Vikings Rumors

Vikings Hire Rick Dennison

Previously rumored to be following Gary Kubiak to Minnesota, Rick Dennison made it official. After a lengthy delay, the Vikings announced Dennison will serve as their offensive line coach.

Dennison became connected to this role when Kubiak accepted an assistant head coach position with the Vikings, but the Jets and Packers expressed interest in Dennison. The former Texans, Broncos and Bills OC coached the Jets’ offensive linemen last season.

The 2019 season will mark Dennison’s 18th season on staff with Kubiak, whose return as the Broncos’ OC was scuttled due to wanting to bring former Denver assistants Dennison and Brian Pariani — now the Vikings’ tight ends coach — back to Denver as part of his offensive staff. The Broncos preferred Mike Munchak be their offensive line coach instead and ended up going in that direction, severing ties with Kubiak.

Dennison, who will also serve as Minnesota’s run game coordinator, worked with the Broncos from 1995-2009 and again from 2015-16. The Bills fired him as OC after the 2017 season. This will be a key position gig for the 60-year-old coach, with the Vikings’ struggles up front playing a key role in the team missing the playoffs after it entered last season as a Super Bowl contender.

Previous Vikings offensive line coach Andrew Janocko will stay on staff. He will now work under Dennison as assistant O-line coach, the Vikings announced. Janocko served as Minnesota’s assistant O-line coach in 2017, serving under Tony Sparano. After Sparano’s 2018 death, the Vikings promoted Janocko.

The team also announced Drew Petzing will have a new title, rising from assistant quarterbacks coach to head wideouts coach. Petzing served as Minnesota’s assistant receivers coach from 2016-17.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings May Move Riley Reiff To Guard

  • The Vikings already moved former tackle Mike Remmers to guard in 2018, and they may end up doing the same with their blindside protector. Minnesota is considering shifting left tackle Riley Reiff to guard, sources tell Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Reiff, 30, has played tackle in all 105 of his NFL appearances, and he’s played it quite well: in 2018, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 23rd-best tackle in the league. Per Goessling, the Vikings will take an “open approach” to rebuilding their offensive line, meaning they’ll search for new players in free agency and the draft before finalizing their front five configuration.
  • The structure of Everson Griffen‘s 2017 extension could end up making him a viable candidate for release as the Vikings enter the offseason, as Goessling writes in a separate piece. Per the terms of Griffen’s deal, he received nearly $19MM in new guarantees, but that money has already been paid out in his 2017-18 base salaries and roster bonuses. As Goessling notes, cutting Griffen after a year in which he dealt with mental health issues could seem cruel, but the club could save $10.7MM in cap space by doing so.

Cardinals Claim Tanner Vallejo Off Waivers

Tanner Vallejo has found a new team. After being waived by the Browns yesterday, the linebacker has been claimed by the Cardinals (via the team’s website).

While the 24-year-old has been waived twice over past five months, there were still plenty of teams lining up to make a claim. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the Jets, Giants, Bengals, Vikings, and Chargers also made an attempt to claim Vallejo off waivers. Thanks to Arizona’s league-worst 3-13 record, they got first dibs on the player.

The Boise State product was selected by the Bills in the sixth-round of the 2017 draft, and he proceeded to appear in 15 games as a rookie. Vallejo was waived by Buffalo prior to this past season before landing on the Browns. In fact, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo points out (via Twitter) that the Cardinals made an unsuccessful claim on the linebacker at that time, so their interest in the linebacker isn’t anything new.

Vallejo ended up being relatively productive in Cleveland, compiling 27 tackles and one forced fumble in 13 games (one start). He ultimately finished the season on IR due to a hamstring injury. The Cardinals will now pick up the two years remaining on his rookie contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Newman Unsure Of Coaching Future

  • Sean Ryan was connected to multiple North-division offensive coordinator openings last year, but both the Browns and Vikings went in different directions. A year later, though, the Lions will bring the Texans’ quarterbacks coach north. Ryan will replace George Godsey as Detroit’s QBs coach, the team announced. Godsey will join Brian Flores‘ staff in Miami. This will be Ryan’s third gig instructing QBs. He first held that post with the Giants from 2012-13. The past two years, he worked with Deshaun Watson in Houston.
  • Terence Newman transitioned from the NFL’s oldest active defensive player to a Vikings coach at this season’s outset. The Vikings want him back for another year, but Newman is not certain to keep coaching, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP.com (via Twitter). The 40-year-old coach is no longer listed among Minnesota’s coaches on the team website.

Vikings No Longer In Running For Darren Rizzi

  • The five teams that coveted former Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi — the Bills, Jets, Lions, Packers and Vikings — are no longer in the running for Rizzi, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets. But two other teams are interested. Rizzi and incoming Dolphins HC Brian Flores met recently and decided to part ways, per Salguero (on Twitter).

Vikings Hire ST Coach Marwan Maalouf

  • Like the Packers, the Vikings expressed interest in hiring Rizzi, but they’ve since gone in another direction. Minnesota has hired Rizzi’s assistant in Miami, Marwan Maalouf, as their new special teams coach, tweets Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio. Maalouf served as the Colts’ special teams coach in 2012 before joining Miami the following season. He’s replacing Mike Priefer, who left the Vikings to take the Browns’ ST job. Last year, the Vikings ranked 20th in Football Outsiders’ special teams metrics, while the Dolphins were one spot behind at No. 21.
  • Rick Dennison preferred to stay on as the Jets‘ offensive line coach under new head coach Adam Gase, but New York instead hired Frank Pollack to guide their front five. However, both the Vikings and Packers remain “strong possibilities” for Dennison, per Marvez (Twitter link). Dennison had been expected to immediately follow Gary Kubiak — who was recently hired as a Vikings’ offensive advisor — to Minnesota, but that union hasn’t yet happened. Green Bay, meanwhile, has already hired Adam Stenavich as its offensive line coach, so Dennison would come aboard in a different position.

ESPN: Daniels Better Pick Than Hughes?

  • While the Vikings again selected a cornerback in the first round last year in Mike Hughes, perhaps their offensive line needs should have won out. In an ESPN.com redraft, Courtney Cronin wrote Bears interior lineman James Daniels would have been the better choice (ESPN+ link). Daniels became a full-time starter with the Bears as a second-round rookie, being a first-string presence in Chicago’s final 10 regular-season games. ESPN also gave the Lions a different offensive lineman with their first pick, Michael Rothstein pulling the trigger on Giants guard Will Hernandez instead of Frank Ragnow.

Todd Downing To Leave Vikings Staff

  • Tight ends coach Todd Downing is not expected to return to the Vikings in 2019, reports Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Downing still has a year remaining on his contract and was offered two new roles on offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski‘s staff, but it sounds like Downing turned down both opportunities. He’s now looking for other jobs elsewhere, and while there is a small chance he could eventually come back to Minnesota, a reunion is not considered likely, per Cronin. Downing, 38, was a rising star as recently as 2017, when the Raiders pushed out Bill Musgrave in order to make Downing offensive coordinator.

Vikings Likely To Hire Rick Dennison

Darren Rizzi interviewed for the Dolphins coaching job that is likely to go to Brian Flores, but the special teams coordinator is a coveted commodity around the league. The Packers are set to interview him, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Miami wants to retain Rizzi, who has been with the team throughout the 2010s, but has given him permission to seek employment elsewhere. That may soon prompt an extensive interview circuit. Five teams are interested in bringing him aboard, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. The Vikings look to be one of those. Rizzi, 48, has only coached for one NFL franchise. His pre-Dolphins gigs were college jobs in the northeast, including a one-season stay (2008) as Rhode Island’s head coach.

  • The Vikings announced Klint Kubiak (quarterbacks coach) and Brian Pariani (tight ends) are following Gary Kubiak to Minnesota, with the latter’s official title being assistant head coach/offensive advisor. Expected to be part of the Gary Kubiak gang getting back together up north, Rick Dennison was not included in this announcement. But Mike Klis of 9News notes the former Broncos and Bills OC is indeed believed to be part of the next Vikings staff (Twitter link). When Kubiak agreed to reprise his longtime role as Broncos OC, he wanted Dennison to oversee the team’s offensive line concepts, per Klis. The Broncos’ pursuit of Mike Munchak overruled this, and Dennison — the Jets’ O-line coach in 2018 — could be set to have a role in aiding the Vikings’ blockers next season.