Nov 4, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman looks on prior to the game against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
While many expect Mike Zimmer will be dismissed as Vikings coach at the end of the season, it’s more uncertain what will happen to general manager Rick Spielman. Zimmer and Spielman are under contract through 2023, meaning owners Zygi and Mark Wilf would have to pay both to not work for two years, if they want them gone. That could be offset if either gets a new job. Spielman has been with the Vikings since 2006 and served as general manager since 2012. Spielman worked with coaches Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier and he hired Zimmer. The question is would the Wilfs let Spielman hire the next coach, or would they want a new GM to handle that job? Spielman’s longtime assistant with the Vikings, George Paton, was believed to be the team’s GM in waiting but the Broncos hired him as their general manager in January.
The Vikings will have a decision to make on Pro Bowl defensive end Danielle Hunter, whose season came to an end Sunday against Dallas when he suffered a torn pectoral muscle. Hunter’s restructured contract calls for him to receive $18 million on the fifth day of the 2022 league year. (The league year begins at 3 p.m. on March 16.) That will make Hunter’s salary-cap hit $26.12 million for 2022, assuming he is still on the roster. Hunter remains a dominant player when he’s on the field — his six sacks in seven games is tied for 10th in the NFL — but he missed the entire 2020 season because of a herniated disc that required surgery and now will miss the final 10 games of this season. Still, you would have to think the Vikings will keep the 27-year-old Hunter.
Combine Hunter and quarterback Kirk Cousins’ salary-cap hits for 2022 and it adds up to $71.12 million against a cap that will have a ceiling of $208.2 million per team. That is nearly $30 million more than $182.5 million cap for 2021 that resulted from fans not being able to attend games last year because of the pandemic.
While some thought the Vikings might make a move before the NFL trade deadline on Tuesday afternoon that did not happen. It’s likely the team got some calls on veteran safety Xavier Woods, who had a good game against his former team on Sunday, and is playing on a one-year, $1 million (base salary) contract. Woods only counts $1.735 million against the cap.
The Vikings have misjudged at least two injury situations this season. Linebacker Anthony Barr, who missed the first four games because of a knee injury, could have been placed on injured reserve but the team thought he wouldn’t miss three games (the minimum time a player has to be on IR). Nose tackle Michael Pierce (elbow) has missed the past three games and also could have been placed on IR to free up a roster spot. The Vikings did put cornerback Patrick Peterson (hamstring) on IR, meaning he can’t return until the Nov. 21 game against Green Bay.
Former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has found work. The 36-year-old was signed to the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad on Monday after the team lost standout running back Derrick Henry, potentially for the rest of the season, because of a foot injury. Peterson is expected to be elevated to the Titans’ active roster. He rushed for 604 yards and seven touchdowns last season with the Lions. Peterson is fifth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 14,820 yards, trailing Barry Sanders (15,269), Frank Gore (16,000), Walter Payton (16,726) and Emmitt Smith (18,355).
Gophers guard Conner Olson, a sixth-year senior, has started a school record 53 games, giving him more games played than any Vikings lineman other than right tackle Brian O’Neill. O’Neill, a second-round pick of the Vikings in 2018, has played in 53 games and made 49 starts. The remainder of the Vikings line includes left tackle Christian Darrisaw (4 games, 2 starts); left guard Ezra Cleveland (20-16); center Garrett Bradbury (39-39); and right guard Oli Udoh (14-7).
Defensive end Stephen Weatherly, whom the Vikings traded to Denver during the bye week, played 27 of 70 snaps and had a sack and two tackles in a 17-10 victory over Washington on Sunday. Weatherly wasn’t happy about his lack of playing time after rejoining the Vikings during the offseason, but the team could use him back now that Hunter is sidelined for the season. Weatherly played only 28 total defensive snaps in his final three games with the Vikings.
Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth and sideline reporter Shannon Spake will have the call of the Vikings-Ravens game on FOX this Sunday from Baltimore.
Wide receiver JD Spielman, the son of the Vikings GM and a former star at Eden Prairie High School, has decided to stop playing football because of lingering injury issues. Spielman played in four games for TCU this season and had eight receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He originally attended Nebraska but transferred to TCU for the 2020 season. Spielman played in only three games last year.
One reason Spielman picked TCU was because of his relationship with former Gophers coach Jerry Kill, who was serving as a special assistant to Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson. Kill, who recruited Spielman for the Gophers but left the Minnesota job in 2015 because of health issues, will serve as TCU’s interim coach after Patterson was fired over the weekend. Patterson was asked to stay on for the rest of the season but declined and TCU turned to his good friend, Kill. TCU has lost five of its past six games and is 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big 12.
Zach Parise, who will return to Xcel Energy Center on Sunday when the Islanders face the Wild, has no points and 12 shots in seven games. The 37-year-old has been dealing with back stiffness of late. The Wild will play the first of four games against former Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter and the Dallas Stars on Nov. 18. That game will be in St. Paul.