This isn’t a new story—it’s one the Minnesota Vikings and their fans know all too well.
Caught between a rock and a hard place in 2009, Minnesota coerced Brett Favre out of retirement at 39 years old for his 19th season.
With untested Tarvaris Jackson slated to lead the 2009 Vikings, Brad Childress and company knew the former Green Bay Packer gave them a better shot to contend than the uninspiring Jackson.
They were right.
If not for a classic forced Favre throw, the Vikings would have played in Super Bowl XLIV and had a good chance to win their first Vince Lombardi Trophy. Along the way, Favre posted an MVP-caliber season with 4,202 passing yards, a 68.4 percent completion percentage, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
That worked out.
Now the Vikings are pondering a similar type of move. They may acquire another franchise face from a different NFC North rival who is considered past his prime, although according to the Los Angeles Times, Vikings personnel have since denied this story.
Would you expect them to do anything else?.
NFL.com reported on Tuesday that Brian Urlacher has had discussions with the Vikings and Denver Broncos about suiting up for them in 2013. That same report says Urlacher is leaning toward signing with Minnesota.
Now here’s where the similarities between the Favre situation begin.
Urlacher, a 13-year middle linebacker of the Chicago Bears, could play his former team twice a year as a Viking. That’s very appealing for a veteran looking to stick it to his former employer. Favre was at his best against Green Bay in 2009 with a 69.5 completion percentage, going 41-for-59 for 515 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
Players often say games against their former teams are just another game, but no one should believe them. We all know a grudge exists when a player is forced out before he’s ready. They’re only human.
Signing with the Vikings would rejuvenate the 34-year-old New Mexico product. However, just like Favre in 2009, many are questioning Urlacher’s ability to play at a high level—as they should.
Urlacher has battled injuries over the past four years, missing 19 games. He missed the final four games of 2012 with a hamstring injury and all of 2009 except the season opener with a dislocated wrist.
There are also serious concerns about his left knee which he injured in the 2011 season finale. Many say he still hasn’t recovered from that injury.
Urlacher will have to prove to Minnesota that his knee is 100 percent before the Vikings consider adding him. If there are serious concerns, the Vikings should walk away.
He is worth the look, though. When playing a full 16-game season, Urlacher has only once recorded fewer than 100 tackles (2008, 93 tackles).
He accumulated 68 in 12 games last season but a combined 227 the two seasons prior.
Should the 34-year-old Urlacher sign with Minnesota and win the starting job, he wouldn’t be an every-down linebacker. Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway would still both handle nickel responsibilities, allowing Urlacher more down time.
With Urlacher inside, it would allow Henderson to play his natural outside linebacker position. The Maryland product says he focused this offseason on moving inside and has added four pounds (that’s not much) to beef up for the shift.
Whether or not the Vikings sign Urlacher will come down to how they answer the question: Is the defense better with Urlacher at middle linebacker and Henderson at outside linebacker or with Henderson at middle linebacker and an unknown like fourth-round pick Gerald Hodges at outside linebacker?
If they believe the latter, then they won’t sign Urlacher. He isn’t likely to sign somewhere as a backup anyway.