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Updated: October 25th, 2013 8:07pm
Zulgad: Trading running back would make perfect sense for Vikings

Zulgad: Trading running back would make perfect sense for Vikings

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by Judd Zulgad

St. Paul Pioneer Press sports columnist Tom Powers did every talk-show host in the Twin Cities, not to mention the national folks, a tremendous favor a few weeks back when he wrote that the Minnesota Vikings should trade Adrian Peterson.

As unlikely as it might be that the Vikings would deal their star running back, Powers' column managed to spark plenty of dialogue about whether it would be a wise move.

The reality is that Peterson will be going nowhere before the NFL trade deadline arrives at 3 p.m. Tuesday. But that does not mean the Vikings shouldn't be actively shopping a running back.

The player they should be looking to move is Toby Gerhart.

There is absolutely no reason that Gerhart should wake up Wednesday morning and still be an employee at Winter Park. This is no knock against Gerhart, but rather a logical idea for a deal that would benefit both player and team.

Gerhart is in the final season of his rookie contract and is due $630,000 this year, plus a $25,000 workout bonus. This means that, unlike with Peterson, the Vikings would not be trying to move a guy with a big contract that would cause salary-cap challenges for any team.

The Vikings asking price for Gerhart also could be very reasonable.

If they can get a mid- or late-round draft pick, they should take it. Otherwise, Gerhart is going to walk away as a free agent this offseason and the only possibility will be that the Vikings receive a compensatory pick in the draft. Compensatory picks can not be packaged in a trade.

There is no way the Vikings are going to convince Gerhart to stick around. A second-round pick in 2010, Gerhart was obtained to replace Chester Taylor as Peterson's backup.

Gerhart had a career-high 109 rushing attempts for 531 yards in 16 games in 2011 when Peterson missed four games because of injury. He also caught a career-best 23 passes that season.

Otherwise, Gerhart had 81 rushing attempts and 21 receptions in 2010, and 50 rushes and 20 catches last season. In six games this year, Gerhart has two (yes, two) rushing attempts and seven receptions.

He was not handed the ball once in last Monday night's loss to the New York Giants, despite the fact Peterson had a sore hamstring and carried the ball only 13 times.

Gerhart has proven himself to be valuable in pass protection on third down - something that Peterson never will be very good at - but with the Vikings sitting at 1-5 and going nowhere, do they really need to keep Gerhart around to protect the quarterback?

The Vikings could find another running back to take over that role.

Gerhart has never complained since the day he arrived in Minnesota, despite the fact he was Stanford's second all-time leading rusher when he left the school with 3,522 yards. Gerhart could easily be a starting running back in this league and he has to know it. He also could help a contender this season and possibly find a long-term home in doing so.

The Vikings are in a position to reward Gerhart by sending him to a team before Tuesday's deadline and, in doing so, also get something in return.

This wouldn't cause near the stir that talking about a Peterson trade does, but it makes perfect sense for all involved.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Toby Gerhart, Adrian Peterson