Vikings owe Browns a Valentine

The calendar has flipped to February. Is it time for the Vikings to plan their Valentine's gift for the Cleveland Browns, the affection of recent trades that netted some talented players?

As the calendar turns to February, thoughts of Valentine's Day and the gift-buying process come to mind. As we get inundated with reminders that Valentine's Day is nearing, it serves as a reminder that gifts should be bought for those who mean a lot to you.

In the spirit of the Valentine's Day, the Vikings should consider buying something nice for the Cleveland Browns because, if not for the Cleveland organization, the Vikings could have a much different look as a team.

Over the last couple of years, the Vikings have made draft-related trades with Cleveland that impacted the Minnesota roster. In 2010, the Vikings traded defensive end Jayme Mitchell to the Browns for a 2012 draft pick – a move that opened the door to future deals.

In 2011, the Vikings traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Browns for two sixth-round picks, which Minnesota used to take offensive tackle DeMarcus Love and safety Mistral Raymond. Raymond worked his way in and out of the starting lineup and Love, who was placed on injured reserve early in the 2012 season, remains on the roster.

In 2012, the Vikings swung a pre-draft trade with the Browns, allowing Cleveland to move in front of the Vikings to select running back Trent Richardson. The Vikings dropped back one spot and were able to select the player they wanted all along – offensive tackle Matt Kalil. As part of that deal, the Vikings acquired a pair of mid-round picks, which they used to take wide receiver Jarius Wright and defensive back Robert Blanton – adding depth at two positions that were pre-draft areas of need.

The Mitchell trade came back to roost in the sixth round of last year's draft. Armed with a sixth-round pick from the Mitchell deal, it gave the Vikings the ammunition needed to make a gutsy late-round pick and draft a kicker, which turned out to be Blair Walsh.

Thanks to deals with the Browns, the Vikings were able to add a pair of rookie Pro Bowlers in Kalil and Walsh, as well as potential key contributors in Wright, Blanton and Love. Whether it ends up being a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates, at a minimum, the Vikings owe the Browns a card of thanks letting them know that they appreciate the role Cleveland has played in the rebuilding of the Vikings' roster because, without the trades the Vikings have made over the last three seasons with Cleveland, the Minnesota roster could look much different – reason enough to give the Browns a token of thanks.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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