EDIT: I made a mistake in the original article. This is actually Steve Hutchinson’s second year of eligibility for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, not his first. Original post follows.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced their list of semifinalists that are eligible for the Class of 2019, and while there’s only one player on the list with any real connection to the Minnesota Vikings, it’s a guy that has a pretty solid chance of reaching Canton. . .perhaps not on the first ballot, but at some point in the near future.
Steve Hutchinson, who came to the Vikings in controversial fashion and was an outstanding guard for the team for the later half of the 2000s, is among the 25 players that were named earlier today. You can see the full list below.
Hutchinson was the 17th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft out of the University of Michigan by the Seattle Seahawks, and he spent the first five seasons of his career in the Pacific Northwest. In 2006, the Seahawks placed the “transition” tag on Hutchinson in an effort to keep him in free agency. The Vikings then signed him to an offer sheet that was controversial because it contained what was called a “poison pill.”
There was a clause in the offer sheet that said that if Hutchinson was not the highest-paid offensive lineman on the roster, the entirety of his contract. . .a seven-year, $49 million deal. . .would become fully guaranteed. As the Seahawks had just signed tackle Walter Jones to a contract worth more than that, matching the Vikings’ offer sheet would have immediately guaranteed Hutchinson’s entire deal with the contract. The Seahawks appealed to the league, but the league said the offer sheet was acceptable, and so Hutchinson became a Viking. After that, and the ensuing offer sheet the Seahawks gave receiver Nate Burleson that would become fully guaranteed if Burleson played five games in the state of Minnesota, the NFL banned the use of “poison pills” in offer sheets going forward.
Chicanery aside, however, Hutchinson was an outstanding player for the Vikings. He was a second-team All-Pro in his first year with the Vikings in 2006, and a first-team All-Pro for three consecutive years after that. He paved the way for Adrian Peterson to rush for over 1,000 yards every year they played together for the Vikings except 2011 (where Peterson ran for 970 yards in a season where he missed four games), and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2000s.
Hutchinson was released by the Vikings in March of 2012, and then played for the Tennessee Titans for one season before announcing his retirement. This is his first year of eligibility for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Like I said in the opening paragraph, I don’t know if Steve Hutchinson is going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but I do think that he’s going to get into Canton at some point. Congratulations to Hutchinson on being named one of this year’s semifinalists.