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Let’s make a deal: What was the Vikings’ rush to trade Chris Doleman?

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 Part IV 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 and Percy Harvin. This time it’s …


Time with Vikings: Taken with the fourth-overall pick in the 1985 draft out of Pittsburgh, Doleman spent his first two seasons as a linebacker before moving to defensive end. It changed Doleman’s career. In his third season, Doleman had 11 sacks and an NFL-leading six forced fumbles. Two years later, he led the NFL with 21 sacks. Five times in his first nine seasons with the Vikings, Doleman registered double-digit sack totals. Doleman had 88.5 sacks, 29 forced fumbles (14 recovered) and five interceptions (two touchdowns) from 1985 to 1993. He was a first-team All-Pro selection twice and was selected to the Pro Bowl six times during that period. Off the field, Doleman was known for being one of the only NFL players to carry a briefcase into the locker room each day. 

What ended Doleman’s time in Minnesota? Doleman played two seasons for Dennis Green in Minnesota before the Vikings decided to move on from him at the age of 32. He had started all 16 games for a sixth consecutive season and had 12.5 sacks for the Vikings in 1993. Minnesota went 9-7 that season, finishing second in the NFC Central and lost to the New York Giants in a wild card game.

The trade: The Vikings sent Doleman to Atlanta with a 1994 second-round pick (45th overall) for a 1994 second-round selection (40th overall) and a first-round pick in 1995 (11th overall). The Vikings used the 1994 second-round pick on Alabama wide receiver David Palmer and the 1995 first-round pick on Florida State defensive end Derrick Alexander. The Falcons selected wide receiver Bert Emanuel, who had played at both UCLA and Rice, with the second-round pick they got in the trade.

How it worked out for the Vikings: Not well, espeically when it came to the first-round pick. Alexander was drafted to be Doleman’s replacement but did not come close to living up to expectations. He spent only four seasons with the Vikings and finished with 17.5 sacks, including a career-high 7.5 in 1998 after being moved from right to left end. Making matters worse, the Vikings passed on future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who went one pick after Alexander to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sapp fell because of off-the-field concerns that came out right before the draft. Palmer was a player ahead of his time and had the ability to play wide receiver and running back and also returned kicks and punts. He spent seven seasons with the Vikings and caught a career-high 26 passes in 1997.

How it worked out for Doleman: Doleman had 16 sacks in 30 games over two seasons with the Falcons before signing as a free agent with San Francisco. Doleman found success with the 49ers, registering 11, 12 and 15 sacks and forcing 11 total fumbles over three seasons in the Bay Area. He was selected to the Pro Bowl twice in that time. Doleman returned to the Vikings for a final season in 1999 and had eight sacks in 14 games at the age of 38.

The verdict: Considering Doleman’s success with the 49ers, and Alexander’s lack of success with the Vikings, this wasn’t one of Green’s better moves. Of course, taking Sapp would have made this a different story. Doleman was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 and is fifth all-time in the NFL with 150.5 sacks. (Sack totals became official in 1982.) Doleman had 96.5 sacks in 10 years with the Vikings. Sadly, he  passed away in late January of this year after battling brain cancer. He was 58.

Next up: Ed White to the Chargers

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