Last year we had a plethora of outside linebackers. We started the season with Na'ill Diggs, James Laurinaitis, and Larry Grant. Eventually Grant was splitting time with Bryan Kehl, Chris Chamberlain, and David Vobora. When Diggs got injured everything went down hill. Fast running backs killed us all season along the edge. We will need to sign an outside linebacker in free agency to pair with a healthy Diggs, and an up and coming Laurinaitis. We have many options.
James Anderson - He exploded last year having his best season by far. He accumulated 130 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and one interception in 16 games. He is a very productive player and a tackling machine. Pairing him with Laurinaitis would be frightening. Jamaal Charles, LaRod Stephens-Howling, and other fast backs gave us a lot of trouble last year. I feel like with Anderson manning the strong side linebacker spot we will be a much better defense. Our front 7 would be absolutely terrifying.
Rocky McIntosh - McIntosh is also a very active linebacker. He is playing out of position right now with the Redskins (3-4) and is still doing a good job. Last year he threw up decent numbers : 110 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. This kid is very young and is about to enter his prime. He will be cheap and will stand out in our scheme. Our front 7 would be a strength (said it above). I will be more than happy to settle for either McIntosh or Anderson.
Ben Leber - Leber is a veteran player whos contract is up. He will be available because the Vikings have to sign Chad Greenway leaving Leber without a team. His numbers weren't terrific last year though he is still productive. He had 46 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 interception. He too would fit in well with our scheme. I'd prefer to choose a different path just for the sole reason of already having Nai'll Diggs who's a veteran. I prefer youth over another veteran player at this position.
Mark Herzlich - We've all heard the Herzlich story. He was diagnosed with cancer, which he beat to get back out on the field. Truly a miraculous story. Before the unfortunate disease, he was projected as a top 15 pick. This kid went undrafted and will be a huge steal to wherever he goes. His best season was the season before he got cancer with 110 tackles. 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 6 interceptions. His work ethic is impeccable. His character is unbelievable. This is the type of player every team wants in their locker room. Herzlich will be dirt cheap as well.
In the end, we have many options. We absolutely have to upgrade this position immediately. It will go a long way towards us making the playoffs. Our defense is rising and nothing in my opinion would help it more than a talented outside linebacker.