Vikings vague on veteran running backs

The Vikings might have an interest in two veteran running backs, but VP Rick Spielman wasn't letting on beyond saying that they look at every option available.

There has been a lot of talk about the potential of the Vikings adding one of the great running backs of the previous decade to their roster with the releases earlier this week of San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook. At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Thursday, Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman was asked about both of the newly available running backs – two of the few veteran players teams like the Vikings can go after.

With rumors swirling that either L.T. or Westbrook could be brought in if Chester Taylor leaves via free agency, Spielman was as shifty as a cornerback in a three-cone drill in dodging the questions and keeping whatever interest or lack of interest they might have in either close to the vest.

When asked if there was an interest in either player, Spielman went to his bag of tricks to give an answer while at the same time giving a non-answer.

"We stick to the same philosophy we've always had," Spielman said. "Regardless of positions, if there's a guy out there that can help, then we do it. If we can fill from within, then we do that as well. I don't think we ever not look at anybody that comes available, but you have discussions about it and you move on."
In the wake of Westbrook's announced release – it isn't official yet, but the Eagles have given him permission to talk to other teams – he has flatly stated he wants to keep playing and his agent intimated that three or four teams have already contacted him about potentially signing Westbrook. Were the Vikings one of them? When asked if the team had talked to the agents for either Westbrook or Tomlinson, Spielman was again wordy, yet vague.

"I will say that we look at everybody and we evaluate and we move on," Spielman said. "But we're early in this process. We plan on talking to Chester's guy and see where he's at."

One of the selling points on Westbrook that has been bantered about is his familiarity with the offense Brad Childress runs. It is essentially the same offense the Eagles have run during the entirety of Westbrook's career, half of those years spent with Childress as the offensive coordinator. In a final stroke of irony, when asked if Childress has spoken to Westbrook, Spielman was again unwilling to divulge anything remotely resembling the Vikings true intentions.

"No. I'll just keep all of our internal discussions internal," Spielman said.

Is there interest from the Vikings in either player? All we do know for sure is that the deadline for putting the franchise tag on players came and went Thursday and Taylor wasn't given the designation – making him an unrestricted free agent if a deal can't be struck prior to 11 p.m. March 4 Winter Park time.


  • Only six teams exercised their franchise tag this year, half the total from 2009. Surprisingly, the tags were used on only three positions – three defensive tackles (Vince Wilfork, New England; Ryan Pickett, Green Bay; and Aubrayo Franklin, San Francisco), one defensive end (Richard Seymour, Oakland) and two kickers (Jeff Reed, Pittsburgh and Olindo Mare, Seattle).

  • The deadline for tendering offers to restricted free agents isn't until next Thursday.

  • A story in the Philadelphia Daily News Thursday looked at what teams would be the most interested in swinging a trade for either Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick. The story listed 11 teams that might be interested in McNabb. Topping the list? The Vikings … by a mile. They were viewed as a "match made in heaven," but that opening salvo was followed up with a cryptic statement: "The deal would get done in a minute if Brett Favre were to announce his retirement. But most people close to the situation, including Childress, expect Favre to return." Is Chilly getting chatty with the media wags in Philly? Don't bet on it.

  • Childress will speak to reporters at the Combine today, but expect to get about as much earth-shattering news from him than was dished out by Spielman Thursday.

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