Seahawks series deep with roster retaliation

There is no geographical rivalry between Minnesota and Seattle, but ever since the "poison pill" of 2006 with Steve Hutchinson, there have been plenty of financial plays.

The history of the Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks runs deep. Their expansion roster included Vikings Bob Lurtsema and Sam McCullum. Their first head coach, Jack Patera, came to Seattle from Minnesota and still lives in Seattle. More recently, the history between the Vikings and the Seahawks, while not a rivalry, has gotten a little chippy.

The relationship took the next level when Seattle failed to put the proper price tag on habitual Pro Bowler Steve Hutchinson and made him a transition free agent. That meant another team in need of a left guard could make an offer that the player and his agent would find hard to refuse and, if it was reasonable, could be matched by the home team.

The Vikings introduced the world to the Poison Pill – a contract stipulation that set the terms of a deal that made it nearly impossible for the original team to match. Over Hutchinson's left shoulder was nine-time Pro Bowler Walter Jones. The Vikings put a caveat in their offer sheet that, if Hutchinson wasn't the highest paid player on the offensive line, his entire contract would be guaranteed or he would have to be cut.

It was a business masterstroke. The Seahawks had just signed Jones to a jumbo contract worthy of a Pro Bowl left tackle and, from the strictly business sense, they couldn't commit to the Hutchinson contract knowing that, after one season, the entire amount would be guaranteed. The Vikings had no such concerns. For at least two years, Hutch was guaranteed to be the highest paid offensive lineman on the Vikings, so the risk for the reward was minimal.

Seattle declined to match and Hutchinson became a fixture on the Vikings O-line. The Seahawks could have avoided the poison pill eventuality by putting the franchise tag on Hutch. They didn't. The Vikings took advantage. Now retired, Hutchinson even made his Twitter handle @poinsonpill76. Other organizations in the NFL raised a collective eyebrow at the Vikings' move and learned something new.

Since then, it would appear that Seattle's professional retribution has been confined to the wide receiver position. When the Vikings put the identical transition tag on Nate Burleson, the Seahawks took the bait and put a stipulation in his offer sheet (the counter-poison pill provision) limiting the number of games Burleson could play in Minnesota without triggering a similar guarantee of his contract. The Vikings hastily declined … for all the right reasons, and the NFL sent out a warning to teams about the use of the "poison pill."

Sidney Rice would follow Burleson. Percy Harvin would follow Rice. Throw in Darrell Bevell, Tarvaris Jackson and Heath Farwell and you have a Vikings West in Washington.

The Vikings don't have a natural rivalry with the Seahawks, but, if recent history has told us anything, their rivalry runs a little deeper than most non-division opponents. There always seems to be a little more intensity to Vikings-Seahawks games, perhaps because of the organizational cross-pollination that has taken place since the Vikings introduced "poison pill" to the NFL lexicon. Harvin is just the latest chapter in that story.


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.

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