Vikings Rumors

Vikings Extend GM Rick Spielman

Vikings GM Rick Spielman has a new deal to match head coach Mike Zimmer. On Monday, the Vikings officially announced a brand new deal for their top football exec to take him through the 2023 season. 

Rick has been outstanding in his role as Vikings general manager,” Vikings owner Mark Wilf said in a statement. “We are excited and honored to have him continue to lead our efforts to build a championship roster and first-class organization. With Rick’s and Coach Zimmer’s leadership in place, we are in a great position to continue to compete for a Super Bowl.”

Spielman has been with the Vikings since 2006 and has served as their GM since 2012. Since his big promotion, the Vikings have made the playoffs four times including an appearance in the NFC Championship Game (2017). And, with Zimmer as his head coach, the club has posted a record of 57-38-1.

Spielman was set to enter his walk year. Now, he has some extra security heading into his 15th season with the organization.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/3/20

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here. For the running list of opt out decisions, check out PFR’s 2020 Opt Out Tracker.

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

  • Released: QB Jalen Morton, FB Elijah Wellman

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

  • Claimed off waivers (from Colts): CB Picasso Nelson

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Raiders Trade P.J. Hall To Vikings

The Raiders are trading defensive tackle P.J. Hall to the Vikings, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. In exchange, the Vikings will send a conditional seventh-round choice to the Raiders.

Hall was supposed to be waived before the end of the business day. Instead, the Vikings swooped in with a trade offer. Instead of crossing their fingers and waiting to see if Hall slipped on the waiver wire, they pulled off a deal. The pick will only change hands if Hall is on the roster for a certain number of games, so it’s essentially a low-cost, no-risk pickup for the Vikes.

Hall, a 2018 second-round pick, was pushed out of the starting lineup by the addition of Maliek Collins. Then, he lost his spot on the team, despite his reasonable rookie contract.

Hall started in 12 of his 16 games last year, finishing out with 26 tackles and 1.5 sacks from the interior. The Vikings will assume the remainder of his contract and have him under club control through 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker

Per an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, players with COVID-19 health concerns can opt out of the 2020 season. Initially, the deadline was believed to be Tuesday, August 4. Recently, we learned that the deadline is set for seven days after the final execution of the agreement. The lawyers are still hashing out some paperwork matters, so the NFL is looking to push up the date.

Chiefs guard and medical school graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to officially opt out. This week, scores of players followed.

Here’s the rundown, so far:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

  • OL Anthony McKinney

Washington Football Team

Free agents

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings’ Michael Pierce Opts Out

Vikings nose tackle Michael Pierce is opting out of the 2020 season, according to Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). the Vikings signed Pierce in March to shore up their defensive front – without him, they’re left thin on the interior with weeks to go before the start of the season.

Pierce inked a three-year, $27MM deal to help replace Linval Joseph, following his departure to the Chargers. The 6-foot, 340-pound defensive lineman was slated to start, but he’ll sit out the year after assessing the risk. Pierce has a history of respiratory trouble, meaning that the coronavirus could put him in serious jeopardy.

In 2019, with the Ravens, Pierce logged 35 tackles (two for loss) in 14 starts. Previous to that, Pierce graded as one of the top interior defenders in football in 2017 and ’18, per Pro Football Focus, before dipping to a middle-of-the-pack spot in his contract year.

Pierce is just the latest NFL notable to opt out of the upcoming season. The full and ever-growing list can be found here, on PFR’s 2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Vikings, Dalvin Cook

It sounds like the Vikings and Dalvin Cook are on better terms than they were a few weeks ago. The star running back has indicated that he will not hold out from the team, according to head coach Mike Zimmer, who adds that he is going to make him a team captain in 2020 (via PFT). 

[RELATED: Cook Seeking $15MM/Year?]

Cook is set to make $1.331MM in his walk year. Meanwhile, he’s been angling for a long-term deal that will make him one of the league’s highest-paid running backs. That’s a difficult proposition for a number of reasons. First, there’s the current economic climate. There’s also the matter of Cook’s track record – he was stellar in 2019, but often injured in his previous seasons.

Cook averaged almost 5.0 ypc in his first four games as a pro, before going down with an ACL tear. In 2018, a nagging hamstring capped him at just eleven games, though he did manage 4.6 yards per tote, plus 40 catches for 305 yards. Last year, he put up career highs left and right –250 carries, 1,135 rushing yards (4.5 YPC), and 13 touchdowns, along with 53 receptions for 519 yards. Those totals would have been even gaudier, if not for a late-season chest injury.

Christian McCaffrey blew the lid off of the RB market earlier this year, perhaps paving the way for Cook to secure an even larger bag. Eventually, Cook could get the eight-figure-per-year salary he wants, but it probably won’t happen this week. The COVID-19 opt out option is Cook’s last real piece of leverage, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll take advantage of that threat.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Place WR Justin Jefferson, Others On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Vikings first-round pick Justin Jefferson has landed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. Rookies Brian Cole, Blake Brandel and Tyler Higby are also now on this newly created list.

Minnesota’s rookie contingent reported to camp recently. Players must test negative for the coronavirus three times before entering teams’ facilities. During an offseason that has already featured major developmental hurdles placed in rookies’ paths, Jefferson and Co. will now see their timetables pushed back.

The reserve/COVID-19 designation is for players who have tested positive for the coronavirus or are in quarantine for potential exposure. In turn, these players are removed from the roster and allowed to return after three weeks.

It is not certain if Jefferson and the three other rookies have contracted the virus. Players must be placed on the COVID-19/reserve list if they test positive or have come in contact with an infected person. The Vikings announced earlier Monday their infection control officer, Eric Sugarman, tested positive for the coronavirus. Members of Sugarman’s family did as well.

The Vikings used one of their two first-round picks on Jefferson, who will be expected to fill the role Stefon Diggs occupied for years opposite Adam Thielen. Jefferson is coming off a dominant senior season at LSU, when he caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns. Minnesota used a sixth-round pick on Brandel, a tackle out of Oregon State, and a seventh-round choice on Cole — a safety out of Mississippi State. Higby, a guard from Michigan State, arrived as part of the Vikes’ most recent UDFA class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mutual Interest Between Packers, Everson Griffen

Despite having made two big signings to fortify their edge rusher positions last year, the Packers are interested another impact pass-rushing talent.

The Packers are among the teams to express interest in free agent edge defender Everson Griffen, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The longtime Vikings defensive end is interested in a Green Bay deal as well, per Rapoport. This marks the second team Griffen has identified as a preferred landing spot. He pegged Seattle as a potential destination months ago.

This news comes shortly after Mike Zimmer indicated he would love to have Griffen back for an 11th season in Minnesota. The seventh-year Vikings HC, however, was not sure where that process stood.

I know that he texted me the other day telling me congratulations and things like that,” Zimmer said regarding his recent contract extension. “I’d love to have him back. He’s always been one of my guys, so if that happens that’d be great. I don’t know where that’s at right now.”

The Vikings have been believed set to move on from Griffen this offseason, but they did not make a notable investment to replace the Pro Bowl pass rusher. The Packers, however, already have Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, along with 2019 first-round pick Rashan Gary. Adding Griffen at this juncture would not cost Green Bay the kind of money it shelled out for the Smiths — $16.5MM and $13MM on average, respectively — and it would certainly bolster one of the league’s best pass-rushing groups. Though, Griffen — Minnesota’s No. 4 all-time sack leader — would seemingly have a better chance to see significant playing time elsewhere. The Packers hold nearly $12MM in cap space; the Vikings have almost $10MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Sign CB Jeff Gladney, Wrap 15-Player Draft Class

The largest draft class in the seven-round era is now under contract. The Vikings agreed to terms with first-round cornerback Jeff Gladney on Thursday, closing the book on negotiations with their 15-man draft class.

Chosen 31st overall, Gladney will be expected to compete for a starting job right away. While the COVID-19 pandemic eliminating onsite offseason work (and threatening training camps’ start date) will make the TCU product’s climb more difficult, the Vikings lost three corners — Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander — this offseason.

Minnesota made Gladney its second first-round corner chosen in three years, following Mike Hughes, and fourth since 2013. Gladney spent five years with the Horned Frogs. He finished as a first-team All-Big 12 selection last season and graded as Pro Football Focus’ top Big 12 corner in passer rating allowed in 2018.

The Vikings made three corner selections this year. They will join Hughes, Holton Hill and 2019 seventh-rounder Kris Boyd in attempting to fill the void left by the Rhodes release and the Waynes and Alexander free agency defections.

Here is the full Vikings 15-man draft class:

1-22: Justin Jefferson, WR (LSU): Signed
1-31: Jeff Gladney, CB (TCU): Signed
2-58: Ezra Cleveland, OT (Boise State): Signed
3-89: Cameron Dantzler, CB (Mississippi State): Signed
4-117: D.J. Wonnum, DE (South Carolina): Signed
4-130: James Lynch, DT (Baylor): Signed
4-132: Troy Dye, OLB (Oregon): Signed
5-169: Harrison Hand, CB (Temple): Signed
5-176: K.J. Osborn, WR (Miami): Signed
6-201: Blake Brandel, T (Oregon State): Signed
6-203: Josh Metellus, S (Michigan): Signed
7-225: Kenny Willekes, DE (Michigan State): Signed
7-244: Nate Stanley, QB (Iowa): Signed
7-249: Brian Cole II, S (Mississippi State): Signed
7-253: Kyle Hinton, OL (Washburn): Signed

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 7/23/20

Here are Thursday’s draft pick agreements, with the list being updated throughout the day.

  • The Vikings picked an interesting year to make 15 draft choices, given the pandemic’s impact on developmental work. But the team is nearly finished with rookie contract agreements. Minnesota signed third-round cornerback Cameron Dantzler (Mississippi State), fourth-round defensive end D.J. Wonnum (South Carolina), fifth-round corner Harrison Hand (Temple), fifth-round wideout K.J. Osborn (Miami), sixth-round tackle Blake Brandel (Oregon State), sixth-round safety Josh Metellus (Michigan), seventh-round defensive end Kenny Willekes (Michigan State) and seventh-round safety Brian Cole (Mississippi State). Minnesota lost Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander this offseason and tripled up on corners in the draft. First-round corner Jeff Gladney is the Vikes’ lone unsigned pick.
  • Top 2020 Steelers pick Chase Claypool, a second-rounder, is now under contract. The Steelers have their latest Day 2 wide receiver investment signed, along with Round 6 safety Antoine Brooks (Maryland). Claypool’s addition means the top four Pittsburgh wideouts — JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson and Claypool — came from the second or third rounds. The Notre Dame product has quite the SPARQ profile, going 6-foot-4, 238 pounds and running a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the Combine.
  • Washington wrapped up its 2020 draft class by signing Round 4 tackle Saahdiq Charles, Round 5 linebacker Khaleke Hudson, Round 6 safety Kamren Curl and Round 7 defensive end James Smith-Williams.
  • The Bengals signed one of Claypool’s former Fighting Irish teammates, fifth-round defensive end Khalid Kareem. He is the first of Cincinnati’s seven 2020 picks to agree to terms.