Hock's Take: Top Five Stories Thus Far in the Vikings' Off-Season

Matthew HockingCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17:  Pat Williams #94 of the Minnesota Vikings laughs while playing against the Dallas Cowboys during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.The Vikings defeated the Cowboys 34-3.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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1. LaDainian Tomlinson Doesn’t Sign

Tomlinson left Minnesota without a deal, and is off to visit the Jets. I still think that he’ll sign with the Vikings after testing the market.

I don’t have to explain why this would a big deal for both parties, but it’s a great fit for the Vikings. A Hall of Fame-caliber running back capable of mentoring Adrian Peterson through a difficult stretch in his career, plus a fantastic screen and draw option on third downs.

The Vikings' big free agent signings have been hit or miss the past few seasons, and honestly they’re pretty happy they missed on a few last year (I don’t think T.J. Houshmandzadeh would have helped as much as Percy Harvin), but call me cautiously optimistic about the possibility of singing LT.

The question now, of course, is how his ego would take to being the second banana. Tomlinson has said all the right things, but the cure for that is winning, and with Tomlinson as an option the Vikings would have all the tools to put together another Super Bowl run.

2. The Williamses' Trial Marches On

Both Pat and Kevin Williams have given their testimony over the StarCaps case, and things look to be proceeding much more quickly in the next few months.

Now, I’m not a lawyer, but the feel I’ve gotten over the past few days is that the Williamses have a strong case, and they may end up getting their suspensions repealed after all.

This would, of course, be a significant boon to the Vikings who look to face a much tougher schedule next year and will need both of their tackles to keep themselves from dropping too far behind after the first four games.

3. The Bears Stock Up

They Chicago Bears have, by far, made the splashiest acquisitions this off-season. They’ve added both Julius Peppers and the Viking’s own Chester Taylor in an attempt to leapfrog Green Bay and challenge the Vikings for the NFC Central.

Peppers is an interesting acquisition: He’s the best defensive lineman for six games a year, and then he enjoys a good snooze for the remainder of the season.

The Bears are hoping that Peppers plays like he did against the Vikings last season, when he put Bryant McKinney on the bench and Brett Favre on the ground. But history shows that Peppers doesn’t really keep that up. We’ll see if the change in location changes him.
Chester Taylor, on the other hand, is a more confusing situation. He’s a great player and the Vikings are going to miss him, but of all the teams he could go to the Bears make the least sense for him.

In terms of the Bears, Taylor is very similar in terms of skill set to Matt Forte. Yeah, he’s probably a better blocker, but you can’t say that one guy or the other is really a change of pace over the other.

And Taylor is going to cost them a lot of money to do essentially the same things that Forte is already doing for them, which doesn’t really help the bottom line, which doesn’t help when they have so many other holes to fill.

On Taylor’s end, it’s a weird choice. Yes, he gets a chance to get revenge on the Vikings for…whatever it is he thinks he needs to get revenge for, but it’s not really helping him any.

The Bears are still probably a few years away from really competing for a playoff spot, and Taylor’s backing up Matt Forte now instead of Adrian Peterson. It’s unlikely that he’s going to hit a lot of incentives that would make this contract worthwhile.

Either way, I don’t think the Vikings are too particularly terrified of the Bears’ big free agents.

4. Kampman Moves On

A few years ago, this would’ve been a huge blow to the Packers and a huge boon for the Vikings. Then again, a few years ago it would have been the Vikings that Kampman signed with.

For all his talent as a pass rusher, and as many days as he made NFC North opponents miserable, Kampman was never going to adjust to playing as a linebacker in the 3-4 scheme

Because of that, I doubt the Packers will miss him much. They’ll miss his presence in the locker room and such, of course, but there won’t be much impact on the field.

It’s still the end of another era for the Vikings-Packers rivalry, though. And may be further incentive for a certain quarterback to come back to Minnesota next season. No, not Tarvaris Jackson.

5. The Brett Favre Saga Continues (Remix)

If you haven’t heard, Brett Favre appeared on the Tonight Show last week, and was very non-committal about his future, just as we’ve come to expect from him.

But, to me, his body language says he’s coming back. I don’t think he’s going to particularly miss any of the free agents the Vikings have lost this season, and he’d be jazzed about the opportunity of playing with someone like Tomlinson.

The answer won’t be delivered until the Vikings break camp in August, but Favre looked and sounded like he was planning for next fall in his head.