Multiple former Vikings among worst free-agent signings in NFL history

Former Minnesota Vikings QB Sam Bradford
Former Minnesota Vikings QB Sam Bradford / Norm Hall/GettyImages

The history of the Minnesota Vikings is littered with several cases of buyer beware. Free agency has shown plenty of potential for teams across the National Football League, but sometimes another team’s trash just happens to be trash.

The Pick 6 proved this theory when they recently listed the worst free-agent signing by each of the 32 teams in NFL history.

While Minnesota had their own free-agent disaster, several Vikings castoffs made the list as they didn’t live up to the hype with their new team.

Multiple former Minnesota Vikings regarded as some of the worst free-agent signings in NFL history

The list begins with Sam Bradford, who signed a two-year, $40 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. Bradford began his career with the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams before making his way to the Philadelphia Eagles and was traded to the Minnesota Vikings in the wake of Teddy Bridgewater’s knee injury before the 2016 season.

Bradford was solid when he was on the field, setting a then-NFL record with a 71.6 percent completion rate in 2016. But knee issues forced him to the sideline after an impressive start for Minnesota against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 of the 2017 season and the Vikings turned to Kirk Cousins the following offseason.

Bradford lasted just three games with the Cardinals, throwing for 400 yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions before ceding to rookie Josh Rosen and being released in the middle of the 2018 season.

A pair of Minnesota’s former first-round picks also made the list in Matt Kalil and Trae Waynes.

Kalil was the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and made the Pro Bowl in his rookie year, but his own knee issues resulted in a decline in his performance. His rookie contract ended after the 2016 season, and Kalil signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Carolina Panthers before he was released at the end of the 2017 season.

Waynes was the 11th overall pick in Minnesota's famed 2015 NFL Draft class, but he didn’t reach the same level of success that Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter, and Eric Kendricks did. Waynes didn’t start his first two years and was average once placed into the starting lineup, but he still managed to sign a three-year, $42 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020.

Waynes suffered a torn pectoral muscle after training and appeared in just five games the following year before retiring after the 2021 season.

Other former Vikings on the list included Mike Wallace, who signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the Miami Dolphins in 2013 before being traded to the Vikings two years later, and Fred Smoot, who was more known for The Love Boat scandal than his on-field performance in two seasons with Minnesota.

The list shows that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side once players leave Minnesota, and there are sure to be more former Vikings that could wind up on the list down the line.

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