Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Patience is essential

Posted by: under Vikings, Bears, NFC, Ben Leber, Bernard Berrian, Bobby Wade, Chester Taylor, Jared Allen, Madieu Williams, Ryan Longwell, Steve Hutchinson, Visanthe Shiancoe Updated: March 6, 2010 - 3:40 PM

There have been a few comments on the most recent blog posts about the lack of buzz surrounding the Vikings' efforts in free agency.

The reality is the Vikings' fan base has become used to the team making a splash on the open market. Chester Taylor, Ben Leber, Ryan Longwell and Steve Hutchinson were signed in 2006. Visanthe Shiancoe, Bobby Wade and Vinny Ciurciu were added in 2007. Bernard Berrian, Madieu Williams, Thomas Tapeh and, later, Jared Allen (obtained in a trade-and-sign) enabled the Vikings to make a huge splash in 2008. Last offseason, the Vikings pursuit of T.J. Houshmandzadeh made for an entertaining first weekend of free agency, despite the fact the wide receiver went to Seattle.

And this year ... nothing. Crickets.

There are two issues at work here. First, is the price of success. Second, is the fact that (and many NFL personnel folks agree) this free-agent market just isn't all that attractive. The latter might be the biggest reason all seems quiet at Winter Park as I sit across the street in the media room.

Remember, the Vikings' strategy since Rick Spielman took over as the team's vice president of player personnel has been to focus in on guys who are hitting the market for the first time in their careers. The problem is those guys aren't unrestricted free agents this year because of the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement. Instead, they are restricted. The Vikings can bid on those players but they would have to give up something in most cases to get them.

Back to point No. 1.

As one of the four teams that reached the NFC title game, the Vikings could not sign a UFA until they lost one. Well, they are now free to pursue one unrestricted free agent since they lost running back Chester Taylor to the Chicago Bears. Taylor received a four-year, $12.5 million contract Friday that includes $7 million in guarantees in the first year.

But there are still rules in place about what the Vikings can do. According to information sent out by the NFL, the first-year salary of the UFA the Vikings sign to replace Taylor cannot exceed Taylor's first-year salary and there also are limitations on the per year increases.

Not having viewed Taylor's contract it's difficult to say exactly what the Vikings can offer. One could assume at least $7 million but the question then becomes is their a player worthy of that salary on the open market right now?

 

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