Linebacker Weighs In

The Vikings' linebacker situation is all up in the air, with three players who each started at least six games all scheduled for free agency on March 3. Keith Newman lets us know what his status is.

All linebacker Keith Newman did was keep proving himself to the Vikings the last two years, but the free-agent-to-be expects that he'll be doing that with another team next year.

Newman told Viking Update Wednesday afternoon that he was informed the Vikings don't intend to bring him back.

"I really don't think they're going to bring me back," Newman said. "That's the indication they gave my agent, and if that's the case then I'll just look to move on."

Newman said one of his agents, Jim Steiner of SFX, talked with Vikings vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski about a week ago, and Steiner told Newman they don't intend to re-sign him.

"I guess they just said they were going in another direction, and I guess I'm not involved in that direction. With 10 coaching changes in the NFL this year, you've got 10 different guys that are going to do things 10 different ways. Some players may be included in the way the franchises are going in their football business and some not. You just have to be prepared to move on if that's the case," Newman said.

Newman said he talked with defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin and linebackers coach Fred Pagac after they joined the Vikings coaching staff, but those discussions were more on the lines of introducing themselves to him rather than in-depth conversations.

Tomlin is preparing to implement the "Tampa-2" defense with the Vikings this season, a change in philosophy that is generally thought to require speedy linebackers who are adept at coverage. Newman, however, thinks he could fit that Tampa-2 mold.

"I think I could fit. I don't think it would really change the linebackers. The Tampa Cover 2 is just a different style of defense based on a coverage," Newman said. "The linebackers … react to things, break on the ball when it's thrown short. I think I'd fit in quite nicely. I played some off the ball last year and we played some Cover 2 at times. I just think sometimes when teams have an idea of what type of linebacker you might be and what type of player you might be if the scheme changes, then you might not fit in."

After starting only one of the first four games at strongside linebacker in 2005, Newman broke into the starting lineup again in the fifth game of the season and started the next nine games before a knee injury kept him out of action for the final three games of 2005.

In 2004, he started 14 of the 15 games he played and both playoff contests. He has started 10 games or more each of the last five seasons in Minnesota and Buffalo, and 74 of his 90 games in the NFL. He finished ninth on the team in tackles in 2004 and 10th in 2005.

"It's just been two great years in Minnesota. The first year I was supposedly going to be a backup and I ended up playing the most snaps out of all the linebackers. Then they tried to replace me and I still ended up being an impact player at the end of the day."

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