Inactivity and losses not surprising
To this point the Vikings have lost two players and been completely silent in the early stages of free agency. But losing a pair of quality backups in running back Chester Taylor and offensive lineman Artis Hicks should not be a huge surprise.
Having Taylor and Hicks in backup roles had been a luxury few teams can ever afford. So when both became unrestricted free agents this offseason, it was highly unlikely the Vikings would be able to retain them.
Could the Vikings have matched Taylor's four-year, $12.5 million deal with the Bears that reportedly included $7 million guaranteed? Yes, but to compete with Matt Forte for starting time makes more sense than to see situational duty behind the REAL Adrian Peterson in Minnesota.
The negative: It will be hard for the Vikings to replace Taylor. He can bleed yardage as a runner and always seems to gain more than it looks like he should. A veteran in the passing game, he's a nifty route runner with usually reliable hands and the ability to pick up the blitz in a way Peterson cannot with the same degree of reliability.
The positive: As effective as Taylor has been, he'll be 31 years old this coming season, and running backs tend to hit the wall suddenly. Despite the lack of wear and tear he's endured the past three years in Minnesota, some scouts feel he's already shown signs of slipping. There are likely other short-term fixes and perhaps even better long-term solutions.
Similarly, the Redskins gave Hicks a three-year deal worth $9 million to probably start. In Minnesota, that's simply too rich for a versatile backup.
The negative: Hicks can essentially play anywhere along the offensive line, except center, and not hurt you. That kind of versatility and reliability are rare. He's also a great team guy and positive influence in the locker room. Hicks has been a real luxury for the Vikings.
The positive: While his versatility is a plus, he isn't really quite what you're looking for as a full-time starter at any position. So the question then becomes if you want to gobble up cap space for a player who will rarely play unless someone else struggles or gets hurt.
As things continue to unfold, the Vikings now need to replace the roles of Taylor and Hicks on their depth chart. They are also looking for help at cornerback before the draft phase of the offseason. But it is a weak market with a lot of players carrying restricted free-agent tags, instead of being unrestricted, due to the unresolved labor situation.
That said, it remains early, with the better value propositions still out there. Stay tuned.
Kevin Brown has been providing personnel analysis and writing about the Vikings for more than 20 years with Viking Update. Follow VU on Twitter and discuss this and other topics on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.