With big question marks at receiver, the Vikings were able to swing a trade that put a starting receiver in their fold and eliminated a player at a position of increasing depth in the past year.
Former Dolphins receiver Greg Camarillo was acquired by the Vikings in exchange for cornerback Benny Sapp.
Camarillo was originally acquired by the Dolphins on waivers from the San Diego Chargers in 2007 and started immediately contributing. That year he played in 15 games and caught eight passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, including a 64-yarder for an overtime win against Baltimore.
He quickly moved into a bigger role the following year. In 2008, Camarillo started all 11 games in which he played before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament on Nov. 23, but he still finished the season with 55 catches for 613 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a career-high 11 catches in against Denver on Nov. 2.
Last year, with Chad Henne as his quarterback, Camarillo started 16 games and had similar numbers – 50 catches for 552 yards. He led the team in receptions four times and receiving yards three times.
He spent the 2005 season on the Chargers' practice squad and was inactive for the first 12 games of the 2006 season.
Sapp turned into a nice insurance policy for the Vikings the last two years, but as the team increased its depth and talent at cornerback, this offseason especially, he became more expendable. However, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said the trade wasn't necessarily an indication of the progress that youngsters Asher Allen (second year) and Chris Cook had made at the position.
"Benny is a good player for us, did a great job for us when he was here. (He) really helped us out down the stretch a year ago and I wish him the best with his new team," Frazier said. "… The decision was made with different things going into it."
The main factors: The Vikings' need for help at the receiver position after Sidney Rice's hip surgery that is expected to sideline him for the first half of the season and Percy Harvin's struggles with migraines.
Sapp originally signed with the Vikings as an unrestricted free agent in 2008 and was active for 14 games, making four starts, including three in a row as a nickel back. He tied for the team high in interceptions with two that year.
Last year, his role increased even more when Antoine Winfield missed six straight games because of a fractured foot, forcing Sapp into a starting spot at left cornerback. During that span, he had 25 tackles, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles. He ended up starting a career-high seven games.
With Winfield's foot problems last year and starting right cornerback Cedric Griffin's torn anterior cruciate ligament in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 24, the Vikings were clearly on a mission to boost depth in the secondary during the offseason.
They drafted Chris Cook in the second round and signed former Eagles Pro Bowler Lito Sheppard as a free agent. In addition to the maturation of 2009 third-round draft choice Asher Allen, Sapp had fallen to essentially a third-team cornerback in the Vikings' training camp this year.
He also wasn't helped by the fact that he suffered heat stroke on opening weekend, a complication that resulted in a trip to the hospital and a week's worth of missed practices.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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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