The Minnesota Vikings offseason has been marred with loss after the team underwent mass exodus, releasing seven starters who had become household names under Mike Zimmer’s reign as head coach.
There was even speculation that Zimmer, the third-winningest coach in Vikings history, may be out the door as he enters the final year of his current contract. But now, Zimmer’s future with the Vikings looks clear.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, who has many ties to the Vikings since he started at KFAN sports radio in 2003, tweeted that the Vikings “are finalizing a multi-year contract extension with coach Mike Zimmer, per sources.”
Zimmer, 64, has a 57-38-1 record since he took over as head coach of the Vikings in 2014. He has made the playoffs in three of his six seasons and has led the Vikings to two NFC North Division titles.
He has the 10th best winning percentage (.589) among active NFL coaches who have coached at least three seasons.
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Mike Zimmer’s Defensive Overhaul
Zimmer turned what was the league’s worst defense in 2013 into the 11th ranked defense in points allowed in his first year and has since kept the Vikings defense among the NFL’s best amid the offense’s turbulence. Zimmer’s defense has ranked in the top six in points allowed in four of his six seasons.
The Vikings defensive coaching staff under Zimmer has turned some unlikely prospects into some of the NFL’s best players at their respective positions. Danielle Hunter, who was drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft, is the youngest defensive end to reach 50 sacks in his career and continues to progress as an edge rusher. Safety Anthony Harris went undrafted in 2015 and led the NFL with six interceptions in his first year as a starter in 2019.
A defensive guru, Zimmer has raised the floor for the Vikings franchise with his defense. Zimmer has weathered the most turbulence of any coach ranked in the top 10 of CBS Sports’ coaches power rankings. While most have had the same franchise QB or one change since 2014, four different quarterbacks have led the Vikings in Zimmer’s six years with the franchise.
Vikings Appear Committed to Zimmer & New Draft Class
If and when Zimmer puts pen to paper for a new deal, it’ll usher in a new era for the Vikings after five defensive starters were released last season. Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman committed to the development of the team with their 15-man draft class they’ll be introducing this year. Extending Zimmer allows the Vikings to move forward with their plans with the Vikings youth.
Also, for the first time in quarterback Kirk Cousins’ tenure with the Vikings, he will have — somewhat — the same offensive coordinator. While Kevin Stefanski held the official title in 2019, Gary Kubiak served as an offensive advisor and was promoted to the position this offseason after Stefanksi left for the Cleveland Browns head coaching job.
The Vikings may finally be starting to see some continuity in a season that has been anything but normal given COVID-19. Extending Zimmer will surely buoy the team for several more years.
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.