Brinkley was cut recently by the Arizona Cardinals and has been making the rounds of linebacker-needy teams. He was expected to visit the Bills after his quick stop-over in Winter Park.
Jasper’s first stint in Minnesota was characterized by a lot of frustration, both for him and the fans who had to watch him play.
Taken in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, Brinkley sat for a couple of years behind E.J. Henderson while being groomed to eventually take over the MLB position. That grooming process hit a snag in 2011 when Brinkley suffered a hip injury that caused him to miss the entire season.
The Brad Childress draft pick came back in 2012 to play for Leslie Frazier, and found himself inserted as the starting Mike after the Vikings elected not to make a significant signing at that position in the offseason.
Brinkley had a couple of good games early, but began struggling as the season wore on, his massive shortcomings especially in zone coverage becoming painfully apparent.
The Vikes decided to part ways with Brinkley after 2012, and he signed with Arizona. The Vikings meanwhile went ahead with Erin Henderson as the Mike.
A year later, the Vikings find themselves in an even worse position than in 2013. Their starting Mike to end the season was Audie Cole, a guy who is both too small and not fast enough to hold up in the long-term as a starting MLB. Second year man Michael Mauti is a major question mark as well.
The Vikings’ willingness to kick the tires one more time on Brinkley only shows how bare the cupboard is at linebacker in Minnesota. The Vikes are expected to target the position early in the draft, possibly with Buffalo star Khalil Mack, though it now looks like Mack will be off the board before the Vikes pick at 8.
Brinkley, a strictly downhill player who can’t cover, would hopefully be merely a depth signing if the Vikings did bring him back. With their massive cap room, they can certainly find a better starting option.