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
Sizing up the competitionThe Vikings will face some difficult challenges in 2017. These are the strengths and weaknesses that their opponents will bring to the table.
Viking Update5:29 AM
Sunday slant: Breakout Vikings for defenseThis week’s draft will help shape the roster, but no matter who is added to the mix, some veteran players on the roster right now have every chance to earn a significant (maybe…
Viking Update5:15 AM
Vikings visitor analysis: The versatile TEThe Minnesota Vikings are in search of a tight end to add depth and they visited with one that was very impressive at the NFL Scouting Combine and showed versatility in college.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 6:13 AM
Most feared player for each Vikings opponentWith the Minnesota Vikings’ schedule out, we break down the key player for each opponent that will be key to each game plan.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 5:43 AM