Ferguson Hoping for Return to Purple

Robert Ferguson wasn't in the top 100 receivers in the NFL this year, but he saw a rebound in his career during his first season with the Vikings. See what he had to say about his approach to free agency this year.

The most veteran NFL wide receiver on the Vikings in 2007 would like to add to his seniority by sticking with the Vikings for 2008 and beyond.

There are several reasons for that sentiment from Robert Ferguson, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agency in March. First among them is his familiarity with the Vikings offense.

"I've been in this particular system for 10 years. It was identical to what I ran in college. I actually ran this offense in junior college," he said, adding in a December interview that he had no big desire to learn another system. "I probably could install this offense at this point. It suits me. It's a catch-and-run and run-after-the-catch type of deal. … What this offense thrives off of is breaking tackles."

In the last month of the season, Ferguson said his former team, the Green Bay Packers, was leading the NFL in yards after catch, an important statistic in a quick-throwing scheme. But Ferguson also said that the whole NFC North runs a similar offense, with former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz adding some wrinkles.

Ferguson's seven NFL seasons with the offense made him a valuable resource for a young group of receivers trying to understand the flexibility offered in some of the routes they run.

"I understood it right off the bat. When I came here, I actually talked to some of the younger guys that were kind of like that (running routes exactly as they were drawn in the playbook). There is a lot of leeway in this offense, especially when you get bumped," he said.

Ferguson came to the Vikings on Aug. 21, 2007, and signed only a one-year deal. He did it with the intention of proving his value and hoping for a breakout season. While none of the team's receivers put up numbers strong enough to warrant huge contracts in the coming years, Ferguson did have the most second-most receptions of his career.

Despite starting only half of the games in 2007, Ferguson was the team's second-leading receiver with 32 catches for 391 yards. It turned out to be the second-most receptions and receiving yardage of his career.

"When you've been around the league as long as I've been around, you find it's the smart thing to do, just sign a one-year deal and feel it out from there. With three years, I hadn't had much production to get a lucrative contract, so to speak, so sign a one-year contract and then go back and see what you can get."

That doesn't mean that he wants to get away from the Vikings and head for his third team in three years. Quite the opposite.

It took him three years with Green Bay to reach his career highs of 38 catches for 520 yards in 2003, making 12 starts in 15 games. Since then, he started only 13 games over the next three years combined. Therefore, his resurgence, although not even cracking the top 100 in the league in 2007, has him thinking the best scenario might be a return to the Vikings.

"This is my first time being an unrestricted free agent, so it fairly new to me. I'm not worried about that at all," he said. "I'd rather just get something done. I'm not actually looking forward to being unrestricted."

"I feel great here. I fit in great with the locker room, with the pass offense. I love it."

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