Free Agency Watch: Is Chris Chester a Name We Should Learn?


Uncapped free agency looms, and the Vikings have needs.  The Saints game, and specifically the battering the champs put on that old quarterback whose name I will no longer use until he says what he’s going to do for next season, exposed the biggest need of all:  an offensive line upgrade.

This has already been outlined, but I’ll thumbnail it one last time:  the Vikes are pretty much locked-in at left tackle (unfortunately), left guard and right tackle, leaving center and right guard as your two most upgradable positions.

Sadly, the big name guards like Logan Mankins and Jahri Evans are not realistic possibilities, nor is Bengals guard Bobbie Williams, though he’s slightly closer.  That would leave the Vikes sifting through some lesser-known names looking for that diamond in the rough.

Having sifted the names myself, I believe I have identified a guy who could make sense financially and in terms of draft pick compensation:  Chris Chester of the Baltimore Ravens.

On the surface, Chester would seem a less-than-ideal candidate to bump Anthony Herrera from the right guard spot.  Yes he started for Baltimore for a time, but he was bumped to back-up partway through last season, and overall, he is not seen as the most physical blocker in the world.

However, when searching around, a few intriguing bits came up about Chester.  One, from Rotoworld, mentioned that his demotion in Baltimore stemmed partly from the team’s belief that he didn’t fit their power blocking scheme, but was more of a zone-blocking type.  The Vikings, as we know, employ a (slightly controversial) zone-blocking scheme, which might make Chester a good fit for them.

Another thing in the pro column for Chester is his versatility.  He can play both guard and center, meaning that, even if he fails to beat out Herrera, you have yourself a good multi-position back-up – he’s even played tight end some – and a possible replacement for John Sullivan if you decide he’s not the long-term answer at center.

The best thing about Chester is that you can have him for cheap.  The Ravens have slapped a low tender on him and would only receive a third-round pick in compensation.  And there doesn’t figure to be a huge bidding war for his services, so it’s not like you’d have to break the bank for him.

Not saying there’s any reason to be excited about this guy – just saying, he might be someone to look at as an affordable, realistic option at one or the other of the Vikings’ two most troublesome positions.