Mike Zimmer (Coach)

NFC Notes: Kaepernick, Lions, Megatron

A group will gather outside of the NFL’s headquarters on Wednesday to show support for former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, as ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein writes.

He stood up for us. It’s only right that he took our issues in our communities and brought it to a national level and sacrificed salary and being ostracized by the NFL,” nonprofit chair Kevin Livingston said. “It was only right that we stand up for him. I started this, literally, when he came to my office — I was moved. I work with parolees. People usually want to ostracize this particular population. Me working with him on the front lines and him coming to my office, this is not the first time I’ve worked with him. “So I thought it was only right that I stand up for him.”

In addition to the demonstration in Manhattan, there will also be pro-Kaepernick gatherings in Brooklyn, Harlem, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Orlando, Florida, Chicago, Houston, Washington, D.C., Miami, Detroit, and other locations. The Seahawks are known to have some interest in Kaepernick, but the QB still remains without work.

Here’s more from the NFC:

NFC Rumors: Megatron, Vikings, Redskins

Calvin Johnson said again Saturday he is not coming back to football, and the potential Hall of Fame wide receiver didn’t like the way his relationship with the Lions concluded when he retired in March 2016.

I just didn’t feel like I was treated the way I should have been treated on the way out. That’s all,” Johnson said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I mean, it’s all good. I’m not tripping. I don’t feel any kind of way, just hey, that’s what they did. Hey, it is what is.”

Johnson declined to go into specifics regarding this. Birkett points out the Lions attempted to recoup some of Megatron’s signing bonus, reporting Johnson paid $320K — one-tenth of the $3.2MM the Lions could have collected under the CBA — when he retired. The parties agreed to a reduced payment last year, Birkett notes. This retirement unfolded smoother than Barry Sanders‘ did in 1999. The Lions filed a grievance against the Hall of Fame running back, and he paid the team back in installments.

Johnson also alluded to a conversation he had with the team regarding the reason he was retiring. Last year, the receiver did say it would have been harder to follow through with the early-retirement plan if the Lions were in a better position to compete. But he maintained this NFL exit centered around his health.

They told me they wouldn’t trade me if I came back and stuff like that, but it wasn’t about that,” Johnson said, via Birkett. “It was about how I felt.”

Here’s the latest from the NFC.

  • Mike Zimmer underwent an eighth right eye operation this week, Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. All of these procedures have occurred since November of last year. The fourth-year Vikings coach said he’s unsure if this will be the last one. Zimmer missed Week 13 of last season due to eye troubles and acknowledges he will experience vision problems in his left eye at some point.
  • Zimmer said the franchise carefully took Michael Floyd‘s off-the-field history into account before signing him. “We always try to weigh every situation, but you know he’s from here. I think he has a good support system with Harrison Smith and Kyle Rudolph partly,’’ Zimmer said (via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) of two former Floyd Notre Dame teammates. “So a lot of those things were factored in and entered into it.” A Floyd arrest for a super extreme DUI led to the Cardinals releasing him last season.
  • The Redskins don’t plan to move one of their outside linebackers to defensive end before training camp. The team drafted Ryan Anderson to join a stable of outside ‘backers that includes Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith and Junior Galette. But none will be tried at 3-4 end, John Keim of ESPN.com reports. Washington may have a crowd here, but it’s not full of reliable players. Murphy will serve a four-game suspension, and Galette hasn’t played since 2014. Free agents Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain preceded Jonathan Allen‘s arrival in what will be a new-look defensive end corps. Washington lost Chris Baker and cut Ricky Jean-Francois this offseason.

NFC Notes: Redskins, Panthers, Cowboys

Although free agency opens in less than a week, the Redskins still haven’t attempted to negotiate a new deal with Pierre Garcon, the soon-to-be available wide receiver said Thursday (via Peter Halley of CSN Mid-Atlantic). “I haven’t heard anything from the Redskins,” Garcon said on former Colts punter Pat McAfee’s podcast“I have not heard anything at all. But everybody does strategic moves right before free agency, or right during free agency, so I couldn’t tell you what they’re up to.” As arguably a top 25 free agent in the 2017 class, the 30-year-old Garcon could garner $9MM-plus per annum on his next contract.

More from the NFC:

  • It’s “fair” to say the Panthers will draft a running back this year, general manager Dave Gettleman told David Newton of ESPN.com. That’s not surprising given that starting running back Jonathan Stewart will play his age-30 season and face a contract year in 2017. Gettleman is bullish on this year’s selection of backs, which LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey headline. “It’s a deep running back group, we know that,’’ he said. “It’ll be interesting to see how the whole process plays out because we’re really just halfway through it.’’
  • The Cowboys plan to shop running back Alfred Morris, but they’re going to have difficulty finding a taker because of his contract, opines Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Although Morris is due an affordable base salary of $1.2MM in 2017, his deal also includes $500K in per-game roster bonuses.
  • On the heels of a season in which the Vikings’ offense placed 23rd in scoring, 26th in DVOA and 28th in yardage, defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer has taken a more hands-on approach with the unit, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com details. Zimmer has twice watched every offensive play the Vikings ran in 2016 and sat in on meetings with coordinator Pat Shurmur and his staff over the past couple months. Observed Zimmer: “I’m watching tape [of last season]. And we run a complementary play off another play, but we don’t run that other play. So [the defense] is saying, any time they do this, they’re going to run that. So this is about trying to get the players in the right position to do more.”
  • After playing through foot problems last season, all-world Falcons receiver Julio Jones will undergo surgery Monday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Marc Sessler of NFL.com). Fortunately for Jones and the Falcons, the procedure will be minor and won’t affect his training camp availability.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Eagles, Vikings

In their drawn-out quest to find a general manager, the 49ers are down to two finalists – Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Cardinals Terry McDonough – but “it’s not a lock” either will end up with the job, a source close to the team told Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. While there’s a “good chance” one of them will land the role, per the source, the previously reported Mark Dominik “could become involved” if the Niners go in another direction, writes Maiocco.

More from a couple other NFC cities:

  • The Eagles are poised to clear “significant” cap space, which could end center Jason Kelce‘s six-year tenure in Philadelphia. When asked about Kelce on Wednesday, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman didn’t shoot down any rumors regarding the 29-year-old. “We’re talking about a guy who just made the Pro Bowl. Those are good situations for the Philadelphia Eagles to have Pro Bowl players,” Roseman told Zach Berman of Philly.com. “But it’s hard to go into each player, and I’m not saying as it relates to Kelce, but if I start answering the question to Jason Kelce, that opens the door to five or six other guys.” By cutting Kelce, the Eagles would open up $3.8MM in cap space for 2017.
  • Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer missed the team’s Week 13 loss to the Cowboys after undergoing emergency surgery on his right eye. Over a month later, Zimmer still can’t see out of that eye and will undergo another procedure in April, tweets Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. “Hopefully that will fix it,” said Zimmer.
  • One of Zimmer’s players, wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, is open to leaving the Vikings as a free agent if they don’t promise him an increased offensive role. “I need to know if I’m going to play or not. If not, I’ll take my talents elsewhere,” Patterson told Conor Orr of NFL.com. Patterson’s relevance in the Vikings’ offense increased significantly after coordinator Pat Shurmur took over for Norv Turner at the outset of November. Shurmur guaranteed Patterson more targets after grabbing the reins, and the 25-year-old then racked up 46 in the final nine games of the season. He had only 24 in Turner’s seven games atop the offense. All told, the first-team All-Pro return man amassed a career-high 52 catches, though he only averaged 8.7 yards per reception. On whether he’d return to Minnesota for a fifth season in 2017, Patterson said, “If they want me back, they’ll (make a deal) and get me back.”
  • The Eagles and player personnel executive Rick Mueller are parting ways, sources told Jeff McLane of Philly.com. Mueller was in his second stint with the Eagles, who fired him during the Chip Kelly era and brought him back when it ended.

Mike Zimmer To Resume Coaching Vikings

Mike Zimmer has returned to his coaching duties and is expected to travel with the team to Jacksonville for this weekend’s game, the Vikings announced. Zimmer will address the media later on today. Mike Zimmer (vertical)

It’s not immediately clear how Zimmer will be traveling to Jacksonville because it could be hazardous to fly after his most recent eye surgery. If he cannot board a plane, the Vikings have a plan in place to drive Zimmer in Florida, according to reports from last week.

Last week, Zimmer was forced to stay home while the Vikings faced the Cowboys. As he listened on the radio to help rest his eyes, Minnesota fell 17-15 under the guidance of special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. If Zimmer was forced to missed this upcoming game, Priefer presumably would have been in the interim role once again.

After the Dallas loss, the Vikings are 6-6 and second place in the NFC North. They’ll need to turn it on the final month to have a chance of catching the 8-4 Lions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings’ Mike Zimmer Could Return Next Week

Although Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer underwent a fourth eye operation on Friday, he could still return to coach his club in Week 14, a source tells Ben Goessling of ESPN.com. Zimmer was forced to miss Minnesota’s Thursday night contest against the Cowboys after having emergency eye surgery on Wednesday night.Mike Zimmer (vertical)

[RELATED: Adrian Peterson To Miss Rest Of Season?]

The Vikings are set to play the Jaguars on December 11, and while Zimmer’s most recent procedure could prevent him from flying to Jacksonville, he would likely be able to drive to Florida to attend the game. However, Goessling reports that Zimmer could return to the club before that contest. In fact, Zimmer is scheduled to speak to the media on Wednesday, so it would appear that Minnesota is aiming for business as usual.

If plans change, the Vikings would once again turn to special teams coach Mike Priefer to lead the team. Priefer did so against the Cowboys, presumably so coordinators Pat Shurmur and George Edwards could focus on their play-calling roles. According to Goessling, Priefer said he would be honored to step in for Zimmer once again, but said he hopes he’s “not needed in that capacity.”

The NFC North rival Lions and Packers both secured victories today, and now stand with records of 8-4 and 6-6, respectively. The Vikings are also 6-6 after Thursday’s loss to Dallas, and need to finish the season strong to have a chance at a postseason berth. After the Jaguars game, the Vikings will face the Colts, Packers, and Bears to close out the 2016 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings HC Mike Zimmer To Miss TNF

The Vikings announced that head coach Mike Zimmer is undergoing emergency eye surgery and will be forced to miss Thursday night’s game against the Cowboys. General manager Rick Spielman announced that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will be in the driver’s seat while Zimmer is out. It’s not immediately clear whether Zimmer could miss multiple games.Mike Zimmer (vertical)

[RELATED: Adrian Peterson Ahead Of Schedule?]

We are taking it one day at a time. We want to get through tonight’s game and then tomorrow we will reassess where we’re at,” Spielman said.

This is at least the third eye operation for Zimmer, as Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. Zimmer previously had eye surgery in early November after tearing his retina during a game, as Dave Campbell of the Associated Press detailed at the time. Zimmer was able to coach the Vikings’ subsequent game, but did note that he had not sought immediate treatment, he may have been at risk for blindness.

The decision to go with Priefer is interesting, considering that the Vikings already have two former head coaches on staff. Offensive line coach Tony Sparano was previously the head coach of both the Dolphins and Raiders, while offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur once led the Browns. Former offensive coordinator Norv Turner also had head coaching experience, but he resigned earlier this month.

PFR extends its best wishes to Coach Zimmer and hopes for a safe, quick, and thorough recovery.

This post was modified from an earlier version published on Wednesday.

Vikings HC Mike Zimmer May Miss TNF

The Vikings announced that head coach Mike Zimmer is undergoing emergency eye surgery and could be forced to miss tomorrow night’s game against the Cowboys. General manager Rick Spielman stated that he has met with the club’s coaches and players, and Minnesota has a “contingency plan in place” in case Zimmer is unable to coach.Mike Zimmer (vertical)

[RELATED: Adrian Peterson Ahead Of Schedule?]

This is at least the third eye operation for Zimmer, as Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. Zimmer previously had eye surgery in early November after tearing his retina during a game, as Dave Campbell of the Associated Press detailed at the time. Zimmer was able to coach the Vikings’ subsequent game, but did note that he had not sought immediate treatment, he may have been at risk for blindness.

As noted, the Vikings have plan in place in the event that Zimmer is sidelined, and the club does have two former head coaches on staff. Offensive line coach Tony Sparano was previously the head coach of both the Dolphins and Raiders, while offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur once led the Browns. Former offensive coordinator Norv Turner also had head coaching experience, but he resigned earlier this month.

PFR extends its best wishes to Coach Zimmer and hopes for a safe, quick, and thorough recovery.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Sign Mike Zimmer To Extension

The Vikings and coach Mike Zimmer have reached agreement on a contract extension, GM Rick Spielman announced. Spielman did not disclose the length or terms of the deal, saying only that Zimmer will be the Vikings’ coach “for a long time.” Spielman said that talks started right after the playoffs, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweetsMike Zimmer (vertical)

Mike has instilled a very positive atmosphere over the past three years and our players have thrived under his tutelage and leadership,” team owner Zygi Wilf said in a press release. “His focus on helping our players develop and maximize potential, individually and collectively, is critical for our current and future success. We believe the continuity established with Mike leading our football team is a very positive step for our organization.”

Zimmer led the Vikings to an 11-5 record last season and the club’s first NFC North title since 2009. Zimmer holds an 18-14 record in his two seasons as a head coach, the second-most wins by a Viking head coach in his first two seasons, trailing only the late Dennis Green who had 20 wins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Saints, 49ers, Packers, Hill

As we head into Saturday night, here’s the latest from around the NFC.

  • Panthers wideout Stephen Hill‘s bad week worsened Saturday in the form of a right leg injury that resulted in him being carted off the field, according to Steve Reed of the Associated Press. This comes a few days after his marijuana-related citation. Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweeted Hill’s status “doesn’t look good.” He has to be considered a longshot to play in North Carolina this season, considering what’s happened this week and the players residing ahead of the former second-round pick on the Panthers’ depth chart.
  • A starter at right tackle in Minnesota’s final five games last season, Mike Harris will receive the first crack at earning the Vikings‘ starting right guard job, coach Mike Zimmer confirmed to media (via Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune). Rookie T.J. Clemmings also figures to factor in there, but Harris has started 17 games since arriving in the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2012.
  • Adrian Peterson‘s game-action drought will likely continue until the Vikings take the field for the regular season, Ben Goessling of ESPN.com reports. Although this means the running back’s time without having suited up for a game will last more than a year, with the Vikings’ opener coming Sept. 14, Peterson hasn’t carried the ball in a preseason game since 2011.
  • Saints coach Sean Payton was not surprised by the suspension given to tight end Orson Charles‘ one-game suspension for a road-rage incident, telling media (including NOLA.com’s Evan Woodberry), “We were on top of all of that. None of that was a surprise, “Payton said. “He’s been very forthright in communicating. He’s been very open with the league and with ourselves.” Charles has started six games in three seasons, each coming with the Bengals as a rookie in 2012.
  • As part of his reworked contract, fifth-year 49er Aldon Smith collected a $300K roster bonus Saturday. The perpetually afoul-with-the-league linebacker’s earned $800K in bonuses since April 1, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • Sean Richardson‘s eventful offseason continued Saturday, with the safety receiving a $200K bonus for being on the roster on the third day of Packers training camp, per ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky (via Twitter). The Packers matched the Raiders’ $2.55MM contract offer and kept Richardson in Green Bay for another season.