HIGH ABOVE THE MIDWEST -- I know what you're thinking, even as I blog from the friendly skies en route to NFC North headquarters. Many of you are tweeting it my way: Now that the Chicago Bears and Brian Urlacher have parted ways, would the Minnesota Vikings follow up on their reported discussions with the free agent middle linebacker?
It's true that the Vikings, like the Bears, don't have a starting-caliber middle linebacker on their roster. But all I can tell you is that signing Urlacher would contradict nearly everything that Rick Spielman has said and done in the 15 months since he has been the Vikings' general manager. If anything, Spielman has worked systematically to make the roster younger and to find long-term answers at positions of need rather than applying Band-Aid measures.
A few hours before the Bears announced their decision, I asked coach Leslie Frazier about the team's plan at middle linebacker. Jasper Brinkley, the Vikings' 2012 starter, has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, leaving the position barren at the moment.
"We've got the upcoming draft to try to address it," Frazier said, "and we'll also look at what's available in NFL free agency. It's definitely a position we need to address. We have a void there and we've got to find the right guy. It's a big part of our defense. We have to get better at the middle linebacker position."
Frazier made clear he wants a "three-down middle linebacker" who stays on the field in nickel situations and said "our defense will take a big step this season" if one can be found.
Some of you might like the idea of signing Urlacher and drafting a middle linebacker as his heir apparent. Whether or not Urlacher would like that idea is another question. And in the end, it's really hard to imagine Spielman liking that idea. Stranger things have happened, but this one would be pretty strange.