Sunday, August 02, 2009

Vikings Have Money to Spend and At Least One Player On Whom They Should Spend

When the Minnesota Vikings were still actively involved in the Brett Favre-courting business, they were believed to have an offer on the table that guaranteed the quarterback $10-12 million. Whether that money came in the form of a divisible signing bonus or a lump-sum roster bonus in 2009, became irrelevant when the Vikings failed to lure Favre out of retirement.

While losing Favre's services was a blow to the front office's grand design this season, it did leave the Vikings in a position to spread some of the wealth that otherwise would have gone to Favre.

Straddling the fence between the salary cap floor and salary cap rules conformity--and needing to make a move to bolster a still less-than-content fan base upon which the team is relying in its push to secure a new, publicly financed stadium--the Vikings last week renegotiated the terms of popular cornerback Antoine Winfield's contract. The relevant aspect of Winfield's contract for salary-cap purposes is the $16 million that Winfield receives in guaranteed money.

If Winfield's bonus is all in the form of a roster bonus for 2009, the Vikings would be near the NFL salary cap for 2009 (with loads of cap room in 2010). As indications are that the bonus is otherwise, the Vikings still have money to spend in 2009 and at least one very deserving player on whom they ought to spend that money.

Last season, Adrian Peterson led the Vikings in rushing with 1,760 yards and 10 touchdowns. Well behind Peterson in second place among Vikings' rushing leaders was Chester Taylor, who chipped in 400 yards rushing and four touchdowns, along with one passing touchdown.

Taylor accomplished his feat on nearly 300 fewer carries than Peterson, however, and was the Vikings' primary blocking back--particularly in short-yardage situations. Prorated over the same number of carries as had Peterson, Taylor would have netted nearly 1,500 yards rushing.

A free-agent after the 2009 season, Taylor thus is a reasonable player for the Vikings to target with their remaining cap money this season. While the team has Percy Harvin in the fold, NFL teams can almost never have too much depth at running back. By spending today's "free" dollars on Taylor, the Vikings avoid seeing Taylor leave after next season and alleviate the subsequent need to find an intelligent back with pass-blocking skills who can also run with the ball.

Up Next: Twins Killing Vikings' Public Stadium-Funding Efforts.

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