Vikings should have deep group of linebackers in 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- The addition of linebackers Emmanuel Lamur and Travis Lewis in free agency means the Minnesota Vikings should boast one of the deeper groups at linebacker -- in addition to one of the more athletic special-teams units -- they've had in years. And for Lamur, in particular, the decision to come to the Vikings was simple.

"The reason why I came here was because of [Mike] Zimmer. Simple as that," Lamur said in a conference call on Thursday. "He's a good coach; he brings the best out of players, and I wanted to play for him. ... As soon as I met Coach, it happened right away. He's smart. He's intelligent. You can see that right away. He's very aggressive as a coach, and that's a coach you want to play for."

Lamur, who played for Zimmer in 2012 with the Cincinnati Bengals before missing 2013 with a shoulder injury, had primarily worked at strongside linebacker for the Bengals, but spent some time at both spots. At 6-foot-4, the former safety projects as a backup for Anthony Barr, with the speed to make some plays in the open field.

Lewis, also, was a strongside linebacker in Detroit, and worked his way into the starting lineup for four games before losing his job in the Lions' defense and playing special teams in the second half of 2015. Special teams could be where he makes his impact on the Vikings' roster, as well; he made 18 special-teams tackles during four seasons with the Lions.

The additions give the Vikings seven linebackers under the age of 28 who played at least seven games last season. For now, at least, the status of the group's senior member remains unresolved, though linebacker Chad Greenway continues to talk with the Vikings about a contract for 2016. Those talks have been productive, Greenway said Thursday, and they come as the Vikings focus on their top priority -- improving the offensive line.

Greenway has said he wants to return for an 11th (and probably final) season in Minnesota, and Zimmer said last month he expects the 33-year-old will be back. The Vikings' additions at linebacker don't necessarily seem like they'd preclude Greenway returning to his spot as a weak-side linebacker, and the veteran said he doesn't take them personally. "They're trying to win championships," he said. "That's what every organization should do."

As open as the Vikings and Greenway have been with each other about their desire to continue working together, it's probably not beyond the pale for the two sides to go a few days into the league year without an agreement. A return for Greenway has to come under the right circumstances, but it still seems likely the Vikings will have one of their key leaders back next year.