Free agency proper is set to begin here in 6 ½ hours, but as we all know teams have been negotiating already with players set to hit it. One of those players is Phil Loadholt, and, well... we've got a bit of a problem.
See, the common consensus a day ago was that Loadholt was entering into a FA class somewhat stacked at Tackles. Some speculated that the Vikings might let him put his toe in the pool, metaphorically see it was cold, and then negotiate with him from that standpoint. However, if that was the plan, then it's hit a bit of a snag.
The Chicago Bears have apparently expressed considerable interest in his services, and this creates a considerable problem on several fronts. See, the Bears have an O-line that, well, let's just put it like this: their fans should thank the Arizona Cardinals, because otherwise I'm pretty sure Chicago's unit would be the league's worst. Loadholt may not be the greatest RT to ever step foot on the field (by a fair margin), but he would be a considerable upgrade for them, especially considering the steps forward he took last year. Even worse, the Vikings really don't have anything in terms of an in-house replacement for him; DeMarcus Love has still yet to see any actual, factual NFL action, and I'm pretty sure he would be the next man up. Meaning that the Bears are going to be enticed to go after this relatively hard because not only does it help them, it also hurts a divisional rival.
Will Loadholt bolt? I doubt it. Then again, I said the same thing less than 24 hours ago about a certain other now-former Viking, so take that for what it's worth. I think (hope... pray) the Vikings will ensure they at least match Chicago's offer, and unlike the other now recently former Viking who-shall-not-be-named-here, I've never heard Loadholt complain about being a Viking. Chances are if we match Chicago's offer, he'll opt to stay with his original team and continue to block for Adrian Peterson.
The issue is that this likely will drive Loadholt's price tag up. Hopefully it won't end up being ridiculous, as the Vikings aren't going to dump an enormous amount of money into him. But even at reasonable rates I would imagine that he's going to cost more with this surprise twist factored in than the team originally anticipated.
Screw the Bears. Skol Vikings!