I'm not sure I understand the strong prejudice about cropping in this forum. People here don't get offended by bumping ISO as high as 3200 (which I think was suggested by others) but cropping is a big deal. I have D7000 and I am much more willing to crop images than bump the ISO that high. I seem to be losing quite a bit of sharpness with 1600 -> 3200 ISO on the D7000; In contrast, I can crop a tremendous amount so long as the initial image is very sharp (good lens, subjects in focus, HIGH shutter speed, a monopod if needed). I DO think the 70-300 VR is an amazing option, but am surprised by the overwhelming view that cropping is a deviant act. -- I think the high megapixel count of the D7000 sensor is far more forgiving than the supposedly stellar high ISO and most good Nikon lenses seem to keep up with the D7000 sensor. I only use the ISO that high if I have no other option and resign myself to a tradeoff in image quality.
Another option that didn't get mentioned above is the 180AF-ED/2.8. I have one and the images that lens produces are amazing (especially on slide film). It's cheap ($400 cheapest on eBay, got mine for $450), light weight, and truly stellar images. However, not get you as close (and people here hate croppers), hunts in low light, not as good AF, so I would recommend the 70-300 over it.