Vikings hope to lock up unsung hero Jerome Felton
I say that Felton is an "unsung hero," but only by the media and fans. The league certainly recognizes his excellence, as he was voted into the Pro Bowl as the fullback for the NFC.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they signed him to a one-year deal last summer to see if he could prove that he was worth a contract. Not only did he prove that he was worth his contract, he proved that he deserves one of the biggest contracts of any fullback in the league. Now an unrestricted free agent, Felton has expressed interest in testing the open market, and he is expected to receive a contract somewhere in the range of $3 million a year. He has also stated that he wants to return to Minnesota, but at 26-years old and playing a position that absorbs a ton of collisions, he'll certainly want to make all the money he can while he's in his prime.
You can't blame the Vikings for only signing Felton for the 2012 season. This is a guy who started only 16 games over three seasons on terrible Lions teams, then started a total of three games for two different teams in 2011. When the Vikings signed him, Rotoworld noted that "he's still seeking an identity as a subpar lead blocker with mediocre running ability." I'm not trying to bash Rotoworld, but I am saying that Felton was definitely a diamond in the rough.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune expects that the Vikings will sign Felton before free agency opens, but if they want to do that, they'll likely have to dig much deeper into their wallets for a fullback than they are accustomed to. There is a chance that Felton will tell the Vikings he'd like to wait until free agency to see what kind of contracts are offered, but if the Vikings offer him a deal worth over $3 million annually (highest-paid fullback makes $3.7 million), he very well may cash in and skip out on free agency.
If Felton were to leave, however, Adrian Peterson's fantasy value would take a bit of a hit. Without his Pro Bowl lead blocker, Peterson's fantasy outlook would drop from "literally miraculous" to "best running back in the league."