[NOTE: Click the links to see our free agency rankings for quarterbacks, running backs, fullbacks,tight ends, centers, guards, offensive tackles, wide receivers, safeties, and cornerbacks. We’ll continue our way through all of the positions this week.]
Outside of Chad Greenway on the strong side, the Vikings have reached somewhat of a crossroads at the linebacker position. Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson were not the world’s best starters at their respective positions in 2012, and each are scheduled to be free agents next month along with backup Marvin Mitchell.
I wouldn’t be shocked if the Vikings re-signed one or both of their starters at some point this offseason, but there are also plenty of opportunities to think about outside of the current roster. The Draft has some interesting prospects, but free agency also contains some plausible options:
Perhaps the best linebacker set to be a free agent is one coming from our rivals in Green Bay. Brad Jones filled in very well for the injured Desmond Bishop last season, and it is clear that he should remain a starter somewhere. He could be a solid fit for the Vikings in the middle, and stealing from a divisional foe is always and added bonus.
It can be hard to spot decent individual talent on the Riaders, but weakside linebacker Phillip Wheeler earned himself a decent contract by sticking out during Oakland’s miserable season.
The Ravens already know that Ray Lewis is a goner, so that makes it even more crucial to re-sign Dannell Ellerbe, who was one of the NFL’s better linebackers this season.
With the starting duo staying healthy this season Larry Grant of the Niners did not get to see extensive action like he did in 2011. Still, if Grant can go elsewhere and play like he did two seasons ago as a starter, then he will soon be name hear a lot about.