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QB Johnson heading back to Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (March 16, 2005) -- The Minnesota Vikings agreed to terms with Brad Johnson, bringing the quarterback back to the place where he began his career 13 years ago.

He will replace Gus Frerotte, who signed with Miami earlier in the week. Johnson will serve as the backup to Daunte Culpepper.

Johnson's agent, Philip Williams, said about six teams expressed serious interest in Johnson, but in the end his history with the Vikings played a big role in his decision.

"Without a doubt the warm feelings and everything he has for the city and Minnesota was a big part of the equation," Williams said. "He told me, 'Everything is smooth.' It just felt right to him."

With Frerotte gone, the Vikings needed a proven player at No. 2, with third-stringer Shaun Hill lacking experience.

After being cut by Tampa Bay earlier this month in a cost-saving move, the 36-year-old Johnson immediately moved to the top of the Vikings' wish list given his skills and familiarity with the team.

Drafted by the Vikings in the ninth round in 1992 out of Florida State, Johnson worked his way up through the practice squad and became Warren Moon's backup in 1994. He took over the starting job in 1997, only to lose it to Randall Cunningham the next season after an injury in September.

Johnson was traded to Washington the following spring for the Redskins' first-round draft pick, a selection Minnesota used to take Culpepper.

After spending two years as the starter in Washington, Johnson joined Tampa Bay and helped lead the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title following the 2002 season. But he lost 10 of his last 13 starts with the Buccaneers, including his last six. He was benched by Tampa Bay after four games last season and fell to third on its depth chart.

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