In a move that essentially ends any lingering interest in Plaxico Burress, and probably means that the Minnesota Vikings will not trade for Washington Redskins starter Rod Gardner, the Vikings on Tuesday afternoon reached a contract agreement with unrestricted free agent wide receiver Travis Taylor.
Contract details were not immediately available.
Taylor, 26, certainly has the potential to be a playmaker in a vertical-style offense like the one the Vikings employ. He is a long, angular receiver (6-feet-1, 210 pounds) with very good deep speed and the ability to separate from cornerbacks. Taylor's progress in the NFL has been stymied at times, though, by injuries and inconsistency, and he will have to convince Minnesota coaches he can stay healthy.
"Travis gives us a player with a tremendous amount of potential
and the ability to be a game-breaker," coach Mike Tice said. "He
will have the chance to showcase his skills with us."
The 10th overall choice in the 2000 draft, Taylor missed seven games as a rookie when he suffered a late-season broken clavicle. Last year, a severe groin injury sidelined him for the opening of the season and he missed six contests. Between 2001-2003, he played in every game, averaged 14.7 starts, and was a productive if not prolific receiver.
The former University of Florida standout caught 61 passes for 869 yards and six scores in 2002, when he started 15 games, and those numbers are indicative of the raw skills that he possesses. But it is also telling that the Ravens, whose wide receivers needs have been well documented, made no attempt to re-sign him this offseason.
For his career, Taylor has 204 receptions for 2,758 yards and 15 touchdowns. He played in 67 games for the Ravens, including 61 as a starter.
"It's a situation where Travis gets to play with one of the
elite quarterbacks in the league, which is something unfortunately
he hasn't had a chance to do the last five years," said Taylor's
agent, Mitch Frankel. "No disrespect to the quarterback in
Baltimore, but Daunte's [Culpepper] one of the best."
Minnesota officials have been attempting for two weeks, since trading star Randy Moss to the Oakland Raiders, to add a veteran receiver. They met with Burress, an unrestricted free agent, over the weekend. The former Pittsburgh starter departed without a contract offer and it is doubtful the Vikings could have met his financial expectations.
The Vikings were also one of several teams which considered acquiring Gardner, a former first-round choice, from the Redskins. Gardner has been granted permission by the Redskins to speak with other teams about possible trade scenarios.
Adding Taylor represents Minnesota's first foray into free agency on the offensive side of the ball. The Vikings have acquired four new defensive starters, one via trade and three more as free agents, in the past two weeks.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.