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Zimmer doesn’t dismiss possibility Reiff could move to guard; job security for Spielman



Could the Vikings move Riley Reiff to guard next season?

The Star Tribune reported last month that the team would consider shifting the left tackle to that spot, and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer did not dismiss that such a move might take place during the NFL coaches breakfast at the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday in Phoenix.

Courtney Cronin, covering the meetings for ESPN, asked Zimmer about the possibility of 2018 second-round pick Brian O’Neill moving from right to left tackle. That means Reiff could end up at guard. The Vikings are looking to replace left guard Nick Easton, who signed with New Orleans after missing all of last season because of a neck injury. Easton’s replacement, Tom Compton, signed with the New York Jets as a free agent this month.

The Vikings also could take an offensive lineman with the 18th-overall pick to play left tackle and move Reiff inside. Reiff, 30, will be entering the third season of a five-year, $58.75 million contract he signed with Minnesota in 2017. He will make a base salary of $9.4 million in 2019 with a salary-cap hit of $11.7 million.

Reiff was slowed last season because of a foot injury and was part of an offensive line that the Vikings are looking to upgrade after missing the playoffs in 2018. Reiff, who has started 93 games at left tackle since he was drafted in the first round in 2012 by the Detroit Lions, gave up 42 pressures on quarterback Kirk Cousins last season, according to Pro Football Focus. That was the eighth most among all NFL tackles.

The Vikings are hoping they found their starting right guard — and replacement for the recently released Mike Remmers — when they signed veteran Josh Kline to a reported three-year, $15.75 million contract last week. Kline, 29, spent the past three seasons with Tennessee.

SECURITY FOR SPIELMAN

Zimmer isn’t the only key member of the Vikings who had an option picked up that extended his contract through 2020. Chad Graff of The Athletic reported that Vikings owner Mark Wilf essentially confirmed Rick Spielman, the Vikings general manager, also is now under contract through 2020.

MAKING KIRK COMFORTABLE

It’s become clear that after signing  Cousins to a three-year, $84 million free-agent contract last March, the Vikings thought the quarterback would step into a new offense and lead the team back to the playoffs.

Playing under new coordinator John DeFilippo, Cousins passed for 4,298 yards and 30 touchdowns as he hit on a career-best 70.1 percent of his passes. But Cousins also had 10 interceptions, was sacked 40 times and lost seven of nine fumbles as the Vikings went 8-7-1 and missed the postseason by losing to Chicago on the final day of the regular season.

Zimmer wasn’t pleased with what he considered to be a pass-heavy offense and DeFilippo was fired with three games left in the season. Kevin Stefanski was promoted from quarterbacks coach to interim offensive coordinator and then had the interim tag removed after the season. But the Vikings also brought in longtime NFL coach and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to serve as assistant head coach and an offensive adviser.

Zimmer, according to Cronin, said he had a really interesting conversation with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan on Monday night about Cousins. Shanahan was Cousins’ offensive coordinator early in his time in Washington.

It’s clear the Vikings now are going to do everything possible to give Cousins a system in which he’s as comfortable as possible as he enters the second year of his contract in Minnesota.

This also means that the Vikings are likely to run the ball much more next season, with Dalvin Cook expected to play a bigger role than he did in 2018. But that doesn’t mean Zimmer is sold on the fact it always has to be a 50-50 split between the run and the pass.





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Previous Story Zimmer on Rhodes: “We’re paying him a lot of money, he needs to play up to that contract” Next Story VIDEO: Is Rick Spielman a good general manager?