Since then, other teams have included poison pill provisions in restricted free agent contracts – in fact, Seattle tried the same with WR Nate Burleson, putting in a proviso that, if he played more than four games in the state of Minnesota, his full contract would be guaranteed. The Vikings started it and others followed.
At the end of last season, there wasn't much to be happy about in Vikings Country. Both Green Bay and Chicago were heading to the playoffs. Detroit was gaining buzz as a team to watch moving forward. The Vikings went from a 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty away from the Super Bowl to finishing in last place in the NFC North – not only the first time since the NFC North was the NFC North, but in 20 years – finishing last in what used to be called the NFC Central.
Everyone else was getting noticed. The Vikings were getting noticed for things like the end of Brett Favre's career, the collapse of the Metrodome roof, playing a home game in Detroit and playing on the first Tuesday Night Football game in league history. However, while the team was down, it didn't stop the wheels from turning.
It was clear when the calendar flipped to December that the Vikings were dead in the water and playing out the string. But, behind the closed doors at Winter Park, they weren't done working or mailing it in.
On Dec. 7, the Vikings signed United Football League running back Lorenzo Booker. A third-down, change-of-pace back the Vikings didn't have when Chester Taylor signed with Chicago, Booker was brought in to compete for that role in 2011.
That same day, the Vikings signed QB R.J. Archer, who was the property of the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League. Getting a special dispensation (he was placed on the Shock's "Other League Exempt" list).
On Dec. 16, defensive back Simeon Castille, who also played for the UFL in 2010, was signed to the team's practice squad.
Also on Dec. 16, the Vikings signed veteran quarterback Patrick Ramsey to close out the end of the season and get a look-over as a potential veteran backup that could return in 2011 if, let's say, the Vikings were to draft a rookie quarterback in the first round to go along with 2010 rookie Joe Webb.
On Dec. 21, a day after elevating Archer to the 53-man roster, he is released when the Vikings pluck Rhett Bomar off the Giants practice squad. He replaces Archer on the roster and, most likely, replaces Ramsey on the future's list.
On Jan. 1, the last day they can make such a move, the Vikings signed wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias off the Chicago Bears practice squad. His position with the team may be as the next Hank Baskett, but, as a third-round pick of the Bears in 2009, the Vikings saw value and went for it.
As fans await the official start to the 2011 NFL season, one thing that can be said is that the guys behind the scenes at Winter Park that wield the power didn't stop looking to improve the team even when they were down and out. There weren't many other teams that were raiding the UFL, Arena League rosters or other teams' practice squads. The Vikings did … all three.
Don't be shocked to see other teams follow suit. Without the benefit of undrafted free agents, the Vikings could have gone after under usual circumstances, their forward thinking brought players in that can potentially address need at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and the secondary in the final days of the 2010 season.
It was brilliant given the lack of movement that would be allowed after the season. Just as likely, others have taken notice and we will see more of the raids taking place in the years to come.
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.