Purple Rumor Mill: Mike Zimmer’s Return, Jared Allen, Harrison Smith’s Final Home Game?

Mike Zimmer might
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

VikingsTerritory’s Purple Rumor Mill is a two-day chronicle each week. All the week’s rumors are lassoed and plopped in two spots articles on Saturday and Sunday for review. Today is the December 31st edition.

Purple Rumor Mill: Mike Zimmer’s Return, Jared Allen, Harrison Smith’s Final Home Game?

Remember — rumors are rumors. What you read on weekends in these pieces is what the world is talking about pertaining to the Vikings, not necessarily items that will come to fruition.

Here’s the second batch of the week. Yesterday’s can be read here.

Rumor: Mike Zimmer will return to the NFL, likely as a defensive coordinator.

Mike Zimmer Reemerges
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Zimmer hasn’t worked in the NFL since Week 18 of 2021, but he still has the motivation to coach in the pros. And based on his interview this week with NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, it sure sounds like Zimmer could be back in the saddle soon, perhaps as a defensive coordinator.

“The biggest thing, Tom, is I love to teach. I love to coach. When I was a head coach, I was always trying to teach and get the players better. Also wanted to teach them about the game of football, not just about their position,” Zimmer told Pelissero on Tuesday in a rare interview.

If he’s truly interested, Zimmer will likely fetch a defensive coordinator job this offseason.

Zimmer continued, “So many guys come in, and they just want to know about a defense on a particular play but not as much as how it helps other players around them be better. So, I think it’s just something that’s in your blood. My dad was a high school coach for a long, long time.”

Keep an eye on the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Commanders, among other teams, for Zimmer’s services over the next few months.

“I love being around the players. I love the challenge of trying to make an organization better and trying to get them where we need to go,” Zimmer concluded. That sounds like a man with the itch.

Rumor: Jared Allen, now a four-time Hall of Fame finalist, might actually get in this time.

jared allen
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Fifteen players were announced as Hall of Fame finalists, and normally Allen among the bunch would be a joyous development. But now it’s a tradition that hasn’t ended happily three times prior.

Allen ranks 16th in NFL history in sacks with 136 – more than Carl Eller, Rickey Jackson, Charley Haley, Andre Tippett, etc. All those men, besides Allen, are in the Hall of Fame.

Based on the numbers, Allen’s pass-rushing production should automate his entry into the Hall of Fame sooner than later. He shouldn’t be a “fringe” candidate, waiting on multiple lists for years to don a gold jacket. Bryant Young from the San Francisco 49ers, who got the call in 2022, retired in 2007. If Allen must follow in his footsteps — a godforsaken delay — he’d earn HOF credentialing in 2030 or so. That’s too far away.

So, we’ll believe it when we see it on his HOF entry, although it should be a no-brainer.

Rumor: Sunday night’s Vikings-Packers game could be Harrison Smith’s final home game as a Viking.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Smith took a paycut to remain with the 2023 Vikings. He’s under contract in Minnesota for a couple of more seasons. Theoretically, he could take another pay reduction and stick around for 2024.

Yet, there aren’t too many 35-year-old safeties in the sport (Smith’s age if he stays for next season).

With retirement in play or perhaps venturing to another team, yes, the Vikings’ New Year’s Eve game versus Green Bay could be Smith’s final home game with the club. Of course, folks could’ve said that last season, too, so stay tuned.


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Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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