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Updated: March 13th, 2013 9:28pm
Report: Vikings have shown interest in Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher

Report: Vikings have shown interest in Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Vikings haven't signed anyone from another team through two days of free agency, but they've quietly kicked the tires on plenty.

That list includes longtime Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, according to the Chicago Tribune, which reported on Wednesday night the Vikings are "monitoring" the veteran's situation.

Urlacher is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time All-Pro for one of the Vikings' rivals. But he turns 35 in May and doesn't fit the profile Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is using to build the roster.

He has declined significantly in recent years, played only 12 games last season because of a hamstring injury and is looking for a deal in the range of $5.5 million, the Tribune reported.

That makes it a long shot the Vikings would have more than cursory interest in Urlacher, despite the likelihood their starting middle linebacker, Jasper Brinkley, will land elsewhere.

The Vikings re-signed weakside linebacker Erin Henderson to a two-year, $4 million deal on Tuesday in part because of his versatility. Brinkley, 27, wasn't considered a priority despite having some productivity against the run in his first season as a starter.

At the NFL scouting combine last month in Indianapolis, Spielman said the Vikings would "talk about Jasper. Jasper was coming off of an injury (hip surgery that cost him the 2011 season), and we're going to analyze where he's at."

Brinkley visited the New Giants on Wednesday, according to multiple reports, and was scheduled to visit the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday.

"With the uncertainty at the middle linebacker position, that creates some issues for us," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said at the combine. "We've got to get that solidified."

It's hard to imagine the Vikings will do that by signing a declining player, just one year after they opted against re-signing longtime starter E.J. Henderson.

On Tuesday, the Vikings released cornerback Antoine Winfield rather than paying him $7.25 million this season. If they weren't willing to pay that price for a guy who still is playing at a high level, why would they pay even half that for a guy who isn't?

The web site ProFootballFocus.com ranked Brinkley 50th among 53 inside linebackers who played at least 25% of the snaps last season. Urlacher was ranked 44th, though he was No. 3 in coverage.

If Urlacher plays again, the most likely suitor may be the same team he's played for the past 13 years, although the Tribune reported he's also drawn interest from Arizona and Dallas.

Perhaps the Vikings are just trying to do what the Bears did to them with right tackle Phil Loadholt on Tuesday -- driving up the price for another NFC North Division team to re-sign its own player.

Bears general manager Phil Emery said at a Wednesday media conference the Bears have approached Urlacher about returning but his potential return "is an ongoing process."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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