Bad NFL Contracts: Daunte Culpepper

Editor’s note: This is a part of an on going series in which we take a monthly look at some of the worst contracts in NFL history.  What we found most interesting, while researching these horrible contracts is that these contracts are often handed out because of circumstance.  A lot of teams gave their star players being contracts after big seasons. However, a lot of these players would go on to get hurt or just fall off for various other reasons. 

Daunte Culpepper: 10 Years, $102 million / Minnesota Vikings

Daunte Culpepper is an interesting case in bad contract lore. Culpepper had been up and down during his first few years in the league. After not throwing a pass in his rookie year, he stepped in as the starting quarterback in 2000 and led the Vikings to an 11-5 record and a trip to the NFC Championship game. After that, Culpepper struggled some over the next couple of years with decision making and some injury issues. In the 2001 and 2002 seasons, he threw 32 touchdowns and 36 interceptions and missed five games with a knee injury.

The next two seasons picked up some as he threw 25 TDs to only 11 interceptions in 2003 earning him a trip to the Pro Bowl. The team finished 9-7 that season but missed the  playoffs. In the 2004 season, Culpepper had the best year of his career throwing for 39 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He threw for an incredible 4,717 yards and passed Dan Marino for the most combined throwing and rushing yards ever with 5,123 yards. Culpepper made his third Pro Bowl and earned himself a hefty contract to the tune of $102 million over 10 years which made sense — but only for that moment.

The following season Culpepper went the first two games of the season without a touchdown pass, threw eight picks and fumbled twice. He’d thrown four more interceptions and fumble three more times before being injured by week seven. He sustained damage to his ACL, PCL and MCL and was placed on injured reserve for the rest of the year. The Vikings were upset that he decided to rehabilitate in Florida and Culpepper was unhappy with the emergence of Brad Miller at the quarterback position.

Later during that offseason, Culpepper requested a trade from the team according to CBS Sports.

Culpepper’s shaky relationship with the Vikings deteriorated further on Wednesday when the quarterback said he wants to be released if the team fails to trade him.

“If a trade does not happen then I am asking the Vikings to terminate my contract as soon as possible,” Culpepper said in an e-mail to reporters.

Culpepper said he had asked the Vikings if he could speak to interested teams on his own behalf. He said Minnesota denied his request.

Culpepper was eventually traded to the Miami Dolphins for a 2nd round pick only a year after his huge deal, making his 10 years, $102 million one of the worst contracts in NFL history.