Mike Zimmer (Coach)

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.

Mike Zimmer On Vikings Offseason, Peterson, Offense

The Vikings didn’t make many notable moves via free agency this offseason, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t active. The team got rid of quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder, and they also brought in wideout Mike Wallace. They welcomed ten draft picks to the organization, agreed to an extension with center John Sullivan, and restructured Adrian Peterson‘s three-year deal.

Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune sat down with head coach Mike Zimmer to discuss the team’s offseason moves and his outlook for next season. We’ve collected some of the notable quotes below…

On the team seemingly ignoring free agency and prioritizing the draft:

“When you get involved in free agency, you’re paying players an awful lot of money, No. 1. And you don’t really know. It could be the system that helped them. You don’t know their personality, their work ethic, how they are in the locker room with chemistry. You try to find these things out, but you don’t really know. At least with young players, if you do make a mistake, it’s a lot cheaper. And all the work that the scouts and everybody does, getting a chance to interview the players at the combine and see them in person moving around, I just think it’s the more proven way to go.”

On the Adrian Peterson extension:

“We just thought it was beneficial for both sides that we got this done. He’s proved that he’s an integral part of this organization and in the state of Minnesota. He also went through some hard times, as did we. It was a good gesture on both sides to get it done.”

On the “additions” of Peterson (suspension), Kyle Rudolph (injury) and Mike Wallace (trade), and how the trio will help the offense:

“The possibilities are there and those are the things that excite you, that you have some players with some talent and ability. But then we have to go out there and do it and prove it. If I was trying to defend us, there would be a number of weapons that you would have to take care of, and I think that’s always good. The more weapons that people have a hard time taking away from you, it opens up more things for you. It’s almost pick your poison.”

Vikings Notes: Peterson, Zimmer, Barr, Crichton

Barring an unexpected move, star running back Adrian Peterson will be playing for the Vikings in 2015. His wife, Ashley, told ESPN.com’s Tania Ganguli that she’s happy her husband is back with Minnesota, but that she would have preferred to move closer to her home in Oklahoma.

“I am happy that he’ll be going back,” she said. “They have supported us. I just would personally, for me, I would’ve preferred to be closer to home. That’s just a personal preference for me. The Vikings have been supportive of him and the fans have been pretty supportive, so we’re happy to be going back.”

When asked if her opinion has anything to do with how the organization treated her husband, Ashley gave a vague response:

“Well, the thing is, kind of, but you never know how that would’ve played out with anyone else. Just kind of have to go with the flow on that. I personally would’ve preferred to be closer to my family. I’m having a baby and all that.”

Let’s check out some other notes from the North Star State…

  • Head coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t have a particular “style” or “scheme,” but Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune writes that the outlook is refreshing. Previous Vikings coaches have ultimately been unsuccessful with their particular philosophies, but Zimmer’s “fly by the seat of my pants” attitude is exactly what the organization needs. “I just try to be myself,” he said. “My only strategy was that, especially around the defense, I wanted to show them that in the meeting rooms and by the way I’m teaching them with the tape and with techniques, that they can believe that I can coach.”
  • Linebacker Anthony Barr has been present for the team’s OTAs, but a knee injury has prevented the former first-rounder from participating. While the second-year player had arthroscopic knee surgery following last season, FoxSports.com’s Brian Hall writes that Barr is currently struggling with a separate injury. “He’s got another injury, but I really don’t want to talk about it,” Zimmer said. “He’s going to be fine.”
  • Defensive end Scott Crichton struggled during his rookie campaign as he adjusted to the Vikings’ system. ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling says the second-year player has surprised during OTAs, and his head coach has also noticed the improvement. “He’s not thinking so much,” Zimmer said. “He’s more attacking and then playing football as opposed to thinking and then playing football. In a lot of those ways he’s improved a lot. We’ve moved him inside some and he’s flashed a little bit in there, but again, I’m being cautious with my evaluations.”