The Vikings lost middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley in free agency. They’ve yet to replace him. And they realize they need to.
“We know we have to get one. That’s no secret,” linebackers coach Mike Singletary said Sunday, via Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “When we do, we just have to teach him as much as we can, as fast as we can. It’s going to be a lot of work.”
The gaping hole between Chad Greenway on the strong side and Erin Henderson on the weak side likely will be filled in the draft, where Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o has become an intriguing option for a franchise that has shown an affinity in recent years for Golden Domers. With players like safety Harrison Smith (round one, 2011) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (round two, 2010) in the building, the Vikings will be able to find out all they need to know about whether Te’o can overcome one of the most bizarre off-field issues any incoming rookie ever has experienced.
The other possibility remains free agency, where Brian Urlacher has been available for nearly four weeks. The Vikings reportedly would be interested if/when Urlacher’s price drops into a range commensurate with his age.
But Urlacher wouldn’t be a long-term fix. And this could the best time to draft a middle linebacker of the future.
“Fortunately, this a good year to draft one,” said Singletary, who made it to the Hall of Fame as a middle linebacker with the Bears. “The kid at Kansas State, Arthur Brown, the kid at Notre Dame [Te'o], the kid at LSU [Kevin Minter], [Alec] Ogletree, there are a few guys that have good quality. It just depends on how it shakes out.”
It starts shaking in 18 days. If if when the dust settles they can’t get the guy they want, it may be time to start increasing the potential pay grade for Urlacher.