For the second straight day, the Vikings lost a leader and quality person on the defensive side of the ball. Today it was linebacker Kailee Wong, who signed a four-year deal with the Houston Texans, reportedly worth about $3 million a year.
Wong, who went from a defensive lineman at Stanford to an outside linebacker to an inside linebacker with the Vikings, is expected to return to a hybrid pass-rushing linebacker role in the Texans' 3-4 defense under head coach Dom Capers. That, according to Wong's agent, was a major reason he chose over Houston over the Cleveland Browns, who met with Wong earlier this week.
Wong told VU late in the season that it didn't matter to him much if he played inside linebacker or middle linebacker, but many often thought his strengths were better suited as an outside pass-rushing linebacker.
For Vikings fans, it means the defense lost its second starting linebacker (after the departure of Ed McDaniel) and leaves Willie Shaw's defense with no full-time starters returning. The Vikings are likely to look for insurance-policy linebackers in free agency and have them compete against any linebackers drafted in April.
Right now, the most experienced linebackers on the roster are Lemanski Hall and Jim Nelson, neither of whom were full-time starters in 2001.
Wong, drafted in the second round (51st overall) in 1998, led the Vikings in 2001 with 116 tackles. He was also the only Vikings defender to score a touchdown off an interception last season.
Wong Signs With Texans
Viking Update Top Stories
Viking Update Mock Draft, Version 2The Minnesota Vikings don’t have a first-round pick, but they will be watching talent come off the board in the first round, including selections by their NFC North rivals.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 9:52 AM
Vikings decision-makers learning the offenseAs the Minnesota Vikings look to improve their offense, the decision-makers are getting more involved on that side of the ball.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 4:39 AM
Holler: Peterson's days as a Viking numberedWe will likely find out this week whether Adrian Peterson is a Minnesota Viking or not and the smart money is pointing toward "no."
Viking UpdateYesterday at 4:16 AM
Cornerbacks: Will Vikings have a need?The necessity for free-agent help at cornerback in a flooded market may have more to do with decisions made internally for the guys they already have.
Viking UpdateSunday at 7:03 AM