Future Free Agents: Outside Linebackers

Outside linebacker is loaded with big names in free agency, but the Vikings' needs there aren't pressing. However, if Napoleon Harris does leave via free agency, there are more than 40 possibilities at the position that could hit the open market. We review the big names and list the others.

Much of the Minnesota Vikings' needs at linebacker will depend on the outcome of Napoleon Harris' free-agent status, but it appears the team is ready to move on without last year's starting middle linebacker.

That likely will cause E.J. Henderson to move to middle linebacker and Chad Greenway to be given the chance to start on the play-making weak side.

The Vikings may be able to get away with those moves in the starting lineup if Greenway, Henderson and Ben Leber all stay healthy, but they will have to add some veteran depth behind the starters.

The outside linebacker position might hold as many big names in free agency as any other position this year.

Cato June, Indianapolis Colts – After a rookie season where he played little on defense, June will be one of the premier linebacker free agents if he makes it to the March 2 start of the open market, and might be the best defender on the market. In the last three seasons, he has 248 tackles and 10 interceptions. The Colts are going to be hard-pressed to re-sign their top free agents, with June, Dominic Rhodes and Dwight Freeney among them and less than $1 million in cap room.

Chris Draft, Carolina Panthers – Draft has gone back and forth between extremely productive seasons and extremely average campaigns, and 2006 would be put in the productive category with 107 tackles. He also had a 124-tackle season in 2003, but besides those two, he hasn't had more than 73 tackles in his other seven seasons. Other teams are already reportedly interested in him should he become available.

Donnie Edwards, San Diego Chargers – Edwards has 1,359 tackles in his 11-year career, but it's the duration of that career that likely will keep some teams away from spending big for the former Kansas City Chief and current Charger. Edwards will not re-sign with the Chargers, according to both sides of the negotiating table.

Adalius Thomas, Baltimore Ravens – As an unrestricted free agent, Thomas should be one of the most sought-after linebackers if he makes it to market. He has seven years of experience and 371 tackles to his name and is a versatile outside linebacker who also had an incredible 11 sacks in 2006 alone, 38.5 for his career. He hopes to re-sign with the Ravens, but they will need to make a strong offer before the start of free agency.

Demorrrio Williams, Atlanta Falcons (restricted) – Williams made an immediate impact as a rookie with the Falcons and in 2005 hit a career-high 127 tackles. That showed his potential, but in 2006 he wasn't a full-time starter.

OTHER FREE-AGENT OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Keith Adams, Miami Dolphins
James Allen, New Orleans Saints
Charlie Anderson, Houston Texans (restricted)
Tully Banta-Cain, New England Patriots
Shawn Barber, Philadelphia Eagles
Colby Bockwoldt, Tennessee Titans (restricted)
Rocky Boiman, Indianapolis Colts
Brandon Chillar, St. Louis Rams (restricted)
Patrick Chukwurah, Denver Broncos
Jorge Cordova, Jacksonville Jaguars (restricted)
James Darling, Arizona Cardinals
Na'il Diggs, Carolina Panthers
Troy Evans, Houston Texans
Gilbert Gardner, Indianapolis Colts (restricted)
Jason Glenn, Minnesota Vikings
Louis Green, Denver Broncos (restricted)
Warrick Holdman, Washington Redskins
Orlando Huff, Arizona Cardinals
Grant Irons, Oakland Raiders
Landon Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals (restricted)
Isaiah Kacyvenski, St. Louis Rams
D.D. Lewis, Seattle Seahawks
Alex Lewis, Detroit Lions (restricted)
Wesly Mallard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Terrence Melton, New Orleans Saints (restricted)
Caleb Miller, Cincinnati Bengals (restricted)
Hanibal Navies, San Francisco 49ers
Keith Newman, Miami Dolphins
Joe Odom, Buffalo Bills
Shantee Orr, Houston Texans
Antwan Peek, Houston Texans
Shaun Phillips, San Diego Chargers (restricted)
Tommy Polley, New Orleans Saints
Jeff Posey, Washington Redskins
Junior Seau, New England Patriots
Brandon Short, New York Giants
Jason Short, Philadelphia Eagles (restricted)
Al Singleton, Dallas Cowboys
T.J. Slaughter, San Francisco 49ers
Raonall Smith, St. Louis Rams
Cody Spencer, New York Jets (restricted)
Donnie Spragan, Miami Dolphins
Ben Taylor, Green Bay Packers
Bryan Thomas, New York Jets
Reggie Torbor, New York Giants (restricted)
Tracy White, Green Bay Packers
Marcus Wilkins, Cincinnati Bengals
Lavar Woods, Tennessee Titans

Viking Update Top Stories