View the top photos of Vikings LB Eric Wilson from the 2019 season.
With the NFL Scouting Combine in the rearview mirror, 2020 free agency is just around the corner. That period will officially begin at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 18 when the new league year begins.
Throughout the week, Eric Smith, Craig Peters and I will continue diving into Minnesota's current roster status by position. We'll offer a refresher on which Vikings are scheduled to become free agents, where potential needs might be and note players from other teams that are set to become free agents.
Up next? The linebackers …
Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Ben Gedeon, Cameron Smith
2019 Stats (tackles are team stats)
Barr: 14 games (14 starts); 96 tackles (72 solo), 1.5 sacks, 1 interception, 6 tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hurries, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 7 passes defensed
Kendricks: 15 games (15 starts); 130 tackles (88 solo), 0.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 4 quarterback hurries, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 12 passes defensed
Gedeon: 8 games (5 starts); 18 tackles (7 solo)
Smith: 5 games (0 starts); 5 tackles (3 solo)
The Vikings re-signed Barr during the 2019 free agency period, keeping the Barr-Kendricks duo intact in Minnesota for the fifth consecutive season. The former UCLA teammates combined for 226 tackles (coaches' tally) and once again commanded respect from opposing offenses. Kendricks' career year earned him First-Team All-Pro honors, and he also was invited to his first Pro Bowl as an alternate after initially being snubbed for the all-star game.
Gedeon played in eight games through Week 11 but was placed on Injured Reserve for the second stretch of the season. Smith, whom the Vikings drafted in the fifth round last spring, saw limited action during his rookie campaign.
SCHEDULED TO BECOME FREE AGENTS:
Originally a fifth-round selection in 2016, Brothers has contributed almost solely as a special teamer throughout his four seasons with the Vikings. In 2019, he tied for second on the team with seven special teams tackles.
*Note: Wilson will be a restricted free agent.
The Vikings signed Wilson as an undrafted rookie in 2017, and he has taken a significant step forward each season. Wilson filled in on various occasions last season, making six starts on defense, and played a career-high 379 (35 percent) of Minnesota's defensive snaps. He also continued to have success on special teams, playing 66 percent of snaps, highlighted by his punt block in the season opener against Atlanta.
Minnesota's need at linebacker will be partially determined by whether or not the team re-signs Brothers and Wilson. Whether or not Gedeon has returned to full health also likely will be a factor.
The Vikings have historically kept five or six linebackers on their 53-man roster – and have more players at the position on the 90-man during training camp – so it's likely that the position group will grow this offseason through the NFL Draft and possibly free agency.
WHO'S POTENTIALLY OUT THERE:
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling teamed up again this year to rate their top 101 potential free agents.
The following linebackers are listed in order of their overall rankings: 15. Cory Littleton, 44. Kyle Van Noy, 45. Joe Schobert, 52. Jamie Collins, 64. Blake Martinez, 66. Nick Kwiatkoski, 80. De'Vondre Campbell, 81. Danny Trevathan
Other linebackers set to become free agents that didn't crack the top 101 are as follows (listed in order of 2019 team): Joe Walker and Brooks Reed (AZ), Patrick Onwuasor, Pernell McPhee and Josh Bynes (BAL), Bruce Irvin (CAR), Aaron Lynch (CHI), Nick Vigil (CIN), Sean Lee (DAL), Jeremiah Attaochu (DEN), Kyler Fackrell and B.J. Goodson (GB), Barkevious Mingo (HOU), Preston Brown and Donald Payne* (JAX), Reggie Ragland and Darron Lee (KC), Josh Carraway(LAR), Vince Biegel* (MIA), Elandon Roberts (NE), A.J. Klein (NO), Deone Bucannon, Kareem Martin, David Mayo and Alec Ogletree (NYG), James Burgess, Brandon Copeland, Neville Hewitt and Jordan Jenkins (NYJ), Nicholas Morrow and Vontaze Burfict (OAK), Mychal Kendricks (SEA) and Kevin Minter (TB), Kamalei Correa, Wesley Woodyard and Reggie Gilbert (TEN), Jon Bostic (WAS)
* Restricted free agent
** Exclusive rights free agent
Five of the above linebackers slated to become free agents were first-round picks: Irvin (No. 15 in 2012), Mingo (No. 6 in 2013), Lee (No. 20 in 2016), Bucannon (No. 27 in 2014) and Ogletree (No. 30 in 2013). Lee is the only one of the five who is still with his original team.
Irvin, who has played a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role, started his career with four seasons in Seattle, followed back two-plus seasons in Oakland, a brief stop in Atlanta and the 2019 season in Carolina. He started 12 of 13 games played for the Panthers (lining up at DE and LB) and recorded 36 tackles (league stats), 8.5 sacks, one safety, eight tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hits, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a pass defensed.
Mingo has had an up-and-down journey since being drafted by the Browns. After starting 14 games for the Seahawks in 2018, he started just one of 16 games played for the Texans last season and totaled six tackles and two quarterback hits. Drafted 24 spots after Mingo in 2013, Ogletree has put up much more consistent numbers. He started all 13 games he played for the Giants in 2019.
The Giants signed hybrid safety/linebacker Bucannon in October. Over nine games, he totaled 25 tackles, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit.
After missing half of the 2018 season, Lee started 13 of 16 games in 2019 and totaled 86 tackles (55 solo), 1.0 sack, one interception, four tackles for loss and four passes defensed.