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Friday, March 27, 2009
Vikings get their million-dollar fullback

Posted by's Kevin Seifert

Minnesota's decision to retain fullback Naufahu Tahi, as reported here by Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune, seemed a foregone conclusion since the team lost out on free agent Leonard Weaver last week. So why did the Vikings take the full seven days to match?


I asked coach Brad Childress that question earlier this week during the NFL owners' meeting. His response:

"You have a week and in these economic times, rather than take on a burden for an extra week of principle and interest, there's really no merit in jumping out of the box until 11:59:59 if that, in fact, is what you're going to do."

What does that mean? Tahi carried a $1.01 million cap charge on the Vikings' books when free agency began, the value of his restricted tender offer. When he signed an offer sheet with Cincinnati, the Bengals absorbed a $1.4 million charge.

When and if the Vikings matched, the difference in the charges -- $390,000 -- would be transferred to their books. There are no cash considerations, but in essence the Vikings bought themselves a week of extra salary-cap space. That didn't make a difference in their day-to-day operations, but in general it's a good policy to follow when the numbers are meaningful.

(Note: I updated the paragraphs above to clarify the explanation.)

To me, the bigger question is why the Vikings think it's so important to have a high-priced fullback on their roster when he plays less than 50 percent of their offensive snaps. This will be the fourth time in the past four years they have a fullback on the roster averaging $1 million or more on his contract. Tony Richardson was their starter in 2006 and 2007, while Thomas Tapeh earned $1.855 million for two games last season before being waived.

I've always thought the Vikings should find a way to maximize the time that Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor spend on the field together. When they absolutely need a fullback, they have H-back Jeff Dugan on their roster for that purpose. But that's just me.