Vikings' free-agent options limited

Because the Vikings reached the NFC Championship, they won't be able to sign another unrestricted free agent until they lose one of their own. They may be preparing to lose running back Chester Taylor, a move that would allow the Vikings to sign another unrestricted free agent.

With free agency just three weeks away from beginning, with so many potential unrestricted free agents reverting to restricted free agents thanks to not having a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place beyond 2010, the Vikings have been trying to work the system as best they can, especially as it pertains to running back Chester Taylor.

Thanks to a bizarre clause in the CBA, the teams that made the conference championship games – the Vikings, Saints, Colts and Jets – will be prohibited from signing any unrestricted free agent once free agency begins until they lose one of their own. However, because the Vikings have locked most of their veteran stars into contracts, Taylor is one of the few unrestricted free agents that will hit the market. It would appear as though the Vikings are looking at options moving forward that don't include the veteran running back.

There has been some discussion that the Vikings will take a page from the San Diego Chargers and potentially slap the franchise tag on Taylor to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent, which, for all intents, would likely keep the Vikings out of free agency almost entirely. However, the recent signing of running back DeDe Dorsey – a former Colt and Bengal – by the Detroit Lions Tuesday may be shedding some light on the Vikings' plans.

A story in The Detroit News stated before Dorsey signed a two-year contract with the Lions, he received contract offers from the Vikings and Rams. Dorsey was a third-down back in Indianapolis behind Joseph Addai and was a special-teams standout, which might be the reason the Vikings were interested in him. But the timing of the contract offer may be a precursor to the Taylor tenure with the Vikings nearing its conclusion. We will likely find out more information in the coming weeks as to what the Vikings' long-term or short-term plan is regarding Taylor, but one thing that is certain is that Taylor is going to be paid next month – whether it is by the Vikings or someone else.

THURSDAY NOTES

  • In his personal blog, Tavaris Jackson said he's not concerned at this point whether Brett Favre returns next year, saying "I'm not sweating whether Brett comes back or not because I'm a free agent. Depending on the collective bargaining agreement, I'll be either restricted or unrestricted, just waiting to see. Right now I still feel like a Viking, but I'm just going to have to wait a while to find out what's going to happen." Sounds like a guy ready to move on if another offer presents itself.

  • The 15th annual Arctic Blast Snowmobile Rally will be held this Sunday at Lake Mille Lacs. Several current and former Vikings will take part in the event to raise money for the Vikings Children's Fund. Current players scheduled to attend include Ray Edwards, Jeff Dugan, Jasper Brinkley and Jamarca Sanford. Former players include Joey Browner, Jim Marshall, Scott Studwell and Doug Sutherland, along with Hall of Fame head coach Bud Grant. Registration is $35 and can be done at any of four points around the lake. For more information, visit the Vikings website at www.vikings.com or call (952) 828-6577.

  • Teams will start being able to use franchise tags to restrict players from hitting the free agent market starting today. Teams will have until Feb. 25 to make a franchise designation on a player. If they don't use the tag in the next two weeks, they will not be able to prevent free agents from testing the waters with other teams.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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