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Let’s make a deal: Ed White involved in perhaps the first sign-and-trade in pro sports

The Vikings felt they had little choice but to accommodate Stefon Diggs’ request for a trade last month when they sent the disgruntled wide receiver to Buffalo for four draft picks, including the Bills’ first-rounder and two others in this year’s draft.

It wasn’t the first time the Vikings have traded a high-profile player either because he wanted out or because there was an overwhelming feeling that it was time for a divorce. This doesn’t mean that all of these moves turned out to be bad ones, but it does mean a pretty good player (or even an outstanding one) was lost.

Today, we give you the fifth and final edition of high-profile players the Vikings dealt (not guys who left as free agents, were released or near the end) and how it worked out. So far we’ve covered the trades of Randy Moss, Fran Tarkenton, Percy Harvin and Chris Doleman. This time it’s …


Time with Vikings:  Selected in the second round of the 1969 draft out of California with a pick obtained from the New York Giants in the Fran Tarkenton trade, White had been a nose guard in college but was moved to offensive guard in the NFL. He playd in all 14 regular-season games as a rookie, started six games in 1970 and started every game at left guard in 1971. White remained the permanent starter at left guard through 1974 before moving to right guard the following season. White was selected to the Pro Bowl for three consecutive years (1975-77), despite starting only eight of 13 games because of injury in the final season of that run. That also was his last year with the Vikings. White was on the Vikings’ roster for all four of their Super Bowl appearances and started in three of them.

What ended White’s time in Minnesota? White was unable to reach a contract agreement with the Vikings after the 1977 season. He became a free agent but received no qualifying offer from another team — not a surprise in those days of very restricted free agency. The Vikings, according to the New York Times, arranged a trade with the Chargers, who agreed to pay White what he wanted. In what qualified as a sign-and-trade, White signed a contract with the Vikings on the Chargers terms and was then immediately dealt.

The trade: White was sent to the Chargers for running back Rickey Young on July 28, 1978.

How it worked out for the Vikings: Young, a running back, had an immediate impact with the Vikings catching an NFL-best 88 passes for 704 yards and five touchdowns in 1978. Young was an exellent fit in the Vikings’ offense and caught 292 passes for 2,255 yards and 14 touchdowns in six seasons and 89 games with the franchise before retiring after the 1983 season. He also rushed for 1,744 yards and 10 touchdowns on 554 carries with the Vikings.

How it worked out for White: White played eight more seasons with the Chargers and started 117 of the 119 games in which he played. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1979 — he also was a four-time, second-team All-Pro selection in 17 NFL seasons — but it long has been felt that White’s impact on the offensive line for both the Vikings and Chargers was never truly appreciated nationally. Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993, has said White belongs in Canton as well. White was one of the strongest players in the NFL during his playing days and also outweighed many of the other linemen in an era where guys on the offensive line did not bulk up like they do now. White was voted one of the 50 greatest Vikings in 2010 and he also has been enshrined in the Chargers Hall of Fame.

The verdict: Young played in all 16 games for the Vikings in all but one of his seasons in Minnesota, but the now-72-year-old White was one of the top offensive linemen in the game and when he retired after the 1985 season no offensive lineman had played in more games (241) than White. One has to think there were some with the Vikings who wished they had paid him his asking price in 1977.

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