Minnesota Vikings: What They Lose by Letting E.J. Henderson Walk in Free Agency
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Even if they did, it's not likely they'd choose to use it on middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, who will be 32 years old when the season starts and has been slowed some by injuries in recent years.
Middle linebacker is not an easily replaceable position. But the Vikings have a better chance this year to find a worthwhile starter to take Henderson's spot as the 2012 linebacker draft class one of the best in many years.
The Vikings might possess enough talent already on their roster to provide a replacement for Henderson, such as Jasper Brinkley, who missed all of the 2011 season with a hip injury, or the newly-signed Elimimian Solomon, who came to the team in January from the CFL.
However, Henderson's contributions to the team over his nine-year career are going to be missed, as is his veteran experience.
What would you prefer the Vikings do about E.J. Henderson?
Even in 2011, when it seemed like only defensive end Jared Allen was making an impact on defense, Henderson still continued to perform at a high level, with 110 total tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles.
By letting Henderson go, the Vikings save themselves a good deal of money and allow them to bring in younger players while building for the future.
If the Vikings retain Henderson, it wouldn't be for more than a year. Considering their chances to draft a long-term starter this year are higher than ever with such a deep draft class of linebackers, it is ultimately in the team's best interest to let Henderson go.
Without Henderson, however, the team will lack leadership at one of their most important defensive positions. Committing yourself to youth is something every team has to do at one point or another, but its benefits come at a price.
Henderson is aging, to be sure, and that combined with a titanium rod in his leg isn't going to do any favors for his mobility. However, he's still an effective linebacker, even if he's been priced- and aged-out in Minnesota.
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