The Vikings got Brett Favre to come back because he was such a good fit in the 2009 Vikings locker room. What may have been the selling point was that so many of his teammates were also back -- an unprecedented lack of turnover that has only two non-drafted players on the 2010 roster that weren't there in 2009.
The news coming out of Winter Park centered primarily on those players who were released by the Vikings. But perhaps the thing fans should realize is the inordinate number of players from the 12-4 2009 Vikings team that are coming back.
The trade of Sage Rosenfels
and Darius Reynaud
took a pair of players away from the Vikings that would have been hard to justify releasing, because both had bona fide NFL talent. But, considering that they were two players that were on the 2009 roster, it's hard to count them as cuts – they weren't.
Every year, the combination of free agency and the draft result in turnover on NFL rosters. In 2009, the Vikings had five draft picks. All five made the 53-man roster. That didn't happen this year, but there was no way it could. Of the 53 players that survived the cuts, only eight weren't on the roster in 2009. Say what you want about Rosenfels' chances of making the final roster if a trade couldn't be struck, but, seeing as Reynaud was the team's primary punt returner in 2009, the chances of him staying on the team seemed all but assured pre-trade. Had a trade not been struck, it could be argued that only six roster spots would have gone to players that weren't on the roster in 2009.
I haven't done the math on this, but I would be willing to bet good money that no other team in the NFL has experienced such limited turnover from last season to this season. Of the eight players that are new to the 53-man roster, six of them were 2010 draft picks – Chris Cook
, Toby Gerhart
, Everson Griffen
, Chris DeGeare
, Joe Webb
and Mickey Shuler
. Considering that draft picks are beholden to the team that selected them, only two outside players made the 2010 Vikings roster. Those two are Lito Sheppard
, who the Vikings signed because they could get into the bidding for a player who was released, and Greg Camarillo
, who was acquired by trading cornerback Benny Sapp
to the Dolphins.
When Sidney Rice
comes off the physically-unable-to-perform list, it is likely to be one of those few players missing from the 2009 season that has to go to make room, reinforcing the similarities between the 2009 Vikings and the 2010 Vikings.
Whether the Vikings do or don't replicate their magical 2009 season – a term used by none other than No. 4, who was pretty intimately involved – one thing is certain: they will go into the 2010 season with as many horses from the previous year as they have in the era of free agency. The band has been put back together. Now the only question is, what kind of music will they make?
The Vikings' cuts really didn't come as much of a surprise following the trade of Rosenfels and Reynaud to the Giants. Of the 20 releases, the only one that was really surprising was the Vikings keeping Javon Walker and releasing Mickey Shuler. But there may end up being a method to that move. Because he is a vested veteran, if Walker had been on the 53-man roster heading into Week 1, his entire contract would be guaranteed. Don't be shocked if, after teams have set their practice squads, the Vikings release Shuler, re-sign Walker and then sign Shuler to the practice squad.
There were several high-profile players released in the final round of cuts that will draw interest from team's not tied into their previous contracts. Among those are Arizona QB Matt Leinart, Tennessee QB Chris Simms, Baltimore QB Troy Smith, Washington RB Willie Parker, New Orleans RB Ladell Betts, Seattle WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Baltimore WR Demetrius Williams, Buffalo WR James Hardy, Bengals WR Matt Jones, Cleveland WR Bobby Engram, Tampa Bay WR Michael Clayton, Philadelphia WR Kelley Washington, Pittsburgh center Justin Hartwig, Atlanta center Brett Romberg, Indianapolis OT Adam Terry, New Orleans DE Bobby McCray, Tennessee DE Raheem Brock, Cincinnati LB Abdul Hodge, Detroit CB Dre Bly, San Diego CB Nathan Vasher, Tennessee CB Tye Hill, Philadelphia safety Quintin Demps and Houston kicker Kris Brown.
Several former Vikings found the Turk asking for their playbooks as well, including Texans QB John David Booty, Jaguars WR Troy Williamson, Redskins WR Bobby Wade, Bears TE Richard Angulo, Browns DE C.J. Mosley, Redskins DE Darrion Scott, Chiefs linebacker David Herron, Lions LB Vinny Ciurciu, 49ers CB Karl Paymah, Redskins safety Tyrone Carter and Lions kicker Steven Hauschka.
The Giants left little doubt that they have plans for Sage Rosenfels, despite Eli Manning never missing an NFL game in his career since becoming a starter. The impetus to trade for Rosenfels was the season-ending injury to backup QB Jim Sorgi. When the Giants brought Rosenfels on board, they cut backup Rhett Bomar, assuring that Rosenfels will be the No. 2 quarterback.
The Rosenfels era in Minnesota started with him being told he could compete for a starting spot. Instead, he never "officially" played for the Vikings. He was the No. 3 QB for all 18 games and, while he suited up, he never was active for any of his 18 games with the Vikings.
The Vikings benched 20 of their 22 starters and may have the right idea. LenDale White, who had a tumultuous offseason in which he was traded to Seattle, where he was reunited (briefly) with his college head coach Pete Carroll, only to be released before taking part in a full minicamp, and picked up by Denver. There was positive talk about White from the Denver beat writers we talked to prior to Thursday's game, where the sentiment was that White would have a solid role in the Broncos running game. That was until he was injured against the Vikings. Initially deemed an ankle injury, turns out that White tore his Achilles tendon in his right leg and is lost for the season.
Labor Day Weekend is the last gasp of summer in Minnesota and has a pretty solid majority of Minnesota families on the road. VU will be on the road as well, except the road that leads to Winter Park. Because the Vikings play in the season-opening Kickoff Game on Thursday, the Vikings will be having practice Sunday and Monday. VU will be there to report on what happens as the Vikings start preparation for their return to the Bayou in hopes of saying "We Dat!" – the proper response to "Who Dat think they gonna beat them Saints."
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.