start), Williams has 14 tackles, one sack, and two passes defended.

So, yes, we have seen a lot of players make the transition from being Vikings to being Seahawks over the years. In many cases, however, it has been the right decision for the Vikings to let those players leave. It appears that players only head to "Vikings West" after the Vikings have already gotten their best.