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Taylor’s Future In Limbo

chester-taylor

I would argue that Chester Taylor could start for over half of the teams in the NFL. If the Vikings hadn’t had Adrian Peterson fall to them in the draft, he’d probably still be our starter. However, after this season, Taylor is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.

Toted as one of the most versatile and dependable backs in the league, the Vikings would probably love to see him stick around for another three to five seasons. According to the Pioneer Press, Taylor would also like to stick around.
The article linked above has various players and coaches stating Taylor’s importance to this team. Here are a few of the quotes:

“You compare him to a (Brian) Westbrook,” Vikings linebacker Ben Leber said, referring to the Philadelphia Eagles’ two-time Pro Bowl running back. “You do have to account for (Taylor) in all situations. I think he’s a special player, and I’m glad he’s on our team. I think he was one of the most important guys we had on the team last year.”

“He can pretty much do everything,” Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said. “He’s very important because he knows the offense like the back of his hand. When you take out Adrian, there’s no let off. We feel Chester is just as good. People can forget about him all they want. But we pretty much know what we got.”

“Dependability and accountability,” Rosenfels said. “When you’re a quarterback, the most important down really is third down, and he seems to be the guy who happens to be in there a lot. That’s when you get the funky blitzes. He’s always right on the ball, and as a quarterback, you have to have that guy.”

There are plenty more good quotes to be had in the article as well.

No doubt that Taylor is valuable, has a low amount of miles on his 30 year old body, and should be re-signed. So what’s the hold up?
Let’s actually explore that topic by referring to some recent comments by Patriots owner Robert Kraft that were jotted in a PFT article :

Since August of 2007, when the Patriots re-upped with Ty Warren, the Patriots haven’t extended any of their veterans past 2010. (After the ’10 season, the current CBA will expire.)

Patriots Robert Kraft explained the thought process behind it recently.

“We don’t know what the rules are going to be (under the next CBA),” said Kraft. “We know our agreement is going to have to change. It’s not sustainable the way it is now for the entire league.”

Asked if teams may be assessed luxury taxes, Kraft said, “We don’t know what it’s going to be.”

“We don’t know what the rules will be and we don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we could be penalized for making poor decisions now when we don’t know what the rules are. No one knows, we don’t know. What could happen is we don’t have any agreement.”

While the Vikings have not shown the same stingy unwillingness to extend its veterans (see: Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin, Pat Williams) in recent years, they may start to feel more hesitation as the battle over the Collective Bargaining Agreement looms closer and closer.

We recently provided a link to a story by Vikings Geek that depicted why the Vikings should extend Taylor’s contract, especially given that they have cap space in the wake of Favre’s non-decision to not not stay retired… or something. Here is a snippet of what Vikes Geek has to say on the matter:

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.

In the end, I am supportive of the Vikings extending the contract of productive players. I would like to see them retain Chester Taylor, Artis Hicks, and maybe even Tarvaris Jackson (depending on his season). However, I can see why they may want to play a “wait and see” game in dealing with these guys, as Robert Kraft’s worries are indeed legitimate.

I hope they retain Taylor, but right now the NFL is loaded with talented enough backs to fill a backup position. Taylor is a great luxury that the Vikings may or may not be able to afford come next offseason.


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