- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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Two down with one (big) name to go in Chicago.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Bears have agreed to terms with free agent running back Chester Taylor on a four-year contract worth $12.5 million. The deal includes $7 million in guarantees, which was more than enough to convince Taylor to jump from the Bears' NFC North rivals.
I'm sure the Vikings aren't thrilled to have lost Taylor to a division rival. But I just don't see how they could have guaranteed a player $7 million for 150 touches in 2010. That's what Taylor averaged the past two seasons while playing behind starter Adrian Peterson, and the only way that figure would have changed next season is if Peterson gets hurt.
This was simply a matter of Taylor being more valuable to the Bears than he was to the Vikings. The Vikings will have their pick of veteran replacements for Taylor, from Brian Westbrook to LaDainian Tomlinson, or they could elevate youngster Albert Young. They wanted Taylor back, but they can navigate his loss.
The Bears, on the other hand, had justifiable reasons for throwing elite cash in Taylor's direction. Starter Matt Forte slumped in his second season and is far from the long-term lock that Peterson is. Assuming Forte maintains his starting job, Taylor fills a role the Bears have been trying to address for two years: A change-of-pace back who can reliably spell the starter. And Taylor has all the skills necessary to succeed in Mike Martz's offense, from his soft hands to his discipline against the blitz to his open-field running ability after the catch.
The Bears have added a legitimate offensive weapon who will land in a compatible system while surrounded by teammates who will afford him the limited role he can succeed in. The Vikings bid farewell to a part-time player who would have been an awfully expensive insurance policy. I can't argue with either decision.