It is a tired old narrative that the Minnesota Vikings like to pick up the Green Bay Packers' castoffs. However, it has proven itself to be true over the past decade, and has been proven twice over this off-season with the Vikings signing both wide receiver Greg Jennings and linebacker Desmond Bishop to free agent contracts. With two more names to add to the list, let's take a look back at some of the other players who have made the 250-mile move west and how they fared both in Green and Gold and in Purple.
Darren Sharper, safety (moved to Minnesota in 2005)
Before leaving Green Bay, Sharper had become one of the top ball-hawking safeties in the NFL. In the five seasons preceding his departure, he had no fewer than four interceptions in any of them and was responsible for at least seven turnover plays each year (interception, forced fumble, or fumble recovery). His first season in Minnesota was his best there, however - in 2005, he posted nine picks (two returned for scores), but dropped off to four each of the next two seasons and one in his final year in a Vikings uniform. Sharper did have a resurgence when he left Minnesota for New Orleans, earning All-Pro honors in 2009 as he led the Super Bowl-winning Saints defense.
Ryan Longwell, kicker (2006)
The Packers' all-time leader in points scored (with 1,054, which beats second-place Don Hutson by over 200 points) followed Sharper to the Vikings a year later. He went through a down year by his standards in 2005, hitting just under 75% of his field goals, despite hitting 4 of 5 from 50 yards or more. In his five years as a Vikings, Longwell hit 113 of his 129 attempts, good for 87.6%, and never had a single season with more than five misses.
Robert Ferguson, wide receiver (2007)
Ferguson was only a primary starter for a short time in Green Bay, playing behind the likes of Donald Driver and Javon Walker. He did start 12 games in 2003, catching 38 passes for 520 yards and four touchdowns. However, he could not stay healthy and played only four games in 2006 before being released during training camp in August of 2007. The Vikings snatched him up quickly and he started eight games for them that year, catching 32 balls for 391 yards and a score, but he was relegated to backup duty the following season and was out of football after 2008.
Brett Favre, quarterback (2009)
Of course, we have to address the biggest name of all. I won't rehash the details of Favre's departure from Green Bay - suffice it to say that he had a solid year in 2007 with the help of Ryan Grant's emergence and a good pass rush and helped the Packers to a 13-3 record. The agonizing end to the season came because of his last pass in a Packers uniform, however.
After his one year in a Jets uniform, Favre of course made his way to Minnesota where he led the Vikings again to the NFC Championship Game, only to throw a late interception with his team looking for the winning score. Favre's final season in 2010 was a disappointment, as he finally saw his consecutive starts streak end due to injury late in the year. Favre famously swept both games against Green Bay in 2009, only to lose twice to Aaron Rodgers and company in 2010.
Javon Walker, of course, was not included in this list because he only went through training camp in Minnesota but never played a game.
Time will tell whether Bishop and Jennings end up more like Sharper or like Ferguson as they take their careers west. One thing is certain - there is most definitely a trend here, and it does not show any signs of slowing down.