Vikings Rumors

Poll: Should The Vikings Extend Dalvin Cook?

A number of teams have been burned by giving lucrative contracts to running backs. The Cardinals (David Johnson), Rams (Todd Gurley), and Falcons (Devonta Freeman) are among the clubs that have absorbed significant cap charges for players who did not live up to their big payday. None of those players made it to the end of their second contract before being traded or cut.

In addition, as important as some RBs can be to their team’s offense (see: Christian McCaffrey), the position has generally been devalued in recent years. The prevailing thought is that most running backs are more replaceable than players at other key positions, and that RBs have a shorter shelf-life due to their number of touches and the beatings they take whenever they have the ball in their hands.

The Vikings, therefore, have a major decision to make when it comes to their own RB1, 2017 second-rounder Dalvin Cook. Cook burst onto the scene in his rookie campaign, gaining 122 yards in his regular season debut and averaging nearly five yards per carry in his first four games in the league. Unfortunately, his season was ended by an ACL injury in the fourth game, and in 2018, he was bothered by nagging hamstring issues and played in just 11 games, recording 133 carries.

Despite the hamstring problems and the limited workload in 2018, Cook did manage 4.6 yards per carry that season and also recorded 40 receptions for 305 yards. And though he was limited down the stretch of the 2019 season due to a chest injury, he piled up 250 carries for 1,135 yards (4.5 YPC) and 13 TDs to go along with 53 catches for 519 yards. He ranked as the eighth-best back in the league in terms of defense-adjusted yards above replacement.

So when he’s healthy, he’s pretty darn good, especially for an offense that wants to run the ball a lot. And the silver lining to his injury history is that he should still have a fair amount of tread on his tires, having recorded just 457 carries in his pro career thus far.

On the other hand, the fact that he has missed time with various ailments over his first three seasons in the league is troubling, and for a team that does not have a lot of cap room — particularly if the 2021 cap is reduced due to COVID-19 — ponying up a big-money extension for an injury-risk RB could be problematic. Though Cook will likely not get McCaffrey money, he could easily command $15MM or so on an annual basis, with $30-$40MM in full guarantees.

The Vikings did not select an RB with any of their 15 (!) picks in this year’s draft, but they do return 2019 third-rounder Alexander Mattison, who performed well as Cook’s backup last season. One wonders if Mattison’s presence makes Minnesota less keen to break the bank for Cook.

That said, discussions between Cook and the Vikings have taken place. The soon-to-be 25-year-old said he wants to stay in Minnesota, and he has been participating in the club’s virtual offseason program. We haven’t gotten a status update on the contract talks for a bit — they may be stalled due to COVID-related uncertainty — and it remains to be seen whether a re-up will be hashed out this summer, or if Cook will play out the final year of his rookie deal with an eye towards unrestricted free agency in 2021.

So what do you think? Should Minnesota give Cook top-of-the-market money (or close to it), or should the club pass the torch to Mattison in 2021? Vote in the poll below, and show your work in the comment section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Zimmer: Plan Was Not To Trade Stefon Diggs

The Vikings’ starting lineup will look considerably different this season. After the team kept signing its core members to extensions over the past few offseasons, it dismantled some of that nucleus this year. While the exits of Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph and Trae Waynes were noticeable, none of Minnesota’s moves registered like the Stefon Diggs deal.

Diggs is Buffalo-bound after the Vikings traded him for a package of picks headlined by this year’s No. 22 overall selection, which became LSU wideout Justin Jefferson. Despite entering another offseason near the salary cap, and with Diggs having created some distractions during his Twin Cities stay, Mike Zimmer said the team was not intent on trading its talented wideout.

Honestly, Diggs did not have to go,” Zimmer said during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show (via NFL.com). “We really didn’t have any intention of trading him. Quite honestly, he put out a couple tweets, and there were some things going on there. But Stefon worked extremely hard. He practices like crazy. He wants the ball — like all receivers do.

Really, what happened was, Buffalo came in and gave us all those picks. And we were up against it in the salary cap. So we just felt like we could save some money, get a bunch of picks, maybe get a young receiver like (Jefferson) that we got. So, I wish him well. He’s a good kid. He worked hard for me.”

The Bills sent the Vikings 2020 first-, fifth- and sixth-round picks and a 2021 fourth-rounder for Diggs, who is signed to a $14.4MM-per-year deal through 2023. This haul ended up being similar to the one the Seahawks sent the Vikings for Percy Harvin seven years ago. Seattle dealt first-, third- and seventh-rounders for Harvin in 2013, and the Vikings used the top pick to draft Rhodes. This time, Minnesota used the top acquired asset to fill the void created by the receiver trade, and Jefferson will be tasked with filling Diggs’ spot alongside Adam Thielen.

Buffalo discussed Diggs with Minnesota before last year’s trade deadline, and the Vikings were believed to have softened their asking price when the teams talked again in March. Diggs missed practices last season and was believed to be dissatisfied with his role, leading to trade rumors. This and Diggs’ pre-trade tweets suggesting he was not long for Minnesota notwithstanding, Zimmer did not characterize the five-year Viking as a major problem.

Really, if you said somebody was a pain in the butt, you probably wouldn’t say him,” Zimmer said. “I’ve been around way worse guys than him. I hope he has a great career and finishes up strong.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Anthony Harris Signs Vikings’ Tender

Done deal. On Sunday, Vikings safety Anthony Harris announced that he will sign his franchise tender (Twitter link). 

Although it has been a strange offseason, time spent in isolation with family has been refreshing and energizing. This is just one step in god’s plan for me and my family,” Harris wrote. “I will let my agents and the Vikings work towards long term certainty in Minnesota, but I am excited to be back for the 2020 season.”

Harris, 29 in June, tallied 60 tackles and eleven passes defended in 2019, plus six interceptions (tied for the NFL lead). Beyond that, the advanced metrics have positioned him as one of the league’s best safeties over the last two years. He’s now hoping to parlay that success into a major payday for the remainder of his prime seasons.

The franchise tag for safeties this year pays $11.4MM. That’s not chump change, but there are now five safeties in the league making upwards of $14MM per season. Naturally, that’s what Harris and his reps are eyeing in a new contract.

The Vikings have been keen on keeping their brightest stars. They’ve also overhauled their secondary this offseason, moving on from cornerbacks Xavier RhodesTrae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander, plus safeties Jayron Kearse and Andrew Sendejo. Still, the Vikings have rejected trade inquiries on Harris, kept him with the tag, and backed him publicly.

I know we have some big changes in the secondary,” Spielman said earlier this year. “One of the things — not only is Anthony Harris a great football player for us, and great in the community — but by us being able to franchise Anthony, we do have the safeties pretty well set, knowing that we’re going to have a lot of young corners we’re going to have to line up and play with.”

Per the terms of the franchise tag, the two sides have until the July deadline to hammer out an extension. If no deal is reached by then, they’ll have to wait until after the 2020 season to resume talks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Griffen, Robinson, Bengals

Everson Griffen is one of the top two pass rushers still on the market, and we heard last month that he would probably not re-sign with the Vikings. However, Minnesota did not do much to add to its pass rushing corps in the draft, with South Carolina DE D.J. Wonnum representing the most notable addition. And while GM Rick Spielman acknowledged that his team’s cap space makes it difficult to bring Griffen back, he did not rule it out.

“It is hard to say right now where everything is at and where we are at, [but] until things become more normalized I will never say never on a player,” Spielman recently said on the #PFTPM podcast (via PFT’s Mike Florio). “[Y]our roster is never set.”

Griffen has expressed an interest in joining the Seahawks, but Seattle is still open to bringing back Jadeveon Clowney. If Clowney returns to the ‘Hawks, perhaps Griffen will settle for a one-year deal on a Minnesota defense that he will not have to learn on the fly.

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • Of the three OTs the Vikings added in this year’s draft, only second-rounder Ezra Cleveland profiles as an immediate threat to incumbent LT Riley Reiff. The team could again entertain the notion of kicking Reiff inside to LG, but that’s only if Cleveland proves himself ready for starting left tackle duties, which would be a tall order given the COVID-19 restrictions. So as Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune suggests, Reiff will likely stay at LT for the time being, and 2019 fourth-rounder Dru Samia will compete with Pat Elflein for the starting LG slot. The team could also target a free agent for that role, including Josh Kline, whom the Vikings released in a cost-cutting move in March.
  • Bears WR Allen Robinson said towards the end of last season that he is interested in an extension with Chicago, but the two sides do not appear to be close to a new deal, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Robinson is ticketed for free agency after the 2020 campaign, and Biggs suggests that the franchise tag could be in play if there is no extension in place by the second month of the season.
  • Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic says both A.J. Green and the Bengals have interest in getting a long-term deal done, but it’s unclear exactly how much interest. He expects that nothing will come together prior to the July 15 deadline, which means Green will have to play out the 2020 season on his franchise tender. While there’s a better chance Cincinnati comes to terms with RB Joe Mixon on a new contract, that will not happen before a decision on Green is made. The Bengals are reportedly bracing themselves for a Mixon holdout.
  • In the same piece linked above, Dehner says the Bengals are unlikely to make any free agent additions to the O-line at this point. In a separate piece, he notes that Cincinnati made a free agent splash on cornerbacks in free agency because it did not like this year’s CB draft class. The team did not take a defensive back with any of its seven selections.

Trent Williams Willing To Wait On New Deal

The 49ers are now the team dealing with Trent Williams‘ hopes for a new contract. But their new left tackle said he is willing to be patient.

In addressing his contract Thursday, Williams did not indicate this is an issue the 49ers must address now. The soon-to-be 32-year-old lineman has one season — with a non-guaranteed $12.5MM base salary — remaining on a five-year deal he agreed to in 2015.

We both agreed on we can take a wait-and-see approach,” Williams said, via the San Jose Mercury News’ Cam Inman (on Twitter). “… Obviously it’s an incentive for me to play well. Both parties are interested in something long term but I’m more than OK with just getting my feet wet and just playing it out.

Shortly after Joe Staley‘s retirement, the 49ers traded a 2020 fifth-round pick and a 2021 third-rounder for Williams. This ended a lengthy standoff with the Redskins. The Vikings had also pursued Williams, who was believed to have scuttled a trade to Minnesota. Williams’ agent denied this, and Williams said the Vikings did not land him because they dropped out of the chase. The soon-to-be 32-year-old tackle added that his and the Vikings’ visions did not line up. The Vikings drafted Ezra Cleveland in Round 2.

The Vikings, long term, and what I looked at long term, it didn’t sync up,” Williams said, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “They just really dropped out. It wasn’t me refusing to go.”

The seven-time Pro Bowler worked with Kyle Shanahan during the latter’s stay as Washington’s offensive coordinator. The familiarity with Shanahan and his offensive system led Williams to view San Francisco as a preferred destination, he added.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Sign 12 UDFAs

On Monday, the Vikings formally signed a dozen undrafted free agents:

The Vikings gave Davis a $100K guarantee (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle), a sizable sum for UDFAs. Davis is coming off of solid back-to-back seasons with the Aggies and many expect him to hear his name called on Day 3. In 2019, he caught 54 passes for 616 yards and four touchdowns. Davis and Chisena will fight for a place on the WR depth chart, which also includes first-round pick Justin Jefferson and fifth-round choice K.J. Osborn.

Clarke, meanwhile, fetched a total guarantee of $115K (Twitter link via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press) and Aiello has $45K locked in (Twitter link via Wilson).

Dalvin Cook To Join Vikings’ Virtual OTAs

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook will be on hand (or, rather, online) for the Vikings’ virtual offseason program, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Cook has been pushing for a new deal as he enters his walk year, but that won’t stop him from participating in the club’s voluntary OTAs. 

[RELATED: Vikings Tried, Failed To Land Trent Williams] 

This could be a sign that things are trending in the right direction between the Vikes and their starting running back. Or, it could just mean that things are, generally, in a good place between the player and the club. Typically, players seeking new contracts are skittish about offseason activities because of the injury risk involved. Obviously, there’s no risk of injury when the OTAs consist of Zoom meetings.

So far, Cook and the Vikings have been on the same page.

“I definitely love Minnesota,” the 24-year-old (25 in August) said recently. “I love everything the state has to bring. Being a kid, I was drafted (in 2017) from Miami (his hometown), so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I actually am happy where I’m at, and I would like to be in Minnesota long term.” 

Last year, Cook ran for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He also added another 519 yards through the air, giving him more than 1,600 all-purpose yards on the year. Meanwhile, he’s slated to earn a base salary of just $1.33MM in 2020.

The Florida State product fell to the second round in 2017, which means that the Vikings do not have the luxury of the fifth-year option. There’s a sense of urgency on both sides here – Cook wants security and the Vikings, ideally, would like to keep Cook under control at a reasonable rate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

More On Vikings’ Failed Pursuit Of Trent Williams

Another hour, another Trent Williams story. This time, the offensive lineman’s agent says the player never objected to a trade to the Vikings.

“On behalf of my client Trent Williams and with the permission of the Washington Redskins I sought trade opportunities for the Redskins to trade Trent,” wrote agent Vincent Taylor (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter). “Once I identified the potential trade partners, I wanted to respect all teams’ rights and the process and allowed the Redskins to negotiate directly with the other teams. There has been false reporting that Trent and I objected to particular trades. I will continue to respect the Redskins’ right to negotiate a trade, and hope that the negotiations quickly lead to a trade that is in the Redskins’ interest, Trent’s interest, and the interest of the other team.”

We learned earlier today that the Redskins had been closing in on a deal with the Vikings. However, at the eleventh hour, Williams reportedly nixed the deal.

While Williams’ agent said there’s been “false reporting,” NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport said the agent’s “statement is actually false…what I reported is true.”

In fact, Rapoport provides more insight into the failed talks between Washington and Minnesota, noting that the organizations has been talking trade for some time. In fact, the Vikings had actually discussed a new contract with Williams’ agent, and the trade “should have gotten done.” Instead, the Minnesota front office found out yesterday that the offensive lineman didn’t want to join their team.

While the Vikings are out of the race (especially after taking Ezra Cleveland in the second round), it sounds like the Redskins still have some suitors. Earlier today, we heard that the 49ers and Rams could emerge as trade partners.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.