Dec 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson (50) celebrates his tackle of a Detroit Lions running back in the first quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings win 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings announced on Friday that they have cut linebacker Erin Henderson. Not a surprise after Henderson’s two DUI arrests, which came just weeks apart.
Cutting Henderson saves the Vikings $2 million on the salary cap for 2014.
Henderson, a favorite of former coach Leslie Frazier, was something of a Cinderella story in Minnesota, rising from UDFA status to become a solid starting OLB. Pro Football Focus ranked Henderson as one of the league’s top 99 players in 2011.
Despite the high PFF scores, Henderson was able to parlay his 2011 campaign only into a one-year deal with Minnesota. His production slipped some in 2012, but nevertheless the Vikings brought him back, signing him to a two year deal ahead of the 2013 season.
The Vikings’ decision to part ways with Jasper Brinkley left them without a starting Mike linebacker going into 2013. Henderson was shifted into that role reportedly against Leslie Frazier’s better judgment.
Henderson held his own for most of 2013 despite playing out of position, but things went off the rails for him late in the season when he was busted for DUI. Audie Cole was shifted to the Mike as Henderson sat out, and when Henderson returned, he was moved back to his familiar Will position.
A second DUI arrest in late December sealed Henderson’s fate.
Henderson now hits the market as a man with two legal strikes against him who only fits in certain schemes. He might make sense in Tampa Bay, where Leslie Frazier has taken over as defensive coordinator, but he would likely have to accept a back-up role on the talent-laden Buccaneers.