Longwell signs with arch-rival Vikings

Ryan Longwell apparently felt the climate-controlled environment of the Metrodome in Minneapolis will be just as good as warmer weather. The Packers kicker reportedly signed a five-year contract worth $10 million today to kick for the arch-rival Minnesota Vikings.

Longwell's deal included a $3 million signing bonus, according to the Associated Press.

Longwell has been a scoring machine for Packers since 1997 when he made the team as an undrafted free agent. He adjusted to the often unfriendly confines of Lambeau Field to become the team's all-time leading scorer with 1,054 points. He owns a number of Packers individual records and has often knocked on the door to the Pro Bowl.

Now he'll get a chance to kick indoors most of the time and twice a year against his former team.

"I know the Vikings-Packers rivalry is about as heated as it gets," Longwell told reporters Saturday night. "I'm happy to be wearing purple and be on the other side of the battle for the next bunch of years."

Longwell struggled last season, but mainly because he had to ajust to two new holders. In 2005, he posted career lows in several categories, making only 74 percent of his field goals (20-for-27) and finished with 90 points. He went 6-for-10 between 30 and 39 yards and 3-for-5 between 40 and 49 yards.

Longwell delivered four game-winning kicks in 2004, including two against his new team, the Vikings.

Paul Edinger had modest success, including three game-winning field goals, as the Vikings' kicker last season. But he is a free agent and now likely won't be retained.

Longwell indicated during the season that he would like to kick with a warm-weather team. Many experts felt Longwell would try to sign with Tampa Bay and re-unite with former Packers punter and holder Josh Bidwell. But the Vikings' offer and chance to play at least eight games a season indoors apparently was too good to pass up.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson only made what Longwell's agent Frank Bauer suggested was a minimal move to keep him.

"I just felt like we made a very good offer," Thompson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Ryan had this choice and he made his choice. He's done well here. He kicked here for such a long time."

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