Recently, Vikings VP of player personnel Rick Spielman talked about the importance of re-signing unrestricted free agent Chester Taylor, calling the running back the “unsung hero” of the Vikings.
But, does Taylor want to be back? Does he want to play second fiddle to starter Adrian Peterson?
Most likely, Taylor is going to be in demand on the open market. He has shown that he can play a complementary role to a feature running back, and earlier in his career he showed that he could carry the load as the No. 1 option in the backfield. He is skilled in pass protection and he is more than capable of catching the ball out of the backfield.
The concern — as with most backs — is his age. Taylor is 30 years old and will turn 31 during the season. But, unlike players such as Edgerrin James and LaDainian Tomlinson, Taylor hasn’t been a back who has been run into the ground. Only once — in 2006 — did Taylor have over 200 touches in a season, when he rushed for 1,216 yards on 303 carries and caught 42 passes. He has accrued just over 1,000 carries total for his career.
He is a back with low miles on the tires and a back that should demand some big coin once free agency kicks off on March 5.
So, who needs him and who could make Taylor an offer he can’t refuse? Let’s look at five teams (outside of the Vikings) who I believe should put together a solid deal to bring Taylor to town…
1. San Diego Chargers
Talking about the Chargers is almost too obvious, but we know they are going to be in the market for a running back either through the draft or through free agency. LT is on his way out, and Darren Sproles — though exciting and a game breaker — isn’t the type of back who can carry the ball 20-plus times a game in Norv Turner’s offense, a scheme predicated on the off-tackle power running game: Power O, Lead Open, Lead Strong.
2. Seattle Seahawks
New head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates need a feature running back. I’m not part of the Julius Jones bandwagon, as I think he has worn out his opportunities in Seattle. The Seahawks need to turn over their roster, so why not start with a proven veteran running back? I would not be surprised if Carroll made this move and it would be a good landing spot for Taylor.
3. Houston Texans
I never got the feeling that head coach Gary Kubiak was pleased with any of his running backs in 2009. Add in the fact that Steve Slaton is coming off of surgery and that the 8-8 seasons are growing old in Houston, and you have a perfect landing spot for Taylor. As much as we like the combo of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, getting through the AFC South requires a running back that can produce — and be accountable to Kubiak. I like this move for Houston.
4. Washington Redskins
This is a little premature, as we don’t know what will happen to Clinton Portis, but the draw to play in a Mike Shanahan offensive scheme — along with the money Dan Snyder pays out — could be hard to turn down for Taylor. If Shanahan does get some control of that roster, he would be smart to look at Taylor and bring in that dual-threat back who has more in his legs than Portis, who looks to be on the downside of his career.
5. Cleveland Browns
Yes, the Browns have Jerome Harrison, and they also have to get a deal done with WR/KR Josh Cribbs. But with Mike Holmgren in town, nobody is safe on that roster. Could you see a rotation between Harrison and Taylor? Could be a tough sell for Taylor due to the lackluster QB situation in Cleveland, but it is a move the Browns should take a look at. That offense needs talent.
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