Succession plan becomes reality in Minnesota

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Darren Sharper's days in Minnesota have been numbered for some time, dating back to when the Vikings traded up in the second round of last year's draft to select Arkansas State safety Tyrell Johnson.

You don't move up in a draft for a player you hope one day will merely contribute at some level. Sharper was entering the final year of his contract, and the Vikings chose Johnson to replace him. Johnson wound up starting seven games as a rookie in place of injured free safety Madieu Williams, proving to be a competent but not particularly flashy player.

Sharper has made a career out of producing flashy plays, but his performance dropped noticeably after the Vikings switched to a cover-2 defense in 2006. After intercepting nine passes in 2005, Sharper managed only nine more over the next three seasons -- including one last season -- and agreed to terms Wednesday with New Orleans.

The Vikings had displayed no real interest in re-signing him at any point in the free agency period. Instead, they put their pre-conceived plan in motion by elevating Johnson.