Minnesota Vikings Re-Sign Linebacker Erin Henderson to One-Year Deal

Tanner ThomsSenior Analyst IMarch 23, 2012

SEATTLE - AUGUST 20:  Linebacker Erin Henderson #50 of the Minnesota Vikings warms up prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on August 20, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The Vikings won 20-7. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

For many years, Vikings fans knew of only one Henderson—E.J. Henderson. This all changed in 2008 when Erin, the brother of the aforementioned E.J., declared for the draft.

I, like many, was praying Minnesota would take him. I mean, it's not too often two brothers get to play on the same team together, let alone right next to each other.

However, as it turned out, Erin would not be selected by the Vikings, or any team for that matter. Henderson was quickly scooped up as an undrafted free agent, with his brother likely being the driving force.

In 2008, Henderson rarely saw the field but did make an impression on special teams. He recorded 15 tackles and a forced fumble in only 10 games.

Despite his obvious potential, Henderson's 2009 season was one to forget. He only saw the field on two occasions and was suspended four games for violating the NFL's Banned Substances Policy.

There were mild reports in the 2010 offseason that the Vikings might cut ties with the younger Henderson brother. To some surprise, Minnesota kept the 23-year-old, showing faith that he could put up numbers similar to E.J.

2010 was also a bit of a wash for Henderson. While he didn't get into any trouble with the league, he was, once again, barely able to get on the field.

That being said, the Vikings didn't intend to cut him because he only had one year left on his contract, and it was for a very cost-friendly amount.

After Minnesota released linebacker Ben Leber, that opened the door for Erin Henderson to start at strongside linebacker—opposite of Chad Greenway and next to E.J. Henderson.

Erin Henderson started in 11 of 15 games, recording 70 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Although he left the field on passing downs, Henderson showed that he does indeed have the potential to be the starting strongside linebacker of the future.

Despite becoming a free agent, the Vikings had complete confidence that they could re-sign the 25-year-old to a fair deal.

Surprising to most, Henderson was greeted with a fairly quiet market, and the Vikings hadn't even made an offer.

To clear up some confusion, the Vikings had no intention of letting Henderson walk. Instead, they wanted him to test the market—see how other linebackers were getting paid, and then the two sides would talk about reaching a modest deal.

On March 17, it was reported via 1500espn.com that Henderson hadn't received a contract offer from the Vikings, and wasn't sure why.

"What's crazy, is that I'm not even asking for big money. All I want is respectable money for what I'm asked to do. I've watched every single one of my games from last year, ten times over. I know what I'm worth," Henderson said. 

There's no denying that he did have a great point, and six days later, the Vikings agreed, signing Henderson to a one-year, $2 million contract, according to The St. Paul Pioneer Press.

When a player of Henderson's caliber gets a one-year deal, it's usually because that team wants the player to prove what he's worth. You can't just give five-year deals to guys you think have potential.

While it's only a one-year deal, Minnesota will take a long look at locking Henderson up for years to come. The one year allows teams to have longer negotiations than what free agency would allow.

If the Vikings deem that Henderson is not worth a long-term deal, they will simply let him play out his contract and let it expire.

In my opinion, I believe we are looking at a gem in Erin Henderson. He's great at defending the run and uses his 6'3", 245-pound frame to his full advantage.

I'm not sure whether or not the Vikings intend to keep taking him out on passing downs, but they're not likely to do so if he's racking up tackles.

In 2012, Erin Henderson will undoubtedly be a starter, but he will most likely be playing his first season in the NFL without his brother.

The Vikings declined to use their franchise tag on E.J. and instead let him walk in free agency. To this point, there hasn't been one report that Minnesota intends to re-sign him.

With his past injuries, E.J. could be looking for a job for longer than he'd hoped. In fact, I haven't heard of a single team being linked to him. Things aren't looking so good for the near 32-year-old.

Although things can very well change, expect to see a Vikings linebacker core that consists of Erin Henderson, Jasper Brinkley and Chad Greenway.

While it doesn't look pretty on paper, the Minnesota Vikings could soon possess one of the best, young linebacker group in the NFL. 

Be sure to follow Tanner on Twitter @TannerThoms


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