Mike Zimmer is getting his defense set for the upcoming season. The Minnesota Vikings are set to sign former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Emmanuel Lamur. The deal, which brings another of Zimmer’s former players, will help strengthen the Vikings’ linebacker depth. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the deal will be a two-year contract worth $6 million. There is $2.5 million in guaranteed money.
The Bengals, with Zimmer working as their defensive coordinator, signed Lamur as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He played in 39 games for the Bengals, starting 15 of them. He has recorded 150 career tackles.
The Vikings lost out on one of their free-agent targets when safety George Iloka re-signed with Cincinnati on a five-year, $30 million deal. After Iloka was off the board, they apparently chose Griffin over Bengals free-agent safety Reggie Nelson, who will be 33-years-old next season.
Lamur was grateful for the chance to be playing under Zimmer again.
“I’m very thankful. I’m blessed. I’m very excited. Zim is a great coach. I’m definitely going out there to compete. I just want to make a big impact.”
Per ESPN, Lamur will be the fourth former Bengals player to find a home in Minnesota. Since Zimmer became head coach in 2014, Chris Crocker, Taylor Mays, and cornerback Terence Newman have all found positions with the Vikings.
The Vikings also reportedly agreed to a deal with former Detroit Lions linebacker Travis Lewis on Wednesday. Both players should boost an already-solid group of special team units, in addition to giving the Vikings options behind their starting linebackers.
Lamur played the strong-side linebacker position in the Bengals’ defense, and should slide into a similar role with the Vikings, where he can provide depth behind Anthony Barr.
With the acquisition of Lamur, the Vikings get a versatile player. Lamur is a former college safety and he moves like it. He’s comfortable in space, in coverage, and runs very well. His added length, at six-foot-four, only makes him more valuable. He started a handful of games as outside linebacker, but he held one of the nickel roles for most of the last three seasons.
Lamur didn’t have a great season in 2015, playing more on special teams than as a linebacker. In 2015, Lamur played in all 16 games, starting in two games during Vontaze Burfict’s microfracture surgery recovery early in the season. He totaled 40 tackles, o.5 sacks, three passes defensed, and one forced fumble.
Lamur joined the Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas State in 2012 and played three seasons. In his three seasons on the field, Lamur has accumulated 90 tackles, 11 passes defensed and two interceptions. Those aren’t great numbers given he’s played in 39 games. Lamur missed the entire 2013 season with a shoulder injury suffered during the preseason.
One concern for Zimmer and the Vikings will be Lamur’s health. He ended 2015 with a knee injury and also missed time in 2014 with a hamstring issue. In order to play consistently in the box, Lamur will have to find a way to overcome the slew of injuries that have plagued his career. Avoiding injuries will be a key factor, as Zimmer builds another playoff contending defense.
The Vikings appear to have their nickel defense set with Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks as the linebackers, but general manager Rick Spielman and Zimmer both expressed their desire to create competition. For that reason, Lamur will likely be given the chance to compete for one of the linebacker spots in the nickel defense this offseason.
The Vikings are looking for a player as a possible replacement for long-time Viking Chad Greenway, either this season or in the future. It is very possible that they view Lamur as a player who could do just that.
[Photo by David J. Phillip/AP]