The 2009 season has been highlighted by Brett Favre's coming to Minnesota. However, another signing this season of great significance was the March 6th deal made with Heath Farwell. Farwell signed a three year deal for just under eight million dollars, with 3.25 million guaranteed. Considering he spent the 2008 season recovering from a torn ACL, some might question the amount spent on this special teamer. Afterall, he made only $435,000 in 2007, and 1.41 million in 2008, before the injury. But he is worth every penny.
Heath Farwell, from San Diego State, is the Vikings Special Teams leader. He was awarded the Special Teams Player of the Year in both 2006 and 2007 by his teammates. When he went down with an injury in the first preseason game last year many grew concerned about the special teams coverage for 2008. And they were right. The Minnesota Vikings set an NFL record by allowing 7 returns for touchdown. Farwell was missed.
Heath had 27 tackles in 2006 and 30 in 2007. After sitting out last year, he has six tackles already in two games. At that pace, Farwell will easily set a career record for tackles. In the first two games of the season the Vikings have covered 13 returns of kickoff by their opponents, with an average of 18.2 yards per return. That is good. On punts, three returns have netted seven yards. Unfortunately, Josh Cribbs was a fourth return that went 67 yards for a touchdown in Week One.
Covering kicks has been something of a nightmare for Minnesota for as long as I can remember. Maybe as far back as when Joey Browner was on special teams. With Heath Farwell signed for at least a few years, some fans can look to coverage of kicks as a chance to hit someone, instead of imminent disaster. Farwell wants the chance to show he can also play linebacker, hence he shopped himself to a few teams prior to the March signing. The ACL concerns probably scared away the Browns and Patriots, the two most publicized teams that showed interest. Whatever the reason, we are thankful.
Heath Farwell doesn't get too many opportunities playing special teams only. But if you watch real close for number 59 on kick coverage, you will find he makes his opportunities very special.