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Vikings will be ‘deliberate’ in first hiring a general manager, then a head coach

Mark Wilf said Minnesota first will seek a general manager and that hire “will have input in the head coach.”

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12), quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich talk before the start of the game Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium. Leftwich has been mentioned as a potential head coaching candidate around the NFL.
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings will hire a new general manager before they look for a new head coach. If they miss out on a so-called hot coaching candidate, so be it.

With the Vikings missing the playoffs for the second straight year, they fired head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman on Monday. Owner and president Mark Wilf said criteria the Vikings are seeking in replacements are “great leaders, great communicators and great collaborators.”

Wilf said Minnesota first will seek a general manager and that hire “will have input in the head coach.” He is not concerned about other teams with openings for a coach perhaps beating the Vikings to candidates.

“We don’t try to look at who’s hot and who’s cold,” Wilf said. “Because we’re looking at the criteria I spoke about. …. I know there are a lot of good people, and this is a highly desirable position to be leading the Minnesota Vikings, a storied franchise. … So I’m confident we’ll be OK there. We’re not going to get caught up in any kind of frenzies in terms of chasing this one or that one. We’re going to be deliberate, we’re going to be thorough.”

Wilf said ownership and those already with the organization will conduct interviews. He didn’t give names but among those expected to be in on the interview process include chief operating officer Andrew Miller and executive vice president Rob Brzezinski.


When the Vikings do hire a coach, it might be one with an offensive background. Minnesota’s last two coaches both were former defensive coordinators — Leslie Frazier and Zimmer — and it might be time for a change.

The Vikings have talented players on offense such as quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. That could make the job attractive to a well-regarded offensive coach even if Cousins’ future with the team is uncertain due to his huge contract.

Former NFL head coaches who could be available from the offensive side include Doug Pederson, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, Bill O’Brien and Jim Caldwell. Candidates who are offensive coordinators could include Kansas City’s Eric Bienemy, Tampa Bay’s Byron Leftwich, Buffalo’s Brian Daboll, Kellen Moore of Dallas, Green Bay’s Nathaniel Hackett, Joe Lombardi of the Los Angeles Chargers and New England’s Josh McDaniels. Bienemy was a Vikings assistant from 2006-10.

If the Vikings decide to hire another defensive coach, candidates who are former head coaches could include Brian Flores, current coordinators Todd Bowles of Tampa Bay, Dan Quinn of Dallas, Vance Joseph of Arizona, Dennis Allen of New Orleans and Raheem Morris of the Los Angeles Rams. Other current coordinators who could be in the mix are Baltimore’s Wink Martindale, Cleveland’s Joe Woods, San Francisco’s Demeco Ryans and Matt Eberflus of Indianapolis.

First, though, the Vikings must hire a general manager. Executives with other teams being touted as general manager candidates include Cleveland’s Kwesi-Adofo-Mensah, Kansas City’s Mike Borgonzi, Philadelphia’s Brandon Brown, Ed Dodds of Indianapolis and Jeff Ireland of New Orleans.

For the general manager and head coaching job, the Vikings must satisfy the Rooney Rule and interview at least one minority candidate for each position.

“We want to have the highest expectations for our GM and coach, and that includes making sure the net is cast wide,” Wilf said. “That includes diversity, that includes all kinds of backgrounds, includes all kinds of experiences.”

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