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Why COVID may be the final nail in Zimmer’s tenure in Minnesota

Hear me out...

Let’s take a trip, shall we? Don’t worry, you needn’t grab your COVID mask (or for those of you who don’t believe in that sort of thing, your ‘The Earth is 5,000 years old’ trucker hat) for this one as you’ll simply be following my reasoning on this one (actually for those of you who don’t believe in masks, maybe you should sit this one out).

First, as many of you who recognize my name/content know, I’m not a big fan of current and (if I’m right) soon-to-be-former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been okay… But that’s about it.

For those that don’t recall, you can take my word or check with William Hill Sportsbook IL and see that the Vikings have been a mostly mediocre every-other season playoff team despite Zimmer being handed every single thing a head coach could ever want.

Based on the title here, I’m sure you’re thinking that I’m somehow blaming Zimmer on or for 2020 and the impact COVID had. I’m not. Instead, I’m looking at the impact that COVID will have on the 2021 salary cap and what that’ll mean for the Vikings and the rest of the league.

Namely, that the Vikings’ predicted 2021 bounce back (which many thought would happen by virtue of Zimmer’s defense getting healthier) won’t happen as the team will have to cut bait with a good chunk of veterans. Not only that, but because of the COVID cap situation teams that have salary cap space will be able to essentially create the NFL version of a superteam.

Imagine what the Colts could do? Or more aptly (for this article) a team like the Rams just did by adding Matthew Stafford? Or veterans wanting to join the Bucs to get a chance at a ring with Brady and company?

Not only will the Vikings not be as improved (or improved at all) on defense because of their financial situation, they’ll also have a ton of teams to contend with in the NFC for a playoff spot.

Despite his recent extension, it was clear after right-hand man George Edwards was fired that the ownership of the Vikings expected fast improvement by Zimmer and company. He bought time with the massive 15-pick haul he helped oversee in 2020, and more with the COVID/injury related issues the team faced last season.

While I am still pointing to COVID as a culprit here, I doubt that’ll matter much to an ownership group that has given Zimmer a lot of money, support and patience for the “success” of getting embarrassed in the playoffs every other season.

It’ll be hard to get out of this salary cap quagmire even with Cousins potentially restructuring as Danielle Hunter needs a massive pay increase, and I’d be surprised if Zimmer would okay the team moving on from Anthony Barr.

I could be wrong, and I would love to be, but I just don’t see any way around this especially as the team has stuck continuity at offensive coordinator (which means we can’t expect for some young mastermind to come on and convince Zimmer to stop being so risk averse).

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Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson started back in 2015 & in 2019, and purchased before the 2017-18 season , used to write for and is the host of the ’Morning Joes’ & ‘About the Labor’ Podcasts, as well. Follow on Twitter: @vtPTSD

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5 days ago


5 days ago

Worst article I’ve ever read. Not surprised though, it was written by a complete moron.

5 days ago

Why would you not want Zimmer ? Did you see the way those defensive rookies developed last season ? No other coach in Vikings history has developed players like Zimmer does. He took a third string quarterback to the NFCCG. Nobody else has ever taken a third string quarterback to the NFCCG. Look at every other team Case Keemun has ever quarterbacked. Ridiculous. . When you call someone and tell them Everyone seems to be driving backwards on a freeway, usually, they’re not the ones driving backwards 

5 days ago
3 days ago

The NFL has already announced that the minimum cap will be $180 million instead of $175 million. They’ve got three weeks to finalize the new TV contracts in time to add several more millions of dollars to the cap, with a range of $185-188 million gaining steam as a consensus end point, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see it a bit higher still.

OTC’s current cap projection is $180.5 million, with us over the cap by ~$9.5 million. If the cap ends up at even just $185 million, cutting Kyle Rudolph ALONE will bring us in just under the cap. To sign our draft class (~$5 million), keep an emergency fund for the season (~$5 million), re-sign Harris (~$5 million in 2021 cap terms, maybe double that in 2022) and maybe one mid-tier free agent like Everson Griffen, Nick Easton or one of the CB3’s or rotational 3-tech DT’s out there (~$3-5 million), we need to find roughly $20 million. Some combination of extensions to Smith (~$5 million in cap savings in 2021), Reiff (~$5 million), Hunter (~$10 million), Cousins (~$10 million) and/or even Shamar Stephen (~$3 million) would free up the necessary cap space this year.

Hell, if the team follows Dustin Baker’s advice and just treats Irv Smith as our WR3 and passes on spending anything more than a 4th rounder on the position, we could even find a way to hold onto Rudolph AND get him more targets in the passing game. Well, we could! But we won’t. Rudy’s gone. Sniff, sniff.

For any other positions that absolutely have to be filled, we have three picks on Days 1 and 2 of the draft, maybe four 4th rounders, and five picks after that.

Our cap position this year is not nearly as dire as many fans make it out to be, so the kind of roster Armageddon that you describe, Joe, is NOT going to be necessary, unless Spielman feels the need to break the bank for a Thuney or a Scherff, which would be foolish, as much as we need improvement at guard. Better a less expensive option like Feiler or Easton, if you ask me. But come down off of the ledge!

EJ Fletcher
EJ Fletcher
3 days ago

This is a garbage article. Very poorly written and lacking focus and continuity. What happened to editors?

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