Dateline, March 2009: After visiting with Vikings brass at a swanky downtown steakhouse, a coveted Vikings free agent (T.J. Houshmandzadeh) decides to sign with the next team he visits on his free agency tour (the Seahawks).
Fast forward one year...
Dateline, March 2010: After visiting with Vikings brass at a swanky downtown steakhouse, a coveted Vikings free agent (LaDainian Tomlinson) decides to sign with the next team he visits on his free agency tour (the Jets).
Am I sensing a pattern here?
It seems the wine-and-dine treatment from Brad Childress & Co. doesn't work too well. Do free agents dislike the food at Manny's? Does Chilly only talk at the table with the menu covering his mouth like he does with the play chart during games? Does Pat Williams steal food off everyone's plates without asking? Does the fact that Childress looks like Mr. Noodle and Zygi Wilf looks like Wario work against them? I MUST KNOW!
Last year with Housh, the decision seemed to come down to one thing: money. Seattle offered more of it, so T.J. signed with the Seahawks. Fair enough, although Housh later admitted that he regretted settling for money and mediocrity over the chance at contending with Minnesota.
This year, the reasoning isn't as cut and dry. LDT's contract is for two years at $5.1 million, with incentives possibly pushing up the salary another $500k. Not exactly breaking the bank, especially when the reason the Vikings sat down with Tomlinson in the first place (Chester Taylor) garnered 4 years and $12.5 million from Chicago.
Perhaps LDT wanted a better chance at more playing time. AP is the man in Minnesota--hands-down, fumblitis be damned. Since New York just jettisoned Thomas Jones (pun intended), their running back situation is decidedly more up in the air (pun also intended). Tomlinson may have to share time with both Shonn Greene and Leon Washington in New York, but that share may be larger than the split he would have received with the Vikings.
(Note: I'm aware of Childress' "1 and 1A" comment regarding AP and Tomlinson, but I just can't buy that. LDT would have been strictly a third down back with occasional appearances split out wide.)
Or maybe he wanted to run behind a better offensive line. While Minnesota's o-line is still among the upper echelon in the NFL and an improvement over what LDT had in San Diego, they had some extremely sub-par moments and games throughout the season. The Jets' line is among the best in the NFL, as their #1 rushing offense in 2009 will attest to.
Either way, the Minnesota front office needs to work on their recruiting skills. They obviously aren't Mack Brown or Nick Saban when it comes to wooing people to join the team. If the NFL was a bar, the Vikings seem to be the horribly awkward guys from "The Pickup Artist" before Mystery has taught them any flirting tricks. (But seriously VH1, you chose the guy from the picture above to show nerds how to get women? I'm sure his techniques are proven, but I'm pretty sure his stuff works despite all the guy-liner and goofy clothes, not because of it.)
You can now stop dreaming of the potential "2007 Fantasy Super-Backfield" with Peterson and Tomlinson. It's 2010 now anyway. The Vikings have to move on to their next option, whatever that may be. Only time will tell...along with your voting in the poll and comments below of course!
Do we go after Brian Questionable Westbrook? Do we stick with Albert Young as AP's backup and focus our efforts (and money) on improving other areas of the team? Do we draft a running back?