Free-agent running back Chester Taylor has agreed to a deal with the Chicago Bears, according to ESPN and the Chicago Tribune.
Taylor, who spent the past four seasons with the Vikings, will receive a four-year, $12.5 million deal with $7 million guaranteed in the first year, according to ESPN.
The Vikings had wanted to retain Taylor -- a valuable backup to Adrian Peterson the past three seasons -- but it became clear he was going to be able to get more money on the open market. There is little question that Taylor will now get a chance to take the starting job from Matt Forte.
Tayor's departure frees the Vikings to pursue an unrestricted free agent for a salary that is similar to what Taylor got from the Bears. Taylor signed with the Vikings as a free agent in 2006, leaving Baltimore for a four-year, $14.1 million deal that included $5.6 million in guarantees.
Taylor was the Vikings' top running back in that first season but was moved to a backup role after Peterson was taken with the seventh-overall pick in the 2007 draft. Actually, Taylor and Peterson split time early in Peterson's rookie season but it soon became clear that Peterson should be the No. 1 guy.
Taylor's agent, Ken Sarnoff, and the Vikings talked at the NFL Scouting Combine last week and continued conversations this week but there was little chance the Vikings were going to pay a backup running back $7 million guaranteed in the first year of a new deal. The Vikings efforts included having running backs coach Eric Bieniemy work on convincing Taylor to stay.
Now, Taylor will get the chance to face the Vikings twice a season playing in the NFC North.