Oct 3, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) warms up prior to the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Sando of The Athletic had an interesting piece on potential deals that could be made by the NFL trade deadline on Nov. 2. A league executive had this to say about the Vikings potentially dealing veterans for draft picks, with an eye toward finding their next quarterback, if they are 3-4 after facing the Cowboys on Oct. 31. “Can they? No,” Sando was told. “Should they? Yes.” Considering Mike Zimmer is likely gone as coach if the Vikings don’t make the playoffs, this assessment is absolutely accurate. There is no way general manager Rick Spielman will trade a contributing player, even if it would help for the future.
Would the Vikings make a deal to add a veteran? That seems more likely. Miami is expected to trade cornerback Xavien Howard, who led the NFL with 10 interceptions last season, and would add a quality starter at corner. That would be especially helpful with Patrick Peterson having to miss at least three games on injured reserve because of a hamstring issue. Howard is expected to cost a third-round pick, but the biggest obstacle would be that the 28-year-old’s contract runs through 2024 and has significant salary cap hits. Sando has Green Bay as a potential landing spot for Howard. That makes sense considering the Packers seem to be going all in in what might be Aaron Rodgers’ last season with the franchise.
The Vikings’ four games out of the bye week — vs. Dallas, at Baltimore, at Chargers and vs. Green Bay — could go a long way toward determining whether the team attempts to work a contract extension with Kirk Cousins. Cousins is signed for next season, but his $45 million cap hit is third among quarterbacks behind Atlanta’s Matt Ryan ($48.7 million) and Rodgers ($46.1 million). The Vikings would need to get Cousins’ figure lowered and that would be done by giving him an extension, much like they did before the 2020 season. The key to this is the uncertainty surrounding Zimmer and even general manager Rick Spielman. If the Vikings make a coaching change, or decide to change both GM and coach, it’s likely they would let the new hires make a decision on Cousins.
After Cam Talbot’s shaky outing for three periods in the Wild’s 6-5 victory over Winnipeg on Tuesday in the team’s home opener, it’s not surprising that he will get the net on Saturday against Anaheim at Xcel Energy Center. That means Kaapo Kahkonen will start on Sunday against Nashville as the Wild plays back-to-back home games. Coach Dean Evason likely wants Talbot to forget his performance in regulation against the Jets, although he was brilliant in overtime. Every team will need two capable goalies — especially after the Olympic break in February — so getting Kahkonen into some type of routine is important.
Anyone who questioned general manager Bill Guerin’s decision to jettison guys like Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter likely isn’t doing so after watching the Wild’s first three games. The speed at which this team is now able to play not only is fun to watch but it’s also absolutely necessary to compete with top teams. The only guy who seems a stride behind now is second-line winger Victor Rask.
Still haven’t heard a thing about Koivu’s No. 9 being raised to the rafters, although he has been out of the NHL since he retired last February after six games with Columbus. The Wild should follow the Vikings’ lead and create a ring of honor in order to honor good but not great players. The Wild have yet to give out Nos. 9, 11 (Parise) and 20 (Suter) to any of their new players.
Center Marco Rossi, the Wild’s first-round pick in 2020, scored his first professional goal for Iowa of the American Hockey League in a 3-1 loss Sunday to Texas.
Ryan Donato, the former Wild winger who scored the first goal in Seattle Kraken history, already finds himself as the odd forward out in Kraken’s rotation.
The Browns’ win over the Broncos on Thursday night had an incredible amount of Vikings’ connections. Former teammates Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater were the starting quarterbacks, and Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, the Vikings’ former quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, had his offense facing Broncos OC Pat Shurmur, who held the same job with the Vikings in 2016 and ’17. That meant Shurmur was calling plays for Bridgewater against Keenum, the guy he helped get to the NFC title game in 2017. Former Vikings defensive backs coach Joe Woods, meanwhile, is now the Browns’ defensive coordinator.
The Browns are Keenum’s third team since he left Minnesota and signed with Denver for the 2018 season. Keenum, 33, spent one season with the Broncos and one with Washington. He’s in his second year as the backup to the currently injured Baker Mayfield. Keenum has made nine starts since 2019 and Thursday’s was his first with Cleveland.
It’s clear the Timberwolves are going to be Karl-Anthony Towns’ and Anthony Edwards’ team, meaning D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley are going to have to accept their roles. Russell should be fine, given he’s still a starter and will have plenty of impact, but Beasley coming off the bench will be interesting. Beasley’s defensive effort in the second half in the Wolves’ 124-106 opening night victory over Houston on Wednesday was something we never saw from him last season.
Adding veteran Patrick Beverley’s defensive intensity to the Wolves’ mix — to go along with Jaden McDaniels, Josh Okogie and Jarred Vanderbilt — should help the franchise go from being one every opponent wanted to play to being one that is a pain to face. Beverley, whose addition reminds me of what Guerin did for the Wild last season by bringing in veteran leaders Nick Bonino and Ian Cole, is likely to make sure that no one takes a night off.
The Vikings are tied with the Chicago Bears for first in the NFL with 21 sacks — Minnesota had only 23 last season — but, more impressively, the Vikings’ defense has 75 pressure and 46 hurries compared to the Bears’ 46 pressures and 14 hurries. Danielle Hunter, back after missing last season because of injury, leads the Vikings with six sacks. That’s one more than Yannick Ngakoue’s team-leading total in 2020. Ngakoue played only six games before being traded to Baltimore and yet never lost the team lead in sacks.
After tying his career high with five interceptions last season, Vikings safety Harrison Smith has yet to pick off a pass in six games. Smith had only one pick in his first six games last year before getting back-to-back interceptions in wins over Detroit and at Chicago in November. Smith has only gone one season (2016) without an interception. His 28 career picks are tied with teammate Patrick Peterson for eighth among active NFL players. Tampa Bay cornerback Richard Sherman’s 36 top the list.