Wanted: Vikings offensive and defensive coordinators, and cap space

The Vikings are heading into an off season that will include change to players too

WCCO Radio Newsroom
January 13, 2020 - 10:04 am
Mike Zimmer

Jeffery Becker / USA Today sports

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Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who has one year left on his contract, isn't revealing any timetable for filling two key coaching staff posititions that have opened up since the team was knocked out of the NFL playoffs.

He's also not saying anything about his own status with the team he's led for five seasons.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who's been an assistant coach with the Vikings since 2006, is now head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

George Edwards, who came on board with Zimmer in 2014 as defensive coordinator, is not having his contract renewed.

RELATED: End of the line for 2019 Vikings

"Right now, it's a little early," said Zimmer in his season-ending media availability Monday morning at Vikings team headquarters in Eagan.

"I haven't made any determinations yet," he said, when asked about promoting from within or hiring from the outside.

When it all comes together is anyone's guess.

"It may be by the end of the week, it may be in a couple weeks," Zimmer said. "Those guys over there (his current assistants), they do an outstanding job. I love the way that they work together and communicate. If we do bring in somebody from the outside I want to make sure it's the correct fit."

Zimmer said he was happy for Stefanski that he had the opportunity to become an NFL head coach.

A year ago, Stefanski was runner-up for the Browns job that went to Freddie Kitchens, who lasted just the one season in Cleveland.

Zimmer didn't reveal much about his conversations with Edwards.

"It was kind of a situation where it was probably best," Zimmer said.

Zimmer said it will be several days before they start evaluating the players after a season where the team finished 10-6 and qualified for the playoffs as a wild card team.

"We'll have to make some tough decisions in a lot of areas," he said.

As for his contract status...

"I believe that there will be conversations here in the near future," Zimmer said. "Whatever happens, I'm happy with it."

On to the players. The Vikings have the worst salary cap situation in the league.  In fact, they are already $5 million over the cap, which ranks dead last.  Jacksonville is second worst at just over $1 million over the cap, the only two teams with no room.  That's not good.  

There are a few names to keep you eye on prior to the June 1st deadline for contract decisions. 

Linval Joseph- Joseph has been a defensive cornerstone, but now at 31 years old, and with a cap hit of over $10 million, this could be the end of the line for his time in purply.  The Vikings need to save dollars and this might be where they start. 

Everson Griffen- He had another good year.  He was fantastic in New Orleans.  He's also 32 years old, and has a cap hit of $13 million (with very little dead money if they cut him).  Griffen has stated he "would like to be a Viking for life".  He may need to take a haircut on his contract to stay.  

Riley Reiff- The Vikings are still in desparate need of improved offensive line play (see Saturday in San Francisco).  Reiff has struggled, and comes with a big number at $8.8 million.  They probably can't afford to cut him however.  They will likely try to figure out a better option at the crucial blindside tackle spot, and move Reiff to a less important position.    

Xavier Rhodes- Tough one here.  Rhodes was terrific through 2018.  He struggled in 2019.  Too many big plays, way too many penalties for Rhodes.  This might be a place the Vikings try to make a trade.  There's a lot of dead money if they try to cut ties with him however.   

Anthony Harris- Here's one player the Vikings would want to keep.  Harris tied for the league lead in interceptions, and was a perfect counterpart for All-Pro Harrison Smith at the safety spot. As an unrestricted free agent, Harris will be in demand.  The Vikings, with so little cap space, could get priced out early on Harris.  

Other player decisions GM Rick Spielman and Zimmer have to address are Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook.  Both are starting the last year of their contracts.  Are the Vikings confident enough in Cousins to make the financial committment to him?  Right now, it's $31 million guaranteed.  That number would have to change.  

Cook is wrapping up his rookie contract, and as one of the most explosive and important players on this team, is in line for a new deal.  But injuries have derailed every season of Cook's career so far.  Will he be healthy enough to earn big dollars?  Running backs don't get the big money contracts they used to, and a big part of that is durability.  It'll be interesting to see how much the Vikings value Cook.  

There will also need to be cap space for drafted players.  The Vikings pick 25th in the first round.  Between now and April 23rd in Las Vegas, the Vikings will need to make a number of decisions on how the team will look in 2020. 

Be ready for some major changes.  

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