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Leber wonders if he'll return to Vikings after lockout ends

Ben Leber, one of the 10 plaintiffs in the Brady et al v. National Football League et al case, said last week that he believes the lockout will end in time so as not to disrupt the regular-season schedule.

The question for Leber now is, will the unrestricted free-agent linebacker return to the Minnesota Vikings for a sixth season? The 10-year veteran told *The Star Tribune* on Monday he isn't so sure despite he and his wife's desire to remain in the Twin Cities.

"The reality is if they were really, really wanting me back, then maybe something would have been said before the lockout," said Leber, who frequently has been involved in talks between the players and owners during the lockout. "I had a good meeting with Coach (Leslie) Frazier and (vice president of player personnel Rick) Spielman at the end of the year. Each side expressed how much I'd like to be here and finish my career here. I am hopeful and hope that I can come back and be a Viking again. But I'm also a realist, and I've been through this process before. It's not always up to you, and you have to be willing to move on."

Leber, who's considered a leader on the Vikings' defense, has started for the past five seasons since signing with Minnesota after playing his first four seasons for the San Diego Chargers. Whenever the lockout ends, the free-agent period is expected to be brief and frenzied.

"I get a little anxiety about it," said Leber, who held his annual football camp at St. Thomas University in St. Paul last week. "I do wonder how it's all going to play out, and I'm a little worried about how crazy it's going to be. Thinking about it from a family perspective. Having a newborn at home (a 3-month old son) and how is that going to play out? Am I going to be gone traveling maybe team to team looking for a potential place to play?

"Is it going to be one of those things where you sign on the dotted line and you go to training camp the next day and be gone for another month? All those things my wife and I have talked about, and at the end of the conversation, we're just like, 'Well, we don't know. We can't sit here and waste time speculating.' So I guess whatever happens, happens and we'll roll with it when we get there."

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