The Vikings have submitted requests to talk to eight candidates for their vacant general manager’s job, but that doesn’t mean the process of finding Rick Spielman’s replacement is suddenly going to speed up.
The first round of interviews, which will be done video conferencing, won’t start until Sunday when Minnesota native and Tennessee Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort talks to Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler was the first to report the news on Friday.
Cleveland vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will interview on Monday, according to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin, and Kansas City executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles will be interviewed on Tuesday, according to SKOR North’s Darren “Doogie” Wolfson.
That will begin a process of interviews that is expected to include Brandon Brown, Eagles’ director of player personnel; Glenn Cook, Browns’ vice president of player personnel; Catherine Raiche, Eagles’ vice president of football operations; John Spytek, Buccaneers’ vice president of player personnel; and Eliot Wolf, a scouting consultant for the Patriots.
Ossenfort, 43, interviewed for the New York Giants’ GM job on Friday. Ossenfort grew up in Luverne and was the starting quarterback for Division III Minnesota-Morris for two seasons. He graduated in 2000 and was a training camp intern for the Vikings in 2001.
The Bears also are looking for a general manager and have started the interview process. They spoke to Adofo-Mensah on Thursday.
This will be the first time since the Wilfs bought the Vikings in 2005 that they have conducted a GM search. Spielman was hired as vice president of player personnel in 2006 and promoted to general manager in 2012. Brad Childress, the first coach hired by the Wilfs in 2006, had control of the 53-man roster and was the de facto GM during his tenure.
- Veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson completed his first season with the Vikings after signing a one-year, $8 million free agent contract in March. Peterson, who spent the first 10 years of his career with Arizona, managed to keep his streak of having at least one interception in each season alive when he picked off Bears quarterback Andy Dalton and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown in the Vikings’ regular-season finale. Peterson, 31, said he’s open to returning, although it’s unclear if the new GM or coach Mike Zimmer’s replacement will be open to that. “I wouldn’t mind,” coming back, Peterson said on his “All Things Covered” podcast. “Ultimately it’s going to come down to getting a new head coach. For the most part, a new head coach comes in and kind of tears up the whole thing. But my thing is why would you want to tear up this team? It’s probably the most talented team that has a coaching vacancy.”
- Peterson said he would like to play four to five more seasons but this much is certain: If he wants to go into broadcasting after his playing career, he will end up working as an analyst for one of the networks.
- The Vikings are trying to keep their search process under wraps, but it’s interesting that possible head coaching candidates continue to emerge. Mark Wilf said at his press conference last Monday that the new GM would play a role in the hiring of the coach but never said that person will have full authority. So will the Wilf’s provide a list of coaching candidates that they like and is that list close to complete? Two names that have come up are Lane Kiffin of Ole Miss and Matt Campbell of Iowa State. These names could be floating around as nothing more than #recklessspeculation, but it’s interesting both are young coaches with backgrounds in the offensive side of the game.
- Jack LaFontaine, who was signed away from the Gophers by the goalie-desperate Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, made his NHL debut Thursday night. He stopped one of three shots after replacing veteran starter Frederik Andersen in the third period of a 6-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. LaFontaine’s departure in the middle of the season is unusual in college hockey but the Hurricanes were down to only two healthy goalies throughout their entire organization. LaFontaine will make $750,000 at the NHL level on his one-year, entry level contract and he also received a signing bonus of $88,500. His salary will drop to $70,000 at the AHL level.
- The issue for the Gophers is that LaFontaine was their goalie. There was no rotation. Junior Justen Close, who had yet to start a regular-season game, figures to be backed up by freshman Brennan Boynton. Close had played in the Gophers’ recent exhibition games against St. Thomas and the United States National Development Under-18 team. The Gophers also will lose three top players, forwards Matthew Knies and Ben Meyers and defenseman Brock Faber, to the United States Olympic team that will play in February in Beijing, China. The trio is expected to miss six games while at the Olympics. Also picked by U.S. coach David Quinn and his staff was former Gophers defenseman Aaron Ness. This was made necessary after the NHL decided not to have its players participate in the Olympics.
- Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson had an outstanding second season in the NFL, but he fell 17 yards short of breaking Randy Moss’ single-season team record of 1,632 yards (2003) and on Friday fell one vote short of being a first-team All-Pro selection. Green Bay’s Davante Adams and the Rams’ Cooper Kupp were listed on all 50 ballots from the panel assembled by the Associated Press and San Francisco’s Deebo Samuel got 21 votes. Jefferson had 20. Jefferson’s 1,616 yards were second in the NFL and his 108 catches were fourth. Of course, Jefferson and all other players had an extra game in which to increase their statistics this season.
- Former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills since 2017, is reportedly on the Miami Dolphins’ list of candidates to interview for their head coaching job. Frazier also was reportedly on the Bears’ list of coaching candidates. Frazier had a team-leading six interceptions for the 1985 Super Bowl champion Bears.
- Jim Kaat broke into the big leagues with the Washington Senators in 1959, made the move with the franchise to Minnesota in 1961 and last pitched for the Twins in 1973. After the 25-year major league pitcher recently was elected to the Hall of Fame, the Twins announced Kaat’s No. 36 will be retired in a pregame ceremony on July 16 at Target Field. The 83-year-old also was an outstanding television analyst on Twins games in the late 1980s and early ’90s. He has worked a small package of Twins’ TV games in recent years. The Twins also retired Bert Blyleven’s No. 28 after the standout pitcher and longtime TV analyst was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011. Kaat also is deserving of the Ford C. Frick Award that is presented annually to a broadcaster by the Hall of Fame.