Major buzzkill...not the NFC Championship game (although it certainly was), but free agency. Thanks to restrictions placed on the Vikings (and the other three "final four" teams) the rest of the league is getting better while the Vikings are getting worse. That's not the position you want to be in.
To make matters worse, the Bears are the biggest benefactors of this uncapped year landing three big free agents. To make matters worser...er...even more worse, one of those big free agents was Minnesota's own Chester Taylor. Now all his talent and whatever insider tips on the Vikings he can give belong to the Chicago Bears.
I decided to check out Kevin Seifert's blog just to see if the Vikings had done anything. Instead, I saw that the Minnesota legislature were the ones doing nothing. In this case, though, it's regarding the stadium issue. Way to make me feel better, Seifert.
But I guess the big question is, under their current restrictions, what should the Vikings do? Here are three things I think the Vikings should have done (but didn't):
Franchise Chester Taylor: I realize I'm spending someone else's money and that spending a lot of money for a backup isn't prudent. But Chester Taylor was very valuable to the Vikings last year and with the free agent restrictions on the Vikings they don't have much ability to spend the money elsewhere. Beyond that, the championship window for the Vikings is closing fast. So why not throw caution (and money) to the wind and keep Chester Taylor for one more year and let him go after that. (At that point you're probably rebuilding.)
Also, I can't get the NFC Championship game out of my head. The running back most responsible for losing that game? Adrian Peterson. The running back most responsible for nearly winning that game? Chester Taylor. What else can I say?
Trade for Antonio Cromartie: Sure he's got some personality issues, but for a 2011 second round pick? I think he's worth the risk especially since cornerback is a position of need for the Vikings.
Trade for Anquan Boldin: Alright, I know wide receiver isn't a position of need for the Vikings. But it only cost a third and fourth round pick and I can't see how having a proven veteran to help out the Vikings' relatively young receiving core is a bad thing. And it would further entice Favre to come back for another year.
Here are some things I think the Vikings ought to do:
Sign Aaron Kampman: Since Chester Taylor is gone, this gives the Vikings the ability to sign a free agent to the contract that Chester Taylor signed with the Bears for...I think. These free agent rules are harder to figure out than a Lady Gaga song. Anyway, it would sure be nice to sign Aaron Kampman. He'd be a good pass rusher with the added bonus of being stolen from the Packers.
Trade for Nnamdi Asomugha: He's the second best cornerback in the game and he's available if the price is right. I wouldn't mind seeing the Vikings make a Jared Allen-type deal for him.
Trade for Randy Moss: I'm fairly lukewarm on this idea because Moss is getting old and he's a bit of a head case. But you might be able to get him for relatively cheap. He generally performs well the first year he's with a team and he may feel he has "unfinished business" here. So, given the premise that the Vikings should go all out this year and then rebuild after that, why not give the super-freak a shot?
Those are just some ideas. Obviously, the Vikings now need a backup running back too. LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook do nothing for me but I wouldn't hate getting them either. We're just looking to fill a backup position, so it's not essential that those two return to form...provided Adrian Peterson can hold on to the ball. But if you told me when the Vikings signed Chester Taylor that when his contract was up the Vikings could replace him with Ladainian Tomlinson or Brian Westbrook and it would be considered a downgrade then I would have laughed and ridiculed you to no end.
Right now I just can't shake the feeling that the Vikings are being punished for being successful. It really stinks. At the same time, it also feels typical for the Vikings. Let's hope they can get creative and make some sort of splash this off season.
Update as of 03/07/2010 2:30 PM:
Well, the problem with talking about free agency during free agency is that things can change fast. Aaron Kampman has signed with the Jaguars. I would add signing Kampman to the list of things the Vikings should have done but that would be disingenuous since it sounds like Kampman signed for more than the Vikings were even allowed to offer.
Now, obviously it's not realistic for the Vikings to do all the things I suggested above (or even possible). But I'm still hoping that the Vikings can do something in free agency or via trading to improve their team. Especially since I think this year will be their last shot at a championship before needing to do some rebuilding.