Thoughts On Replacement Options For Chester Taylor

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 9, 2010 – 2:11 pm

The most common email question I received this past week was about RB Chester Taylor signing with the Bears and the Vikings next move in replacing him. I thought there was so much interest in this issue that we’d devote a separate blog entry to it rather than including it in this week’s Monday Morning Mailbag.

So, let’s take a look at a several options the Vikings have in terms of filling the hole created by Taylor’s departure.

– Since we’re in the middle of free agency, many of you seem to be brainstorming about which available players might best fit the Vikings offensive system as a replacement for Taylor. There are 3 types of available players for the Vikings to consider – free agents, unrestricted free agents (UFAs) and restricted free agents (RFAs).

The 2 free agents that have been linked to the Vikings most frequently are former Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson and former Eagles RB Brian Westbrook. Both of these players were released from their respective teams, making them free agents. Also, both players seem to have the skill sets that would make them nice complementary backs to Adrian Peterson.

But another free agent RB that might also fit nicely with the Vikings is former Raiders RB Justin Fargas. Most people will immediately write off this suggestion and I think that reaction is the product of Fargas playing in Oakland – not an ideal scenario over the past few seasons – more so than the result of a true evaluation of how he might play in Minnesota.

In the RFA market, I think Jets RB Leon Washington is an intriguing possibility. But there are 2 significant hurdles for any team interested in Washington. First, he’s coming off a serious leg injury from last season. Secondly, he was tendered at the 2nd round level by the Jets, meaning any team that wants to sign him must pay him a contract and also give up a 2nd rounder this year.

In terms of UFAs, one back out there who has produced at the NFL level in the past is Willie Parker. He has displayed abilities in both the run game and also as a receiver out of the backfield.

– Another option for the Vikings to consider is drafting another RB to fill Taylor’s role. Maybe it’s with their 1st round pick – #30 overall – or maybe it’s with another choice later in the draft. The Vikings currently have 7 selections in April’s draft and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Vikings use one of them on a RB.

– Don’t forget the Vikings have a pair of RBs on the roster right now – Ian Johnson and Albert Young – who will give their best effort to show coaches that they can step up with Taylor now departed. Also, the Vikings have recently added 3-year pro James Johnson to the roster. Young was the Vikings #3 RB last year but Johnson gave him good competition during training camp last year.

– Another route the Vikings could go is to explore a trade for a RB, although this seems like the least likely method the Vikings would use.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that the Vikings goal should not be to fill the spot quickly. Rather, the Vikings need to fill it well. Taylor was obviously an important part of the Vikings offense in 2009 and all during his 4-year tenure in Minnesota, so it’s fair to expect that whomever the Vikings choose to fulfill that role in 2010 will be relied upon in a similar fashion.

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