No matter how many times the media mentions it, signing Brian Urlacher doesn’t appear to be in the Minnesota Vikings immediate plans.
They seem ready to move Erin Henderson inside to fill the middle linebacker spot, but what happens at weakside linebacker, the position he’s held for the past two seasons? While some have mentioned rookie Gerald Hodges as an option, there’s a veteran still available who could fill the spot admirably.
That’s Daryl Smith, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The nine-year NFL veteran spent the majority of the 2012 campaign watching from the sidelines while battling a serious groin injury. He returned for the last two games of the season, managing six tackles in limited action.
With a new regime in place, the Jaguars decided not to re-sign Smith. That decision, however, could give the Vikings a golden opportunity to swoop in and steal away the underrated veteran.
Prior to his season lost to injury, Smith was arguably the most underrated linebacker in the league. With the natural instincts, athleticism and football smarts to excel against both the run and pass, he was a dominant playmaker for the Jaguars. From 2009-2011, he racked up 311 tackles, 8.5 sacks, three interceptions and six forced fumbles. He was the do-all linebacker in Jacksonville.
If signed by the Vikings, Smith would likely take over the “Will” linebacker spot while Henderson made the move to “Mike.” Smith even has the experience and versatility to replace Jasper Brinkley in the middle if need be.
Considering the fact that Smith has received almost no interest this offseason, the Vikings could get the 31-year-old linebacker for cheap. It also begs the question why Smith is still on the market. Chances are, though, that missing most of last season and his age have stunted his market value. That, however, doesn’t mean that he can’t make an impact.
It’s an underrated move that the Vikings would be wise to make. Smith won’t last in the free agent pool forever.