NFL Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings Have Big Decisions to Make at Linebacker in Off-Season

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the dust has settled from the Minnesota Vikings 2012-13 season, the off-season picture is starting to get a bit clearer. It’s time to start analyzing the team’s needs heading into next season, and the first big part of that of course is free agency.

This year, the Vikings are faced with the majority of their key linebackers heading for unrestricted free agency. This includes: Erin Henderson, Jasper Brinkley, and Marvin Mitchell.

These three linebackers accounted for 185 tackles in 2012, with Henderson(79) and Brinkley(97) making up the majority of those tackles. Brinkley was the only one to play in all 16 games.

So just by looking at the stats alone, it would seem that Mitchell is the most likely to be the odd man out. If that is the case, I won’t be surprised at all, because he’s also 28, and we all know this team will be built around youth with Rick Spielman running the show.

Henderson and Mitchell will, and no doubt should be in consideration for new contracts. Henderson was re-upped last year on a one-year deal worth $2 million, while Brinkley’s rookie contract (4 years/$1.9 million) is expiring.

Minnesota knew what it would get from Henderson as he’s been a member of the team for five years, while Brinkley was the big question mark heading into this season. Brinkley finally showed that he could stay healthy for entire year, and did a solid job all season long for a vastly improved defensive unit.

Henderson is on record as saying he wants to be a Viking, and I think he does get a new deal. Brinkley again is more of a question mark and a much more likely candidate to test the market. One of these two guys will definitely be back in Minnesota next year, and there’s a very good chance they both could be back with multi-year deals worth substantially more money.

The biggest question still remains though, will Spielman side with youth and set his sights on a linebacker early in the 2013 NFL Draft? Will he decide that one or two of these free agent linebackers are expendable?

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