Intrepid Minneapolis Star-Tribune reporter Judd Zulgad has a story out that the Minnesota Vikings, in an effort to solve their depth issue at running back,
will move have moved WR Darius Reynaud to RB for the 2010 season. This is an interesting move, in a couple of respects. I’m not sure if it’s a good move, but I can’t classify it as a bad one, either. I mean, it’s not like it’s a WR Robert Tate to cornerback move. Man, was that a disaster. But it’s a curious one, and it’s one that sends a couple of different signals, which I’ll touch on after the jump.
First off, this is the silly season of the NFL. In the weeks leading up to the draft, teams say all kinds of things and let all sorts of information ‘slip’ as to what their intentions are in terms of roster moves—and a good portion of it is complete bunk to mislead the other 31 teams as to what their true draft intentions are. This could very well be one of those times. They might want it known that they’re moving Reynaud to RB because internally they feel there will be a good RB available with the #30 pick, but they think Team X also has an interest in the same guy, and will draft him before the Vikings can. If they get Team X to think the Vikes don’t need a RB because of Reynaud, Team X might feel that that guy will be available in a later round because the Vikes are now out of the running for a RB and pass up on him in the first round, allowing the Vikings to jump on him later.
Another possibility is that they’ve reached out to a veteran RB, and hypothetically speaking, let’s say this veteran RB’s name rhymes with Fryin’ Bestlook. Maybe this RB’s agent has floated a salary number that is just too high for the Vikings to meet, for whatever reason. By putting it out there that the Vikings are perfectly content with Albert Young and Darius Reynaud as the primary backups for The Greatest Running Back in the NFL, they try and make the RB and his representatives think there is no demand for his services in an attempt to get them to come down on their price for said running back.
But there’s also a third possibility—the Vikings are dead serious about this and think it will work. It’s hard to judge Reynaud on offensive statistics; he has no receptions or carries in his first two years as a Viking. The only time he touches the ball is on punt returns, and it became apparent early on last year (San Francisco game, maybe?) that he has that ‘ooh’ potential when he gets the ball in his hands. He made some electrifying punt returns, and I wondered if he was going to get more of a role on offense. However, with the early emergence of Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, and established receivers like Bernard Berrian and Visanthe Shiancoe (wow, established receiver Visanthe Shiancoe…never thought I’d type those words after his first season in purple) it was tough for Reynaud to get much of a chance. But Brad Childress has always said that he wants his playmakers on the field, and I give him credit for thinking outside the box in how to do just that. Reynaud was a very good running back in high school, and was a very productive offensive player at West Virginia, so it’s not like he’s trying to learn a completely new skill set on the other side of the ball, like the Robert Tate comparison. I think the big thing for him will be picking up the protection schemes when he’s asked to block, and if he can do that, this just might work.
If this were still the Red McCombs ownership era, this would smack of penny pinching and I would be dubious at best about this move. But Mr. Wilf has always agreed to pay for whatever player the Vikings front office and coaching staff has identified as guy they ‘had to have’. So I don’t think this is a cost-cutting, cheapskate move. They went after Tomlinson, and if there was someone else out there they wanted bad enough, they'd make a substantial offer. So this is either pre-draft subterfuge, a negotiating tactic, or the Vikings are serious. I think it's 50-50 between a smokescreen and serious.
If in fact the Vikings are serious, I’m going to keep an open mind. Reynaud has a track record of production in high school and college, and has the ability to make some noise with the football in open space.
Let’s hope he ruptures our eardrums a lot in 2010. Happy Easter, everyone!