NFC North: Billy McMullen

Westbrook vs. Tomlinson for Minnesota

February, 23, 2010
2/23/10
5:12
PM ET
I suppose we can't suggest LaDainian Tomlinson as a possible replacement for Chester Taylor without also adding Brian Westbrook to the list.

Tomlinson
Tomlinson
Westbrook
Westbrook
Above all else, I believe Minnesota wants to re-sign Taylor before the free-agent market opens. But if Taylor decides to test his value elsewhere -- a respectable decision given the relatively few miles on his 31-year-old legs -- the Vikings will need a backup/third-down back behind Adrian Peterson.

Tomlinson, who has averaged almost 60 receptions per season in his career, would be one option. Westbrook, whom the Eagles informed would be released Tuesday, would be another.

Westbrook would have the advantage of familiarity with Vikings coach Brad Childress, his offensive coordinator in Philadelphia from 2002 to 2005. But he also comes with more medical baggage than Tomlinson, who has missed only three games in his career.

There is no doubt Childress has an affinity for early-decade Eagles players and staffers. He hired defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier in part because of his time in Philadelphia from 1999 to 2001. The Vikings' athletic training and strength/conditioning staffs were once based in Philadelphia, and the Vikings have signed several former Eagles players -- Billy McMullen, Artis Hicks, Koy Detmer, Todd Pinkston and Greg Lewis among them. In 2007, meanwhile, the Vikings pursued free agent quarterback A.J. Feeley.

I'm sure Childress would like to have a healthy Westbrook on his team. But does Westbrook have a clean bill of health? At this point, the answer is uncertain.

Too much depth: Vikings release Wade

September, 10, 2009
9/10/09
12:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

Wade

Ok. Ok. Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy!!!!!! You win. Egg, meet face.

That’s right. Minnesota didn’t do me any favors Thursday morning by releasing receiver Bobby Wade and reportedly replacing him with veteran Greg Lewis. (It’s probably a bad deal for Wade, too, but this isn’t his blog. It’s mine.) The move doesn’t suggest the Vikings had the same opinion of Wade’s ability to provide depth as I did in this week’s Have at It feature.

I think most everyone is surprised by the timing, if not the substance, of this move. Wade, after all, restructured his contract last week and took a 50 percent pay cut in the process. Typically when a veteran agrees to such an arrangement, the understanding is that he will make the team. Otherwise, the player is released and gets an opportunity to sign elsewhere during the mad rush of final-cut weekend.

I’m not totally sure why this happened, but here are some possible explanations:
  1. The Vikings are more concerned about the health of receiver Bernard Berrian’s hamstring than they are letting on. Berrian suffered the injury in the first quarter of the Aug. 14 preseason opener at Indianapolis and missed the rest of the preseason. He was limited in practice Wednesday but all indications have been that he’s ready to come back. But if the Vikings are worried about him, Wade -- a slot receiver -- probably wouldn’t have been an ideal replacement. Lewis is more of an outside/speed receiver.
  2. Childress has long had an affinity for players he once coached in Philadelphia. Lewis, whose career with the Eagles dates back to 2003, joins a long line of ex-Eagles players to have paraded through Minnesota over the past four years. The list includes offensive lineman Artis Hicks, fullback Thomas Tapeh, receivers Billy McMullen and Todd Pinkston, and quarterbacks Mike McMahon and Koy Detmer.
  3. The Vikings didn’t want to guarantee Wade’s new contract, which is believed to be worth $1.5 million. That would have happened if he were on the roster this weekend. As it is, the Vikings still had to pay Wade for one day of practice. At $1.5 million per year, Wade would receive a Week 1 “game check” for $88,235.29. That’s nothing for the Vikings, however. They once paid Detmer more than $90,000 to practice for three days in 2007.
  4. Childress grew weary of Wade’s refreshing but highly public profile. I doubt it’s the reason Wade is gone, but he did use a crude word to describe Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler this summer and also told reporters it was clear that Tarvaris Jackson would defeat Sage Rosenfels in a training camp competition at quarterback. Like most coaches, Childress isn’t big on players making news with their mouths.

We may never get a full explanation. But at least the Vikings improved their receiver depth today, right?

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