Vikings' Offensive Outlook

Been away from Vikingsland since Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl? Here's a recap of what went on the last five month and how things are shaping up on offense with a new coaching staff, a new scheme and a number of new players.

The Vikings' offensive outlook entering training camp:

The Vikings, who entered free agency with an NFL-high $31 million in salary-cap space, elected to make their biggest splash by giving record money to Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson. Hutchinson signed a seven-year, $49 million contract that included $16 million in guaranteed cash to play alongside left tackle Bryant McKinnie and center Matt Birk.

That trio will be expected to open up plenty of holes for running back Chester Taylor, who bolted from a backup role in Baltimore to sign a four-year, $14.1 million contract that calls for $5.6 million guaranteed. Taylor's addition bumps Mewelde Moore to a backup role.

Taylor's lead blocker will be another new addition, fullback Tony Richardson. The veteran left Kansas City after 11 seasons to fill a position the Vikings rarely used in the offensive scheme employed by former coach Mike Tice.

Brad Childress, hired to replace Tice in January, also brought in three players from his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles. Artis Hicks was acquired in a draft-weekend trade and will enter training camp as the starting right guard. Receiver Billy McMullen also was obtained in a trade and will compete for a spot on the roster. Veteran Mike McMahon, meanwhile, left Philadelphia to sign with the Vikings as a free agent and will serve as the backup to Brad Johnson. McMahon's tenure with the Vikings might be short.

Tarvaris Jackson was taken in the second round of the April draft and will spend this season learning. If the Alabama State product proves to be a quick study, he could move up the depth chart in quick fashion.

One player who won't have to worry about competition is kicker Ryan Longwell, another of the team's free-agent investments. The longtime Green Bay Packers kicker received a five-year, $10 million contract that contained a $3 million signing bonus. Longwell holds several Packers team records, including career scoring (1,054) and field goals made (226).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Football is played in pads. We've got some shorts All-Americans out here and we'll see if they can play with those hats on come a month or so." -- Defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, who is looking forward to training camp.


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