The Minnesota Vikings weren’t interested in a lazy Sunday.
Minnesota was busy during the NFL’s three-day negotiating window before Tuesday’s official opening of free agency and locked in a starting defensive end and possible starting middle linebacker.
Less than an hour after agreeing to re-sign defensive end Everson Griffen, FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo reported Minnesota had also agreed to terms with linebacker Jasper Brinkley, bringing back the team’s former middle linebacker after one season in Arizona.
Brinkley, 28, had 27 tackles last season for the Arizona Cardinals, starting three of his 15 games. In starting 15 of 16 games with the Vikings in 2012, Brinkley had a career-high 99 tackles and three forced fumbles.
An original fifth-round draft pick by Minnesota, Brinkley signed a two-year contract with Arizona as a free agent last season. The Vikings signed Erin Henderson to a two-year contract and Brinkley left for the Cardinals, with both starting linebackers reaching free agency last offseason.
Minnesota moved Henderson to middle linebacker to replace Brinkley, but the Vikings also cut Henderson after one season, due in part to off-field issues.
Brinkley started three of the first four games last season, but his playing time was limited behind starters Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington after Washington returned from a four-game suspension.
Brinkley, who replaced E.J. Henderson as Minnesota’s starting middle linebacker in 2012, could have a chance to start next season for new coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings have two linebackers, Audie Cole and Michael Mauti, on the roster who have played inside. The only other linebackers on the roster are outside linebackers Chad Greenway and Gerald Hodges.