The Vikings have two Henderson brothers in the starting lineup among their three linebackers. Next year, they might have none.
Both E.J. Henderson and Erin Henderson are free agents at the end of the year and, while the Vikings have made a habit of signing players they want to keep in mid to late December before the postseason begins, both Hendersons find themselves without contract offers on the table.
E.J. has been a mainstay of the Vikings for nine years but said Wednesday that he and his agent have had no contact from the organization. Asked if that seemed strange to him, especially seeing as the Vikings made him a mid-December re-signing when he inked his last deal, he admitted the lack of communication wasn't expected.
"It kind of surprises me," E.J. said. "I thought maybe we would have got something worked out by now or at least started to talk about it. But, who knows what's going on upstairs (in the front office)? They have a lot of things to deal with – the coaches, the G.M., the owner. We'll see how it works out, but that's all you can do at this point."
Henderson said that, in the back of his mind, there is part of him that wonders how much he could command on the open market, where 31 other teams could make bids on his services. But he reiterated that he and his family consider the Twin Cities their home. His foundation recently opened an office in North Minneapolis, a clear sign that he expected to be a Viking moving forward, but said there is part of him that wonders what he could get offered if he became an unrestricted free agent.
"I guess you always think that as a free agent – see what kind of money you can get and what teams might be interested in you," E.J. said. "But, like I said before, this is my home. I would love to stay here. Of course, the money is important if I hit the market, but I would love to stay here."
E.J. said that he is looking to sign the last significant contract of his career this time around, whether it be a two-, three- or four-year deal. He has been around long enough to understand that the NFL is a "what have you done for me lately?" type of league, with neither a memory nor a conscience when it comes to making business decisions on the salary cap. He said both the money and the comfort level of "staying home" both factor in when it comes to making a multi-million-dollar decision.
"It's definitely strictly business any time you get into the situation where you're talking about setting yourself up for the rest of your life," E.J. said. "But it's definitely going to factor in that I've been here for nine years. We've made roots here. I'd love to retire a Viking. That's going to factor in, too."
In the same boat – whether it's a Viking ship or not – is Erin Henderson. Asked if he has been contacted about getting a new deal done before the team and he go separate ways in 10 days, he said that he and his representatives have yet to be in contact with the Viking about a contract extension.
"I don't know what to expect at this point," Erin said. "I'm just going to go out and play these next two games and see what happens. The people upstairs will take care of what they have to take care of at the end of the year. I know my agent will put me in the best situation possible."
Erin said that, like his brother, he has taken root in Minnesota. He has started a family here and said a couple of weeks ago that if he had his druthers, he would retire a Viking.
"I would love to be here. I've made myself a home here," Erin said. "I've gotten comfortable here. I'm familiar with everything that goes on here. I'm familiar with all you jerks (in the local media) – I'm just joking. I'm familiar with all you guys and you get in a comfort zone – just little things like getting a haircut or your massage therapist. I would like to be here. I would hope my brother would be here too, but you never really know how things are going to play out."
Of all the decisions the Vikings have to make, it would seem logical that the Hendersons would be one of the higher priorities either way – keeping both or allowing both to enter free agency. Given that both have played well at a time when the Vikings are struggling at so many other levels, it may be just a matter of time before those contract talks begin. But, for the time being anyway, those discussions haven't happened.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Hendersons discuss pending free agency
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