The Minnesota Vikings spent the first day of NFL free agency making moves to retain their own players, with offensive tackle Phil Loadholt, fullback Jerome Felton, wide receiver Jerome Simpson, safety Jamarca Sanford and linebacker Erin Henderson all re-signing on Tuesday. Bringing back Henderson helps, but if Jasper Brinkley is not re-signed a new middle linebacker will be needed.
Could a veteran that was released on Tuesday be a fit?
The Miami Dolphins released Karlos Dansby as part of their effort to refurbish their linebacking corp. He had a team-leading 134 total tackles in 2012 (101 solo) along with nine pass break-ups, and played every game despite dealing with a torn left bicep. But he was slated to make over $15 million over the final two years of his contract, and with Miami signing Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler on Tuesday there was no room for him.
Dansby spent the first six of his nine NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, and he has experience playing in 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes as a three-down linebacker. There are no indications that last season’s bicep injury will linger, but he will turn 32 during next season and may find a limited market for his services based on that alone.
Dansby’s age makes him a poor fit for Vikings’ general manager Rick Spielman’s overall plan to have a young roster, but on the field I think he is a good fit. He has the versatility, both skill and scheme-wise, that Minnesota’s current group of linebackers lacks. His asking price will surely dictate the level of interest the Vikings have, if they have any initial interest at all. But if Dansby can be signed to a one or two-year deal for reasonable guaranteed money, they should be among the teams to make an offer.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.