Rick Spielman

Vikings Tried To Trade Into Second Round

The Vikings entered last night and ended last night with four third-round picks, but it sounds like the front office tried to consolidate those selections and move into the second round. General manager Rick Spielman told reporters that he tried to trade into the second round but the price proved to be too expensive (via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Twitter).

The Vikings didn’t own a second-round pick thanks to last year’s Yannick Ngakoue trade. They managed to somewhat recoup that investment when they shipped the veteran to the Ravens for a third-round pick. Spielman then added another pair of third-rounders from the Jets when Minny moved back from No. 14 to No. 23.

The team ultimately used each of those third-round picks last night (including their own):

The Vikings will have plenty of opportunities to move around the board on Saturday. The team has six selections between the fourth and sixth rounds, including three selections in the fourth round.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Tried To Trade Up Twice In First Round

Vikings GM Rick Spielman went into the first round of last night’s draft ready to wheel and deal. As Dan Duggan of The Athletic reports, the Vikings, who originally held the No. 14 overall pick, called the Giants about moving up to No. 11 (Twitter link). But the QB-needy Bears were willing to give New York a massive haul to trade up from No. 20 to No. 11, a swap that included a 2022 first-rounder.

Obviously, Spielman wasn’t about to part with that kind of capital to move up three spots. While we don’t know exactly who he wanted to move up for, it seems likely that the target was Northwestern LT Rashawn Slater, who went to the Chargers at No. 13, one pick before Minnesota. With Slater gone, the Vikes then engineered a trade down, acquiring the No. 23 pick and two third-round choices from the Jets to allow Gang Green to move up to No. 14 (the Vikings also sent a fourth-round selection to the Jets).

With that No. 23 pick, Spielman got a big-time LT prospect in Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw, but he had to sweat it out. He worried that Darrisaw, like Slater, would be snapped up before the Vikings were back on the clock, so he thought about trading back up.

“Once we got down to about four or five picks, when we went down to 23, we did try to go back up because we wanted to try to make sure that we got Christian,” Spielman said (via Craig Peters of the team’s official website). “We were unable to [move up]. Fortunately, we did not have to. We were able to keep our extra picks that we gained and still got the player that we coveted. So, it worked out very well for us.”

Darrisaw, whose natural athleticism and talent give him a high floor, is effective both in pass- and run-blocking. Scouting reports suggest that he will have to work on finishing his blocks, but the ability and the technique is already professional-grade. He should be an immediate starter at left tackle, a job that belonged to Riley Reiff for the past four seasons.

Spielman said this morning that the “sweet spot” of this year’s draft is in the third and fourth rounds (Twitter link via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). That’s good news for him, as the Vikings now have four third-rounders and three fourth-rounders to work with. That will give them some ammunition to continue moving around the board, and Spielman also suggested that he could even look to pick up more picks in the 2022 draft (Twitter link via Tomasson). Minnesota is already scheduled to have 11 selections next year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

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.

Vikings Likely To Cut Xavier Rhodes; Latest On Everson Griffen

Earlier today, we discussed a possible extension for Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, an extension that would give Minnesota some much-needed cap space. In addition to a potential new deal for Cousins, Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune notes that other priorities for the Vikings this offseason include extensions for head coach Mike Zimmer, GM Rick Spielman, and running back Dalvin Cook, all of whom are only under contract through 2020. The team will also need to find a new OC, as the Browns just hired Kevin Stefanski to be their next head coach.

The Vikings may also be looking at some significant turnover on the defensive side of the ball. As Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press observes, four of the team’s six defensive starters with Pro Bowls on their resumes — DE Everson Griffen, DT Linval Joseph, S Harrison Smith, and CB Xavier Rhodes — are on the wrong side of 30, or will be next season (Twitter link).

Per Tomasson, Minnesota is likely to release Rhodes. That does not come as much of a surprise, as Rhodes’ play has declined dramatically since he signed a lucrative extension in July 2017, and the team could net a $8.1MM cap savings by cutting him.

Tomasson also suggests that Griffen may not be back with the team in 2020. Pursuant to the terms of a reworked deal that Griffen and the Vikings agreed to last March, Griffen is technically under contract through 2022. But because he played at least 56% of the team’s defensive snaps in 2019 and recorded at least six sacks — he actually played over 77% of defensive snaps while posting eight sacks — he has the ability to void the 2020-22 seasons and hit free agency. Or, even if he does not choose to do so, the Vikings could release him and save about $13MM of cap space.

In any event, it figures to be a busy offseason for Minnesota, a talented team that has just not been able to get over the hump.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings To Stick With Mike Zimmer, Rick Spielman

The Vikings won’t be on the hunt for a new head coach or a GM. On Friday, Vikings owner Mark Wilf backed Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman in a press release and ensured their status for 2020: 

We value Mike and Rick’s leadership and we have every intent of Mike continuing as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and Rick leading our football operations, next year and beyond.”

The Vikings finished the year 10-6, good enough for a Wild Card spot in the NFC. They enter this weekend’s game against the Saints as underdogs – particularly with a thinned-out secondary to guard Michael Thomas & Co. – but Zimmer and Spielman will return, regardless of the outcome.

It’s worth noting that the contracts for Zimmer and Spielman will expire after the 2020 season. An extension would truly solidify their standing in Minnesota. Otherwise, they’ll be lame ducks heading into next year.

Zimmer, 63, has led the Vikings to three playoff appearances and two divisional crowns over five seasons. In 2017, the Vikings reached the NFC Championship Game where they were stopped by the Eagles. Last year, the Vikings fell short of expectations with a 8-7-1 finish, and they waffled at times in 2019, but they still believe Zimmer is the best man for the job.

Spielman, 57, spent six years as the team’s vice president of player personnel before being promoted to GM in 2012.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Extend GM Rick Spielman

The Vikings have extended the contract of GM Rick Spielman, owner Mark Wilf says (Twitter link via Chad Graff of The Athletic). Spielman, like head coach Mike Zimmer, is now under contract through the 2020 season.

The Vikings have acquired and locked up much of their core under Spielman. Key players such as Danielle Hunter, quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook, wide receiver Adam Thielen, offensive tackle Riley Reiff, center Pat Elflein, linebacker Eric Kendricks, safety Harrison Smith, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and defensive end Everson Griffen are all under contract through 2020 and beyond.

Spielman, 56, spent six years as the team’s vice president of player personnel before being promoted to GM in 2012. Since then, the team has seen its fair share of ups and downs, including last year’s disappointing 8-7-1 finish. Still, the talent is there, and the Vikings have the potential to contend in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings GM Discusses Extensions, Hunter, Future

Earlier today, the Vikings and pass rusher Danielle Hunter agreed to a lucrative five-year, $72MM extension. With the deal, the organization has now locked up many of their core players through at least 2020, including quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook, wide receiver Adam Thielen, offensive tackle Riley Reiff, center Pat Elflein, linebacker Erik Kendricks, safety Harrison Smith, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and defensive end Everson Griffen.

Following the news, general manager Rick Spielman addressed the media, touching on a number of relevant points (including the team’s willingness to still sign Anthony Barr and Stefon Diggs to extensions, which we covered earlier). Lindsey Young of Vikings.com passed along some of the soundbites from the press conference, and we compiled some of the more notable quotes below:

On the Vikings ability to hit on players at any point of the draft (including Hunter in the third round):

“Ever since [Head Coach Mike] Zimmer has been here and we’ve come together, and the way we’ve kind of tailored our drafts, taking guys like this who might not be as polished right out of college, but you see that they have this tremendous upside, and they have these tremendous physical traits. And they’re quality people – they want to really work, and they have passion for the game.

“When they check all of our boxes, then we feel that we have a pretty good chance of having success and hitting on those types of guys.”

On the important of Hunter:

“Pass-rushers are a premium in this league, especially with the way offenses have developed. You have to be able to rush the passer, and Danielle fits like a lot of guys we’ve been able to extend. They come in, they’re high character people, they work extremely hard, they have a passion for the game, and they’re taking to the coaching they’re getting.”

On any worries about a player becoming complacent after signing a lucrative contract:

“Even when they get these contracts and the contract extensions that we’ve done in the past, it seems like those guys take it to the next step after they get these kinds of contracts. And I think that’s, one, the coaching they’re getting and two, hopefully we’re bringing in those types of guys that the game and the passion for the game means something.”

On the difficulty of retaining the Vikings core:

“We started this planning three years ago, and we’re always, we’re planning for the next three years. It’s a combination of us being able to keep this team together but also rewarding the players as they show success on the field and that they’re doing the right things off the field, as well. But it’s not easy.

“It seems like guys want to be here and want to be part of this culture, want to be a part of this organization and want to be a part of this community. They’re going to get rewarded for their success on the field financially, but also I think every one of these guys wants a chance to go in and win and wants to play for an organization that does things the right way, and to play with a group of coaches that have a history of taking guys and developing these guys and actually making them better than when they came in.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Cardinals, Thomas

The Vikings roster is quickly getting expensive. As Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com points out, six players have salary-cap numbers that exceed $10MM for next season: quarterback Kirk Cousins, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive end Everson Griffen, offensive tackle Riley Reiff, and safety Harrison Smith. The team is also paying more than $8MM to defensive tackle defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Sheldon Richardson, and they still have to extend wideout Stefon Diggs and defensive end Danielle Hunter.

With money quickly running thin (the Vikings currently have $17MM in cap space, and Tomasson believes part of that will be used for extensions), general manager Rick Spielman acknowledged that it’s difficult managing the team’s budget.

“The hardest thing right now is the economic structure on our team where we have all these high-priced guys now because they all deserve to get paid the way they’ve been playing,’’ Spielman said. “But economically, we’re not going to go out there, you can’t play fantasy football and have $3 (million), $4 (million) or $5 million backup guys. Those are going to be the young guys that we’ve drafted or we’ve developed.’’

Of course, as he should, Spielman has an optimistic view of the cap crunch.

“It’s a good problem to have, but we have a very high-priced roster right now,’’ Spielman said. “And eventually some of those guys are going to get aged out, just like we had some of our other Pro Bowlers … and you have to replace them.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

Extra Points: Bridgewater, Gronk, Browns, Vikings

It’s been assumed that Jets quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty are trade/release candidates, especially since the team is eyeing a signal-caller with their first-round pick. However, Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com says another Jets quarterback could be at risk of losing their job.

Williams reports that Teddy Bridgewater isn’t a lock to make the Jets roster, “at least until he shows he’s healthy.” The 25-year-old has played less than 10 combined snaps over the past two seasons, but he still earned a one-year deal worth $500K in guaranteed money. During his last season as a starter in 2015, Bridgewater completed 65.3-percent of his passes for 3,231 yards, 14 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.

If the Jets indeed select a quarterback, the depth chart will be incredibly crowded. Besides the three previously-mentioned quarterbacks, the team is also rostering projected starter Josh McCown.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Tight end Rob Gronkowski confirmed on Tuesday that he’ll suit up for the Patriots in 2018, and Peter King of The MMQB is curious about the timing of his announcement. It’s purely speculative from King, but he wonders if Gronk was told that he would have to make his intentions clear about playing before this weekend’s draft. The Patriots have been willing to deal star players in the past, so Gronkowski could have feared that he would have wound up in the same boat as Richard Seymour and Chandler Jones.
  • If the Browns move down from No. 4, they could target Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward further down the board, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Browns have already made some additions at cornerback, but they’re looking for another starter. If they land Ward, you can expect Cleveland to trade Jamar Taylor.
  • Earlier today, reports indicated that Browns head coach Hue Jackson wasn’t sure what the organization would do with the first-overall pick. However, Steve Wyche of NFL Network tweets that Jackson is “fully in the loop” regarding Cleveland’s draft plans. Jackson, along with several coordinators, have seen the front office’s draft board.
  • Vikings GM Rick Spielman seems to have an affinity for taking players out of the ACC, as Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune writes. The Vikings drafted Dalvin Cook, Danny Isidora, Stacy Coley, Bucky Hodges and Jack Tocho, all from the ACC, last year. Conversely, Spielman rarely takes players from the Big 12, with only two selections from that conference — Tyrus Thompson (Oklahoma) and Elijah Lee (Kansas State) — in his six drafts at the wheel.