Arizona fired its own shot in the never-ending build-up of the NFC West Thursday by signing linebacker Jasper Brinkley to a three-year contract.
Brinkley, a fifth-round draft pick of the Vikings in 2009, became a full-time starter last season when the team opted not to re-sign veteran E.J. Henderson. Brinkley started 15 games last season, recording 114 tackles and three forced fumbles.
After not being part of the six-player re-signing binge on the day free agency opened Tuesday, Brinkley visited the Giants on Wednesday, but left without a contract. After meeting with the Cardinals front office Thursday, a deal was struck.
"Thanks to everyone in MN for all the support over my last four years," Brinkley tweeted Thursday night. "It really was a blessing to play with some great guys n great fans."
With Brinkley gone, the current Vikings depth chart has Audie Cole, a seventh-round draft pick last year, and Tyrone McKenzie and Larry Dean behind starters Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson.
Brinkley finished third on the Vikings in 2012 with his 114 tackles, behind only Greenway (184) and Harrison Smith (133). The signing of Brinkley by the Cardinals opens the door for the Vikings to either find a veteran middle linebacker in free agency or focus one of their first-round picks at the position – at this point, only Notre Dame's Manti Te'o and LSU's Kevin Minter rated as first-round MLB prospects (some see Alec Ogletree as a middle linebacker; others an outside linebacker).
While the Vikings have a long time before the regular season opener, for the third straight year they enter the start of a new season with front-burner questions at middle linebacker.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Brinkley signs with Arizona, leaving MLB void
Bear Report Top Stories
Chicago Bears finalize first cutsAfter five roster moves, including placing C Hroniss Grasu on IR, the Chicago Bears roster is now down to the required 75 players.
Bear Report9:13 AM
Bears All-22 Lab: RB Jeremy LangfordA detailed film break down of Chicago Bears running back Jeremy Langford, who appears tailor made for the club's new zone-blocking, one-cut system.
Bear ReportYesterday at 12:29 PM
Bears Week 3 Winners & LosersFour Chicago Bears who had strong showings in Saturday's 23-7 preseason loss to the Chiefs, and four players whose performances left a lot to be desired.
Bear ReportSaturday at 2:01 PM
Chiefs hand Bears 3rd straight preseason lossThe Chicago Bears are now win-less in the preseason following a 23-7 loss to the Kansas Chiefs at Soldier Field this afternoon.
Bear ReportSaturday at 1:25 PM
Bears-Chiefs Live Game-Day ChatJoin Bear Report publisher Jeremy Stoltz for a live chat throughout today's preseason contest between the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Bear ReportSaturday at 7:32 AM