Examining: Taylor Or Tomlinson?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 23, 2010 – 8:06 am

With the San Diego Chargers having released RB LaDainian Tomlinson and with RB Chester Taylor set to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) on March 5, the debate about which RB Vikings fans would rather have is already raging.

In fact,’s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert raises an interesting scenario involving the 2 RBs and 2 NFC North teams.

First of all, though, I want to clear up some confusion I’ve encountered when discussing this with several people. As we explained in our Basics of the Uncapped Year piece from last week, the top 4 teams from the 2009 season (Colts, Jets, Saints and Vikings) have restrictions in the number of UFAs they may sign. The detail I wasn’t aware of until yesterday, however, is that these restrictions limit the number of UFAs who have expired contracts, not who became UFAs because a team released them.

To make this clearer, let’s take a look at 2 players who will hit the open market on March 5 as UFAs: DE Julius Peppers and Tomlinson. Peppers will be a UFA because his contract with the Carolina Panthers will expire in March, therefore the top 4 teams from last season will not be able to sign Peppers until they lose one of their own UFAs to another team. Tomlinson, on the other hand, has become a free agent because the Chargers released him, not because his contract expired, and therefore any NFL team is able to sign him.

[UPDATE: Originally in this posting I referred to Tomlinson as a UFA, which was incorrect. Since Tomlinson was released from the Chargers with years remaining on his contract, he actually becomes a free agent (FA) rather than having the tag as an “unrestricted” free agent, or UFA]

With the details out of the way and with the knowledge that the Vikings could in theory pursue Tomlinson, let’s examine the situation from the Vikings perspective. Both players are 30 years old and would fulfill the same role for the Vikings as the 2010 season approaches – a complement to starter Adrian Peterson. As we know by following the Vikings lately, however, being the backup RB in Minnesota does not relegate your role to just an insurance policy. Taylor has been a key piece to the Vikings offense since signing here in 2006 and also since Peterson was drafted in 2007.

“Chester Taylor brings so much to this football team,” Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman said last week. “He’s like the unsung hero of the offense. You hear about Sidney Rice and Shank (Visanthe Shiancoe) and Percy Harvin and Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson. But what Chester Taylor does for this football team – not only on the field but off the field – he may be, as we look and we evaluate all the free agents out there, one of the top free-agent backs coming out.”

Since Peterson was drafted by the Vikings in 2007, Taylor has 362 carries and he’s gained 4.6 yards per carry. So, the Vikings have taken 352 carries off of Peterson’s workload (that’s a whole season’s worth of carries) over the past 3 seasons and they’ve still gained 4.6 yards on each of those carries. In addition, Taylor has been a valuable contributor in the passing game and on specifically on 3rd downs for the Vikings.

Given Tomlinson’s skill set, he could fill the same role as Peterson’s backup in Minnesota. Tomlinson is a skilled receiver out of the backfield and although at one point LT was the NFL’s best RB, he’s now better-suited to play second fiddle to a starter because of the wear and tear on his body after 2,880 carries in 9 pro seasons.

Perhaps the option of bringing Taylor back is Minnesota’s preferred outcome. Taylor is completely familiar with the Vikings offense, he’s already excelling in the #2 RB role here and he doesn’t have the wear and tear on his body that Tomlinson has.

Or is Tomlinson’s upside enough to make signing him the Vikings preferred outcome? LT is a 2-time NFL rushing champion and 1-time NFL MVP. Teams considering signing LT must decide whether his decline in production over the past 2 seasons is the function of a declining skill set or the function of sharing carries with Darren Sproles.

We must also mention there is one important factor we don’t know at this point – the asking price. We don’t know how much Taylor and Tomlinson will be seeking in their next contracts.

I have no inside knowledge as to what the Vikings plan or prefer to do in this scenario, but my guess is the preferred outcome is to re-sign Taylor. As I stated above, Taylor is already comfortable here in Minnesota and knows the Vikings offense well. He also has less wear and tear on his body and he hasn’t dealt with injuries to the extent that LT has, especially over the past couple of seasons.

If I had to make the choice, I’d go with #29.

But I could be wrong, and I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be excited to have LT on the Vikings roster for the 2010 season.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and we’ll revisit this issue soon…

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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 34 Comments »

34 Responses to “Examining: Taylor Or Tomlinson?”

  1. By Vikechick on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    No keep Chester, why is this topic even being discussed?

  2. By greymous on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I’d also prefer to keep Taylor but if he decided he wants to move on LT would be a nice fit here. Maybe he can help AP learn how to hold on to the ball too…

  3. By TW VIKE on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    We need secondary help !

  4. By TastesLikeBurning on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    It depends. I like Taylor a lot but if the Vikings have another free agent in mind that can fill a hole elsewhere (say Peppers for the lack of free agent list at my finger tips) then they need to lose a free agent first. If that’s the case then LT is a phenomenal solution/replacement and the Vikes don’t really take a step backward at the RB2 spot.

    Of course $$ is a factor… but not so much this year with the lack of cap. How much would ownership be willing to fork out for this year? Minnesota is a serious contender as-is but having an LT (heck, even a Peppers) could push them over the top… and not to mention the effect LT (a whichever free agent) might have on influencing #4 to come back.


  5. By TW VIKE on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Keep Chester if we can. LT doesnt play DB or safety. Thats priority #1. #2 is a young QB who hopefully can learn from #4 for a couple of seasons.

  6. By bobby on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I think the vikes should resign chester he has been GREAT since we signed him in 06. LT would be nice but a bit of a winer when it comes to playing time. The people that want LT here over chester I think just want him here because of his name not his game (now). Chesters the man we need to sign the only thing is how much.If we dont want to spend the money to sign chester LTwould be the next best thing but are running game is not broke so dont fix it keep it alive with chester

  7. By Ann on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I would also prefer Taylor to LT. Taylor doesn’t have the wear and tear on his body that LT has. the vikings could not sign peppers even if
    they lose Taylor. I believe you have to sign a player of the same caliber, meaning Taylor is not a starter and peppers is. we would have to lose Ray edwards to be able to sign Peppers. in addition the restrictions on how much the vikings can pay, according to the FA rules, would also make it prohibitive to sign peppers. he’s looking for a big payday and the vikings are limited in what they can pay.

  8. By jbork88 on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    we wont get LT, he’ll probably end up going to the patriots or something. so keep taylor

  9. By Dennis on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    L.T. is hurt too often. Chester has done everything this team has asked of him and then some. He’s been a key to the Vikings being able to move the chains. Pay the man and keep him right where he is.

  10. By Dave F on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    some of you people dont understand free agency!, we cant go after any free agents because, we were one of the final four teams, we can only get players who are cut, so thats not going to be any quality secondary players, or Julius peppers, we could get LT tho and that would be exciting, and apparently Randy moss wants to come back, to play withg Favre, trade berrian and a 4th round pick and we got him.

  11. By jbork88 on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    no don’t trade berrian for moss, we don’t need moss

  12. By TW VIKE on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I would like to see Randy Moss & Brett Favre play together. Percy,Sydney, & Moss. Nice trio ! I know Moss would play hard for Favre. These 3 would be better than the trio of Carter,Moss & Reed. We still need secondary help.

  13. By Scott on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I have Chestor’s jersey and let’s make no mistake he is an excellent back. In your scenario with free agents. If we were to sign LT and allow Chestor to find another team, then that would allow us to go after Peppers. If that is not enough, then let Ray Edwards find another team also. I think that the combination of LT & Peppers on the Vikings this year would get us the Superbowl ring that we don’t have. Also Brett has demanded twice that his team sign Randy Moss and the Packers choked on that request both times. How about Brett ask for Randy back as a condition for him to complete his contract and play again this season. Brett, Adrian, LT, Randy, Sidney, Percy, Jared Allen & Julius Peppers… Superbowl baby!

  14. By Stephanie on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I think they should keep Chester Taylor b/c he’s extremely effective as a number 2 guy and not just when he’s used in the running game, he’s great in the passing game. also, how much money is L.T. going to ask for? would it be less than Taylor? probably not. I like Chester Taylor, but if for some reason he’s not resigned, L.T. would probably be the next best thing. also, is it really true that Randy Moss wants to play with Brett in Minnesota or is that just a rumor? when I read an article about him it sounded like he was going to finish out the year in New England and then go somewhere else after that b/c he’s got one year left on his contract. I like the receivers we have now, but I suppose having Moss couldn’t hurt…although I’ve heard of him “taking plays off.” not sure if that’s true.

  15. By Aaron j. on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Tomlinson would make GREAT backup to Taylor.

  16. By Aaron j. on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply


  17. By jbork88 on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    here is this loser aaron j again, btw, nice job saints fans for copying the Bengals. WHO DEY WHO DEY…

  18. By jbork88 on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    STephanie, Brett and Moss have they same agent so they have good ties with each other and he wanted him to play for the packers so it wouldn’t be surprising to see favre wanting moss to come back to the vikings but I don’t see why they need him

  19. By jbork88 on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply


  20. By bladerunner on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    If you got Moss, Farve will be back. Two we need to package some picks and or players and see if the raiders bite and will let the kid at corner go. We all know they have gaps not concerns to fill. The question is in a first round pick enough to make them bite (raiders) Maybe Rosen and a pick. As far a Peppers it wont work the up side is not that much better than Edwards so save the money a put it else where.As far as running back and body remember a fellow name Moore you can take one of are guys and turn him into a 3rd down back. Now the safety problem we have players that can move and if you can get the kid from the raiders,problem solved.As far as Revis being moved from the Jets i think Ryan would be signing his own death warrant,So that aint happening. So we need to draft safety or corner . with first round and 2nd then hit ol we need a guard or a tackle to run some weight off of are big boys..

  21. By bambam on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    keep chester work on d backs

  22. By medicineball on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Keep Chester Taylor.

    While we can all admire LT, he is a superstar who will change the locker room chemistry. Since that chemistry is currently very good, by all accounts, it is very important to not change it. LT is positive, but it’s too big of a change to risk. Just keep Chester Taylor.

    Chester is awesome.

  23. By TW VIKE on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    jbork88- We dont need him but I think he would play hard if #4 comes back. Moss will not come back with out Favre. I will take Moss over Owens any day. I will always be a #84 fan.

  24. By bladerunner on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    What about Westbrook if Taylor leaves ? Since him staying isnt really up to the vikes. The man has to take the most money possible since this will probably be his last big pay day.

  25. By Viking4ever on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Keep Chester 4 sure. He is never hurt and he provides the 3rd down threat out of the backfield. Work on the safeties and cornerbacks and getting Favre back.

  26. By jbork88 on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I guess so TW, i would like to see him back in a viking uniform, it’s just that I don’t think we need him.

  27. By bladerunner on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I know we dont need him but i think hes better then Berrein . and its on more inticement for Farve to come back . and with Moss that slows the rush down .if you throw it to Moss deep. Because out comes a linebacker and in comes a db allowing one less rusher.

  28. By bladerunner on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    allowing more double team to help the tackles.

  29. By Isaac on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    it would be great to see peppers, moss, LT and Sharper with the vikings next year i could see us just getting that extra push to win the superbowl and they all could play for a few years and possible win a couple superbowls.

  30. By Isaac on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    get rid of edwards and bring in peppers, bring in urlacher, bring in LT if taylor doesnt resign and trade someone for moss or sign owens

  31. By moorevikes on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    you know what would be awesome is if we took the best player at every position and got them to sign with the vikings next year we would be unstoppable (sarcasm)

  32. By jbork88 on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    that iis pretty much what I have been hearing as well moorevikes

  33. By Brent on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    I think that Chester is our best option. He is familiar with the scheme and is excellent at catching the ball out of the backfield. The one thing that entices me with LT, is the mentoring he could give to Adrian. He may be able to help him with his fumbling issues. Also when it comes to the secondary issues, i think it would be nice to see Winfield play some safety. He tackles so well, I think he would make receivers think twice about crossing the middle. He is at the age where it is a good time for him to make the change, plus would could see some more time from Asher Allen who made strides at the end of the season.

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