Trades happen every season around the NFL.
Every so often, though, a trade of a talented player stands out as a marquee transaction. NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison recently looked back over NFL history and opined the “top 20 traded players,” a list that included three Vikings who were traded to or from Minnesota. He wrote:
To determine who the top traded players are, shouldn't what they did afterward count? If a guy can only produce with one franchise, or only in that one team's scheme, is he really an elite player? If you only count how prolific a player is before he was traded, then what about all those who were incredible after they were dealt?
All three Vikings are now in the Hall of Fame, starting with (in reverse order of Harrison’s listing) Paul Krause, who was ranked at No. 15. Minnesota acquired the safety from Washington in 1968. Krause went on to play through 1979, when he retired as the league’s all-time interceptions leader with 81 – a number that likely will never be caught.
Before he was traded to the Vikings and started four Super Bowls for Bud Grant’s Minnesota teams, he was a standout safety for the Redskins. Krause led the league in interceptions as a rookie with 12, and over four seasons in Washington, he totaled 28, which would be a career figure for some folks. In the days when the free safety’s job was often to play a roaming center field, Krause was the most dangerously effective. He didn’t mind taking a chance on jumping a route, consistently providing the Vikings offense with a short field. Krause helped Minnesota improve from a three-win team to eight wins during his first season there. Partially due to his ball-hawking skills, the Vikings allowed the fewest points in the league every year from 1969 to 1971.
Coming in at No. 11 on Harrison’s list was Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, who played for the Vikings from 1998-2005 before being traded to the Raiders. He was traded by Oakland in 2007 to New England, and in 2010 Moss rejoined the Vikings after a trade with the Patriots.
And just ahead of him at No. 10, the highest-ranked Vikings player by Harrison, was Fran Tarkenton. The quarterback was traded to the Giants by the Vikings in 1967 but in 1972 was traded back to Minnesota.
The second deal listed above is the one worth focusing on. Big Blue never really recovered from the retirement of Y.A. Tittle following the 1964 campaign – even acquiring the ever-scrappy Tarkenton, who competed his butt off for the Giants, couldn't fix that. Whereas by the early ’70s, the Vikes had drafted great talent on the defensive side of the ball, including 1971 MVP Alan Page (a defensive tackle). All they needed was a solid QB. Tarkenton gave them a Hall of Fame-caliber signal-caller, taking Minnesota to the Super Bowl three times while winning an MVP himself in 1975.
Harrison’s top three traded players of all time were WR Paul Warfield (Browns to Dolphins, 1970), RB Marshall Faulk (Colts to Rams, 1999) and LB Ted Hendricks (Colts to Packers, 1974; Packers to Raiders, 1975).
The Vikings attended SKOL night at Target field this week prior to the Minnesota Twins game against the Los Angeles Angels.
FA rookie Keenoy talks ties to Gophers head coach
The Vikings bolstered their roster through the rookie free agent pool, including the addition of Western Michigan center John Keenoy.
According to Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune, Keenoy was recruited out of East Kentwood High School (Michigan) in 2015 by then-Broncos Head Coach P.J. Fleck, who went on to take the helm for the University of Minnesota in 2017.
Hartman spoke with Keenoy about his connection with Fleck and the ways the coach helped him develop.
“I was a local kid, so you know [Fleck] was really passionate about bringing local kids in who cared about the program and wanted to see it do well,” Keenoy told Hartman. “As I got to know Coach Fleck and the staff, you can just see their energy on a day-to-day basis, of how true of a person he is and how much he wants you to succeed. That’s how I fell in love with Coach Fleck.”
Keenoy said he appreciated Fleck taking “a shot on me” as an undersized player at the time.
Keenoy said that what you see is what you get with Fleck, and the center came to respect that. He also praised two of Fleck’s assistants who eventually joined Fleck at Minnesota, offensive line coach Brian Callahan and offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca.
“I owe a lot of what I am today because of him and Coach Callahan and Coach Ciarrocca. Him and the staff that he surrounds kids with today, it is great,” Keenoy said.
Now Keenoy will try and stick with a Vikings squad desperately trying to improve their offensive line depth.
“A couple other teams [talked to me], but none that offered me the opportunity the Vikings have,” he told Hartman. “I have been blessed. It’s a chip on my shoulder, another opportunity to do what I love.
“... I was super-excited [to join the Vikings]. One of the first people that reached out to me was Coach Fleck. He said if I need anything while I was here to hit him up. I’ll probably go over there and visit them. I was really excited to be almost like home.”