Tagged in: Mike Zimmer

Minnesota Vikings DE Danielle Hunter out for season with torn pectoral muscle

An MRI revealed that Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter tore a pectoral muscle on Sunday and will miss the remainder of the campaign, coach Mike Zimmer announced Monday.

Hunter suffered what was initially classified as a shoulder injury in the second quarter of Minnesota’s 20-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. He was downgraded from questionable to out at the beginning of the third quarter and was not seen on the sideline in the second half.

Hunter, 27, is tied for 10th in the NFL with six sacks through seven games and played at least 83% of the defensive snaps in each of Minnesota’s first six matches before its Week 8 game with Dallas.

“I don’t think you replace him,” Zimmer said. “He’s one of a kind. It’s unfortunate that we’re going to miss the next half of the season with him, and all of last year. So, he’s a great kid and he’ll do a good job in his rehab and he’ll be ready to go.”

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Hunter missed the 2020 season with a neck injury that required him to have surgery last year.

He missed the majority of Minnesota’s offseason program while rehabbing his neck before being cleared to return to practice in August.

“I can’t imagine. I really can’t imagine what he’s going through,” Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen stated. “He rehabbed his neck to get back strong and then he comes back and something like this happens to him.

It can be very frustrating, and I know that he’s frustrated right now. But he’s got to just pick his head up and fight back just like he did last year, and it’s devastating for our football team losing one of our star players. It really hurts.”

The Vikings reworked Hunter’s contract ahead of mandatory minicamp to give the defensive end $5.6 million of his $12.15 million 2021 base salary as a signing bonus. The restructure also called for an $18 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2022 league year.

Considering the nature of Hunter’s season-ending injury, it’s not likely the Vikings will pick up his option, thus foreshadowing a reworked deal or release next March.

Hunter had 54.5 sacks through his first five NFL seasons, becoming the fastest player ever to reach 50 sacks after notching double-digit-sack seasons in 2018 and 2019 when he earned back-to-back Pro Bowl honors.

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Minnesota Vikings, safety Xavier Woods reach 1-year deal

The Minnesota Vikings agreed to a contract with free-agent safety Xavier Woods, the team revealed.

Terms were not disclosed but a source confirmed to ESPN on Saturday that it’s a one-year, $2.25 million deal that contains $1.75 million guaranteed.

The 25-year-old Woods, who developed into a versatile safety with the ability to cover the slot over his first four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, is expected to fill the Vikings’ opening at free safety opposite Harrison Smith after Anthony Harris’ departure in free agency.

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After concluding the season ranked 29th in points allowed and 27th in yards allowed, Minnesota has focused its efforts on the defensive side.

In addition to Woods, the Vikings have acquired only defensive players in free agency — defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, linebacker Nick Vigil and cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander as head coach Mike Zimmer looks to revamp a unit that allowed 29.7 points per game in 2020 (third-worst in the NFL).

A sixth-round draft pick in 2017, Woods became a full-time starter in his second season with the Cowboys and started his last 44 matches, missing four games over three seasons because of injury.

Heading into 2020, he was viewed as a cornerstone piece to the Cowboys’ secondary, but he struggled despite finishing second on the team with 72 tackles. He had just two tackles for loss, did not record a sack and had just two passes defended while not intercepting a pass for the first time in his career.

Woods can play both safety spots and also played as a nickel cornerback as a rookie.

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Vikings GM Rick Spielman agree to multi year extension

The Vikings have locked up Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer for the next four campaigns.

The team informed Monday the General Manager’s multiyear contract extension is done. Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press reports that Spielman’s extension runs concurrent with that of coach Mike Zimmer, who signed his multiyear year two weeks ago.

That means both are signed through the 2023 season.

“It’s great,” Zimmer said Monday on a conference call, via Tomasson. “Rick’s done a phenomenal job with me here, and I think it’s a good team. I think . . . ownership, the coaching staff, the management, I think all that stuff is really good, and it’s been really good for all of us.”

Spielman and Zimmer both were entering the final year of their contracts. “Wanted to start off by thanking the Wilf family,” Spielman said in conference call. “My family and I have been blessed for 15 years to be a part of this organization and very excited about the future and what lies ahead for us.”

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Spielman became the Vikings’ General Manager in 2012, six years after arriving in Minnesota as vice president of player personnel.

The team has made the postseason four of his eight seasons as G.M. and reached the NFC Championship Game in the 2017 season.

Minnesota ranks ninth in the NFL with a .570 winning percentage (72-54-2) during that eight-season span.

“We appreciate Rick’s work ethic, diligence and commitment to the Vikings,” Vikings owner/chairman Zygi Wilf said in a statement. “We continue to have the utmost confidence in him as we work to assemble championship-caliber teams to reach our ultimate goal of winning a world championship.”

During the 2020 NFL draft, Spielman turned 12 picks into a seven-round NFL-record 15 selections with two additional picks gained for the 2021 NFL draft through trades. The Vikings’ 2020 class is the largest since the NFL condensed its annual draft to seven rounds in 1994.

It also marked Minnesota’s first 15-member class since 1985, tying for the largest overall draft class since 1976, when the team added 17 players over 17 rounds.

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Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer agrees to multi year contract extension

Mike Zimmer has agreed to a multi-year contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. The 64-year-old coach was entering the final year of his current contract with the club. Including the playoffs, Zimmer has compiled a 59-41-1 record during his first six campaigns with the franchise.

The Vikings have made the playoffs three times under Zimmer that included a trip to the NFL title game in 2017. In 2019, after just falling short of the postseason in 2018, the Vikings went 10-6 during the regular season before upsetting the Saints in the wild card round of the NFC playoffs.

Minnesota would then fall to the eventual NFC champion 49ers in the divisional round.  Zimmer is already the third-winningest coach in Vikings history, behind Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant and Dennis Green. He told Pelissero last summer that he’s feeling good, and that he doesn’t see any reason he can’t coach until he’s 70.

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Before coming to Minnesota, Zimmer spent 20 seasons as an NFL assistant that included 14 seasons as a defensive coordinator. After 15 seasons in the college ranks, Zimmer landed his first NFL job in 1994, serving as an assistant on the Cowboys’ defensive staff. The next season, as the team’s defensive backs coach, Zimmer would coach a secondary that recorded five interceptions during Dallas’ triumphs over Green Bay and Pittsburgh in the NFC playoffs.

In Super Bowl XXX, one of his players — cornerback Larry Brown — took home MVP honors following the Cowboys’ 27-17 victory over the Steelers. 

Zimmer spent seven seasons as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator (2000-06) and one season as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator (2007) before joining Marvin Lewis’ staff in Cincinnati in 2008.

Over the next six seasons, Zimmer helped the Bengals’ defense turn into one of the NFL’s better units. Cincinnati’s defense would help the Bengals capture AFC North division titles in 2009 and in 2013.  In 2015, his second season as the Vikings’ coach, Zimmer directed Minnesota to its first division title since 2009.

The Vikings following that season up with three more winning seasons under Zimmer, who it appears will remain in Minnesota for the foreseeable future. 

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