In a move that came out of nowhere, the Minnesota Vikings have traded starting middle linebacker Gerald Hodges to the San Francisco 49ers.
In return, Minnesota gets a 2016 sixth-round draft pick and center Nick Easton.
Why trade a starting defensive player for a backup lineman and a late-round pick? According to KFAN's A.J. Mansour, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman pulled the trigger on the deal to get back a sixth-round pick that he previously traded away when acquiring backup lineman Jeremiah Sirles.
Hodges 20 tackles through four games is tied for third-most on the team, trailing only Harrison Smith (25) and Anthony Barr (26).
Pro Football Talk notes that Spielman also likes the potential of 2015 second-round pick Eric Kendricks at middle linebacker. That, coupled with depth linebacker, allowed the Vikings to make the trade and add depth on the offensive line.
Whether Easton competes for playing time with Joe Berger, who is starting at center in place of an injured John Sullivan, is unknown.