The free agency season in the National Football League is a huge part of the offseason, and in some ways it’s hard to believe that it’s only been around for a quarter of a century. Free agency in the NFL has only been a thing since 1993, but it’s one of the major things that fans of every team can look forward to during the offseason.
Over at NFL.com, Nick Toney has ranked his ten most shocking free agent signings in the NFL since it began, and the Minnesota Vikings appear on his list twice. In both cases, it involved the purple addressing the quarterback position.
Minnesota’s signing of Kirk Cousins this past offseason checks in at #10 on Toney’s list.
Experts knew Kirk Cousins was poised to strike it rich in free agency. They knew the Vikings might make a logical fit, too. What they didn’t know -- what we’re all still floored about -- is the guarantee. His entire three-year deal in Minnesota is fully-guaranteed. That hasn’t happened before in the NFL, but Cousins might’ve ushered in an entirely new era of quarterback compensation.
Now, there has been at least one quarterback contract that has been completed since then, when the Atlanta Falcons signed Matt Ryan to a big extension about six weeks after the Vikings signed Cousins. Ryan’s contract wasn’t fully guaranteed the way Cousins’ deal is, but his amount of guaranteed money was higher. So, we may have to pump the brakes on a new era of compensation at the quarterback position.
To find the Vikings’ other entry on this list, you have to go all the way to the very top spot. That’s where Toney has put the team signing Brett Favre before the start of the 2009 season.
If Brett Favre couldn’t join ‘em, he wanted to beat ‘em. After a season in the AFC, the Packers’ quarterbacking legend shockingly returned to his NFC North stomping grounds -- this time as a Viking. Those rematches were both a Cheeseheads worst nightmare and appointment television. We may never see an legendary NFL quarterback turn heel quite like that again.
I’m not sure how “shocking” Favre signing with the Vikings was. We all knew that, with the way things ended for him in Green Bay, he wanted another shot at the Packers, and the Vikings were more than willing to give it to him. So, while it’s one of the bigger signings in free agency history, I’m not sure if it qualifies as shocking, at least to those of us that had been keeping an eye on the situation.
Free agency has been a big part of the National Football League over the past quarter century, and the Minnesota Vikings have been right there in the middle of it.