5. Bob Grim, 1967
Fran Tarkenton started six years at quarterback for the Vikings. He was eventually traded to the New York Giants for a package of four draft picks. Minnesota used one of those selections on wide receiver Bob Grim, who put up decent, if unspectacular numbers over five seasons with the team. Grim was never fantastic, but he was a member of the 1969 NFL Championship squad, and played in Super Bowl IV. Grim made the Pro Bowl in 1971, and was sent to New York after the season, as Minnesota brought back Fran Tarkenton. Grim returned to the Vikings in 1976 and played his final two years with his original team.
4. Danielle Hunter, 2015
Hunter is one of the game’s most underrated pass-rushers, consistently ranking among the league’s best in total pressures. He’s yet to turn 26 years old, and is on a team-friendly contract through the 2023 season. Hunter is a shining example of how unpredictable the NFL Draft can be.
He totaled just 4.5 sacks over three seasons at LSU, and wound up as a late third-round pick by the Vikings. He tallied six sacks as a rookie and has 54.5 through five campaigns. The Vikings were able to coach him up to help him realize his excellent athletic ability, despite limited production in college. And what’s more, the pick that Minnesota used to select Hunter wasn’t even theirs to begin with.
After moving down from 76, the Vikings held the 80th selection in the third round, and moved down again with the Detroit Lions, sending 3.80 to Detroit for 3.88 and 4.143. Minnesota took Hunter at 88 and then got tight end MyCole Pruitt at 143, who has developed into a solid player with the Tennessee Titans. Hunter may not get the respect he deserves around the league, but he’s on a scorching pace to begin his career, and still hasn’t even reached his athletic prime.
3. Warren Moon, 1994
Moon is best known for his time with the Houston Oilers, but he also spent three years in Minnesota. At the age of 38, he was dealt to the Vikings for 4.119 in the 1994 NFL Draft and 3.89 in 1995, which equates to two fourth-rounders in value. Not bad for a future Hall of Famer. Despite his advanced age, Moon was still quite effective in Minnesota.
He had a rather middling 1994 campaign (although he still made the Pro Bowl), but put together one of the finest seasons of his career in 1995. The Vikings finished just 8-8, but that was no fault of Moon’s; he threw for 4,228 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He went 4-4 in eight starts the next year, giving way to Brad Johnson, and was cut after refusing to become the backup. Johnson had a nice 1997, but Moon wasn’t done yet, making the Pro Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks at the age of 41.
Moon may have had the shortest stint of any player on this list, but two fourth-round picks for one excellent season of QB play is more than worthy of a spot. Moon became a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2006, capping a legendary and trail-blazing career.
2. Fran Tarkenton, 1972
By 1972, the Minnesota Vikings were missing Fran Tarkenton an awful lot. They decided to bring him home, parting with Grim, two other players, a first-round pick in 1972, and a second-rounder in 1973.
Tarkenton’s second stint in Minnesota went better than his first, as he played seven more years, going 64-27-2 as a starter and never having a losing record. The Vikings won 10 or more games in three of those seasons, making five playoff appearances and playing in three consecutive Super Bowls, although the team failed to win the Lombardi Trophy. Tarkenton made the Pro Bowl each year from 1974 to 1976, and made his only All-Pro team in 1975 after tossing 25 touchdowns.
Tarkenton was one of the league’s first great statistical signal-callers, and held nearly every passing record when he retired following the 1978 season at the age of 38. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986 after two years of eligibility.
1. Jared Allen and John Sullivan, 2008
Allen was a great pass-rusher with the Kansas City Chiefs, collecting 43 sacks over four seasons and earning an All-Pro selection in 2007. Prior to the 2008 NFL Draft, the Vikings made a blockbuster trade, acquiring Allen and 6.187 for 1.15, 3.73, 3.82, and 6.182. Minnesota promptly signed Allen to a six-year contract worth over $73 million, which made him the highest-paid defender in NFL history. Allen earned every penny of that deal, registering 85.5 sacks in 96 games, missing zero contests.
The Chiefs’ return was a mixed bag. They took left tackle Branden Albert at 15, who played six solid seasons in Kansas City, but never quite lived up to his billing. Neither DaJuan Morgan nor Kevin Robinson did much of anything in the league. The 73rd pick, however, made this deal worth it for the team. Texas running back Jamaal Charles’ career was hampered and shortened by significant leg injuries, but when he was on the field and healthy, he was special.
What made this deal even better for Minnesota was what the sixth-round pick turned out to be. The Vikings ended up taking center John Sullivan, who had a long stretch as one of the NFL’s better interior linemen before retiring in 2019. Acquiring both Jared Allen and John Sullivan in the deal was clearly one of the Vikings’ best ever deals.