2008 Free Agents: Inside Linebackers

The Vikings don't need to go looking for a starting linebacker in free agency, but if they lose one of their own free agents, they could use some depth. We list the inside linebackers scheduled for free agency in March.

As with all of their linebackers, the Vikings are set on the starting front at middle linebacker. E.J. Henderson took his opportunity to move back to the middle in 2007 and his performance had others saying he should be a Pro Bowl consideration.

Henderson didn't end up making the Pro Bowl as a regular, but he was honored as an alternate. His move back to the middle of the defense resulted in 155 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 14 tackles-for-loss and 19 quarterback hurries. He was dominant at times, but more importantly he appeared to run a defense that had players on the same page and helped lead them to the top ranking in the league for stopping the run (once again, they also finished last in pass defense).

The only real question for the Vikings at the linebacker position entering the 2008 offseason revolves around their depth, which they didn't need to use much in 2007. Dontarrious Thomas, who is the team's primary backup at all three linebacker positions is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent if he doesn't sign a new contract with the Vikings by March 3. If he gets into free agency, look for the Vikings to secure other depth with a mid-level signing. The following are their options as unrestricted and restricted free agents at inside linebacker (with their years of experience parentheses):


Karlos Dansby, Arizona Cardinals (4)
Lemar Marshall, Cincinnati Bengals (6)
Teddy Lehman, Detroit Lions (4)
Danny Clark, Houston Texans (8)
Tony Gilbert, Jacksonville Jaguars (5)
Dontarrious Thomas, Minnesota Vikings (4)
Tedy Bruschi, New England Patriots (12)
Larry Izzo, New England Patriots (12)
Mark Simoneau, New Orleans Saints (8)
Brad Kassell, New York Jets (6)
Niko Koutouvides, Seattle Seahawks (4)
Jeremiah Trotter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10)
Robert Reynolds, Tennessee Titans (4)
Randall Godfrey, Washington Redskins (12)


Mike Smith, Baltimore Ravens (3)
Adam Seward, Carolina Panthers (3)

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