With Jasper Brinkley currently weighing his options on the free agency market, the Minnesota Vikings have a gaping hole to fill at middle linebacker.
While the position could be filled via the 2013 NFL Draft, the Vikings appear to be open to any available options, including aging veterans who have yet to be re-signed by NFC North rivals. Yes, I’m talking about Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher.
According to Bears beat writer Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Tribune, the Vikings have been in contact with Urlacher since free agency opened on Tuesday.
“A Vikings source confirmed talks with Urlacher’s camp, but said the team was ‘monitoring’ the situation and still believed Urlacher eventually would remain with the Bears,” Mulligan said.
The Bears were handed a two-year proposal from Urlacher’s people last week, but have yet to respond with a counter offer. It appears that they’re weighing their options and seeing how the market for Urlacher plays out.
“We have approached him about coming back,” Bears GM Phil Emery said at a news conference. “As far as working it out, that is ongoing.”
The only other teams to have shown interest in Urlacher so far are the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys. Despite an increasingly-weak middle linebacker free agency class, Urlacher’s age and injury history have made him a less-than-ideal solution for teams with holes at the position.
According to Mulligan, Urlacher is seeking a deal that would pay him somewhere around $5.5 million per year. Especially for the cap-strapped Bears, who have already spent considerable money in signing tight end Martellus Bennett and offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod, bringing back an aging Urlacher for that price seems like a stretch.
Meanwhile, the Vikings still have some room under the cap to work with. They have yet to make any free agency splashes, instead focusing on re-signing their in-house free agents. Still, considering the direction the team is moving in, signing Urlacher might not be the best move.
It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this. The Vikings need a starting-caliber middle linebacker, but the 34-year-old Urlacher seems like a poor fit. More than likely, this is just a case of Vikings GM Rick Spielman doing his due diligence and seeing what’s available.
Stranger things have happened in the Twin Cities, though.