Friday, March 05, 2010

Taylor Out, Favre In

In the early moments of the NFL's 2010 free-agency period--the period during which most of the major off-season moves typically occur--there are few, if any, indications that running back Chester Taylor will return to the Minnesota Vikings in 2010. That's not a surprise, given that the Vikings already have a starting running back and Chester Taylor wants starting running back money.

What remains surprising, however, is how the Vikings approached the Taylor situation dating back to last season. Aware of the likelihood of an uncapped season and its arcane rules, the Vikings had every reason to approach Taylor last Summer and work out an extension on Taylor's contract. That did not happen.

Adding to the peculiarity of the situation is that the Vikings wanted Taylor back in the fold in 2010. And, if one believes local reports, the team was willing to spend nearly $6 million to ensure his return.

Either the local angle is entirely off base--highly possible given how the locals tend to hype local ownership's willingness to part with money--or the Vikings simply dropped the ball.

Current reports have Taylor signing for nearly $8 million per season. Though that seems high, even at a discount from that estimate, Taylor appears headed for a pay day higher than or near what he would have received as a franchise player. All of which begs the question of why, if the Vikings were serious about retaining Taylor and were indeed willing to spend nearly $6 million per season on him, they did not franchise Taylor when they had the opportunity to do so?

Vikings' fans will be left hoping that the Taylor decision does not result in a Matt Birk-like scenario at running back in 2010. With Darren Sproles and Ronnie Brown tendered at the highest level, Michael Westbrook and LaDanian Tomlinson recovering from serious health issues and ineffective, respectively, the Vikings are left either to move on a player like Jerome Harrison (tendered with a second-round tender) or to select Taylor's replacement in the draft. That might work out well for Minnesota, but it also creates uncertainty where Taylor was a known commodity.

While Taylor appears all but certain to be gone next year, quarterback Brett Favre appears all but certain to return.

After pitching a game-changing pick in the NFC Championship game, it appeared highly likely that Favre would return to avenge the mistake. When Peyton Manning made a similar miscue in the Super Bowl, confirming that mistakes happen independent of age, and the Saints won the Super Bowl, Favre's return to Minnesota seemed even more likely.

Last night's appearance with Jay Leno only solidified the impression that Favre will return. Though Favre repeated a line that he had offered immediately after the Vikings' loss to the Saints, stating that he was "fairly certain that he had made his decision," this time, rather than qualifying that statement with the additional statement that he was waiting to announce the decision until he was certain that he could do so "without regret," he qualified the statement by announcing that he wanted to "enjoy the off-season." Peppered with numerous references to the Vikings as "we," Favre's response to Leno's questions, culminating with the off-season comment, can only be construed to suggest that, at this point in time, Favre is certain that he will return to the Vikings in 2010.

While certainty is not Favre's calling card, there is little reason for Favre to retire at this point and every reason for him to return to what could be the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl in the 2010-2011 season.

Up Next: Options.


bmc13 said...

VG, Do the rumblings that the Vikes will sign Westbrook or Tomlinson have any merit or is it a smokescreen? I would think shoring up some other positions like the OL, defensive backfield and LBs would take precedence. Or will they surprise us and pull off a big trade?

vikes geek said...


It appears that the Vikings will sign Tomlinson, possibly as early as Wednesday. With Jones off the board, the Vikings are running out of unrestricted free-agent options and they don't want to enter the season without a running back who can block. Tomlinson and Westbrook can both do that, but Westbrook might never be able to play again. That leaves Tomlinson, who, though he should be cheaper than Jones, will get more from the Vikings than he otherwise would have by mere virtue of the fact that the Vikings need him.