A player the Vikings would like to keep is a player they traded up to get – even though it was clear he would only be a starter based on injury. It was akin to the Baltimore Orioles drafting a shortstop or the Packers drafting a quarterback during the Ripken/Favre eras, respectively.
Toby Gerhart will be a free agent and, seeing that he plays behind the NFL's top running back, the Vikings aren't going to pay market value to keep him. Given he had just 36 carries last season, teams that would be interested in Gerhart have to roll the dice on being a power back that could be part of a legitimate platoon situation.
If the Vikings can't keep Gerhart, these are the teams that could make Gerhart a star. There are 12 teams likely to be in competition if the Vikings want to re-sign Gerhart at a hometown discount. All they need is one team to put a wrench in that plan.
1. Cleveland – The Browns made one of the smartest moves of 2013 by off-loading sloth-like RB Trent Richardson for a first-round pick. Gerhart could step in as Tommy Vardell 2.0.
2. Oakland – Darren McFadden (a.k.a. Limp DMC) and Rashad Jennings have longstanding injury histories and the Raiders have a penchant to offer a big contract on anticipation of big things. Going back to Cali sweetens the pot.
3. Arizona – Rashard Mendenhall led the Cards in rushing last year. Enough said.
4. Atlanta – The Falcons signed Steven Jackson last year to be a running option for a pass-first offense. He broke down and the rest was history. He fits what they envisioned Jackson to be.
5. Tennessee – Chris Johnson is due $8 million and, if the Titans make a business decision, Gerhart could step into training camp as the No. 1 back on the depth chart.
6. New England – He fits the bill of what Bill likes.
7. Miami – Daniel Thomas is a lost cause. The Dolphins can't trust Lamar Miller. Opportunity is what makes a star and Miami has an opportunity waiting to happen.
8. NY Giants – With David Wilson a big question mark for 2014 and known fumbler Andre Brown a free agent, the old-school G-Men could give Gerhart a legitimate chance to be a workhorse.
9. Baltimore – Ray Rice's future is in doubt for his production on the field and behavior off of it, and Ozzie Newsome is a solid talent evaluator. For the game the Ravens play, Gerhart could be a gift.
10. Cincinnati – BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been the featured power back the last two years, but Gerhart fills the Rudi Johnson role better than any free agent on the market. But he may not be willing to play second fiddle to Gio Bernard, who is the future in Cincy.
11. Jacksonville – Maurice Jones-Drew is a free agent, but any player willing to sign with the 2014 Jags is just in it for the money.
12. New York Jets – Chris Ivory isn't an every-down back. Gerhart might fit in, but would be better with the Giants than the Jets.
With an average of less than three touches a game, Gerhart shouldn't have a big market in front of him. But don't be shocked if Gerhart gets an offer that blows the Vikings out of the water. Too many teams can use him and all you need are two teams to create a bidding war.
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.
Gerhart should have free-agent suitors
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