Vikings assistant GM George Paton has seen his name come up a great deal over the past couple of years as rival clubs sought new general managers, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Paton remains one of the top candidates for teams that will be looking for a GM in 2019. The fact that Paton has withdrawn his name from consideration for GM jobs in the past have suggested to some that he does not want to leave Minnesota, but La Canfora says Paton is indeed open to taking over a franchise next year. Although he declined to interview with the Dolphins in the past, Miami would be a potential landing spot if the team were to make front office changes this offseason.
- Dalvin Cook had his best game as a runner this season last week against the Patriots, but the Vikings only gave him one carry in the fourth quarter. The lack of late game opportunities for Cook cause “a little frustration” within the organization, a Minnesota team source told Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said he “absolutely” plans to give Cook more carries moving forward, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, so it doesn’t seem like it’ll be much of an issue.
Before he signed with a one-year, $8MM deal with the Vikings in March, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson received a $4-5MM offer to stay with the Seahawks, as he explained to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (Twitter link). “The contract they offered me was terrible. It wasn’t what they told me when I left after the exit meetings,” Richardson said. “When my agent told me the offer, I told him, ‘They can keep that.’” Richardson has excelled for Minnesota this season: Pro Football Focus currently grades him as the league’s No. 36 interior defender, while Richardson is tied for sixth among defensive tackles with 14 quarterback hits. Given that he only inked a one-year pact, Richardson will be able to hit the free agent market again in 2019 at the age of 28.
Today’s workout updates, all courtesy of veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (on Twitter):
- G Jordan Morgan
- WR Jake Lampman
Following Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes was seen on video yelling at official Roy Ellison. The player was restrained by a team employee before being led back to the locker room.
ESPN’s Mike Rodak tweets that the veteran will not face a suspension for the incident, although ProFootballTalk.com’s Charean Williams says Hughes could still be fined. Meanwhile, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Ellison has been placed on administrative leave while the NFL continues to review the matter. Hughes accused the umpire of calling him a vulgar name, and Rapoport notes that Ellison was suspended back in 2013 following an incident with Trent Williams.
The 30-year-old Hughes is having another productive season with Buffalo, compiling 31 tackles, six sacks, and three forced fumbles through 12 games.
Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…
- Bruce Arians is apparently very focused on the Browns head coaching job. According to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss (via Twitter), the 66-year-old has “probably very little” interest in the Packers gig. The two-time AP NFL Coach of the Year winner previously said he would only consider becoming a head coach again if he were hired by Cleveland, where he was an offensive coordinator between 2001 and 2003. After serving as the Cardinals head coach for five seasons, Arians retired at the end of the 2017 campaign.
- During an appearance on WFAN660, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur was non-committal when asked about Eli Manning‘s status heading into next season. “Those are offseason discussions,” he said (via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano on Twitter). “I’m really pleased with how he’s played of late. … I can’t answer that. I’m fond of everything Eli brings to the table.” The 37-year-old Manning has been having a solid season, completing a career-high 67.9-percent of his passes for 3,263 yards, 15 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
- The Vikings will audition Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell this week, reports Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (via Twitter). The 28-year-old has won a pair of Grey Cup MVPs and two CFL Most Outstanding Player awards during his seven seasons in the league. Mitchell also won the Walter Payton Award during his time at Eastern Washington. The Vikings are currently rostering Trevor Siemian and Kyle Sloter behind Kirk Cousins.
- Former Seahawks and Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner was sentenced to eight years in prison after he pleaded no contest to attempted murder, reports TMZ Sports. The 34-year-old was accused of breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, where he then “allegedly chased her, dragged her and then smothered her in a carpet.” Browner also pleaded no contest to two counts of child endangerment, while the remaining chargers (including robbery, burglary, and false imprisonment) were dropped.
Every year, the Fritz Pollard Alliance releases a list of recommended minority head coaching candidates. This year’s edition is nearly double in size and features the likes of Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores and Cowboys defensive backs coach/defensive passing game coordinator Kris Richard, as Mike Jones of USA Today writes.
Here’s the complete list of suggested candidates:
- Keith Armstrong (Falcons special teams coordinator)
- Teryl Austin (Former Bengals defensive coordinator)
- Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs offensive coordinator)
- Jim Caldwell (former Lions and Colts head coach)
- George Edwards (Vikings defensive coordinator)
- Brian Flores (Patriots linebackers coach)
- Leslie Frazier (Bills defensive coordinator)
- Raheem Morris (Falcons assistant head coach/wide receivers coach)
- Hue Jackson (special assistant to the head coach of the Bengals; former Browns head coach)
- Kris Richard (Cowboys defensive backs coach/defensive passing game coordinator)
- Duce Staley (Eagles assistant head coach/running backs coach)
Flores, the de facto defensive coordinator of the Patriots, figures to be a hot coaching candidate this year. The same goes for Bieniemy, who is helping to guide one of the league’s most dangerous offenses.
Others on this list, such as Jackson and Austin, seem unlikely to garner real consideration for head coaching positions this offseason. The Browns turned the corner after dumping Jackson and appointing Gregg Williams as the team’s interim head coach, which isn’t a great endorsement for the offensive guru. Meanwhile, the Bengals hired Austin in January but fired him earlier this month as his defense was one of the lowest ranked in the NFL.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- By going over the 100-catch mark on Sunday, Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen triggered an escalator in his contract, tweets Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Thielen, who inked an incredibly team-friendly extension last spring, will now see his 2019 base salary increase from $3.85MM to $5.85MM. If he tops 90 receptions in 2019, Thielen will boost his 2020 salary from $5.35MM to $7.35MM.
Here are Tuesday’s practice squad decisions:
- Signed: WR Jalen Tolliver
- Cut: Vincent Valentine
- Signed: DL Caushaud Lyons, TE Tim Semisch, T Dan Skipper
- Placed on PS-IR: OT Andreas Knappe
New York Giants
- Signed: TE Hakeem Valles
San Francisco 49ers
The Vikings placed safety Andrew Sendejo on injured reserve, according to a team announcement. In a related move, rookie cornerback Craig James was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.
Sendejo, 31, suffered a groin injury in Week 5 and has been out of action ever since. It may be coincidental, but the Vikings’ defense has been stronger since turning to reserves Anthony Harris, George Iloka, and Jayron Kearse in his stead. In the first five weeks of the season, the Vikings surrendered 26.2 points per contest. Since then, they’ve allowed 20.3 points per game and lost only to the Saints and Bears, two of the NFC’s best teams.
Sendejo’s 2018 season ends with 27 total tackles and one pass deflection in five games. He faces an uncertain future next year as his $5.5MM salary for 2019 is completely non-guaranteed.
James, a UDFA who attended the University of Minnesota and Southern Illinois, has been with the Vikings’ practice squad for the last six weeks.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Vikings received some excellent news on Monday when an MRI revealed cornerback Xavier Rhodes suffered a “very, very mild” hamstring injury, head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters, including Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). While Minnesota does have depth in its secondary (Mackensie Alexander, Holton Hill), the club had already lost rookie first-round corner Mike Hughes for the season. And missing Rhodes, who was named All-Pro in 2017, for any amount of time would have been devastating. After beating the Packers on Sunday night, the Vikings now have a 63% chance of earning a postseason berth, per FiveThirtyEight.com.
- Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered two knee injuries and an ankle injury against the Vikings last night, but there is still hope he’ll be able to play against the Cardinals in Week 13, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. After being defeated by Minnesota, Green Bay will almost surely need to win out to have any chance at making the playoffs, and losing Bakhtiari certainly wouldn’t help matters. Arguably the league’s best pass-blocking tackle, Bakhtiari missed six games over his first five seasons in the NFL. If Bakhtiari’s not able to play against Arizona, former second-round pick Jason Spriggs would take over on Aaron Rodgers‘ blindside.