The Minnesota Vikings‘ request to interview Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero has yet to be approved by the Broncos, which has led to some scrutiny by one of the league’s most respected insiders.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported on February 4 that the Vikings’ request, reported on February 3, has still been unanswered, meanwhile, Denver is lining up interviews to fill Ejiro’s spot — requesting interviews with Brian Flores and Sean Desai.
“The Vikings still have not been given permission to interview Broncos DC Ejiro Evero, who remains the top target for their DC job. Evero spoke with new Broncos coach Sean Payton and, meanwhile, Denver’s lineup interviews with DC candidates. Seems… a little uneven,” Breer tweeted.
Ejiro Evero Has Defensive Coordiantor Search in Limbo
Breer added that he sees Evero as Minnesota’s favorite defensive coordinator candidate. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert attributed the lag in hiring a new coordinator to wait and seeing what may happen to Evero.
“The reason the Vikings’ search for a defensive coordinator has been quiet lately is that, per sources, they’re waiting to see if they can get an interview with the Denver Broncos’ Ejiro Evero,” Seifert tweeted. “At the moment, he’s a candidate for the head coach job in Indianapolis and Arizona.”
Evero is also a candidate for the Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts head coach positions. Sean Payton and Evero likely discussed his future in a meeting this week, but the Broncos have yet to dismiss him as coordinator, signaling he’s still holding out for the head coach positions.
If Evero does not land a head coaching job, Denver would be inclined to keep him, according to Mile High Sports’ lead Broncos reporter Cody Roark.
“To my understanding, #Broncos request to interview Brian Flores for DC is Sean Payton being proactive in the event Ejiro Evero gets offered #Colts or Cardinals job,” Roark tweeted. “Have to have contingencies in place, but Evero is very well wanted back.”
While Evero and Flores waver waiting on their head coaching opportunities, Desai withdrew his name from consideration for the Vikings defensive coordinator position to “focus solely” on the Broncos.
Desai was likely the third option behind Evero and Flores for the role in Minnesota.
There’s a scenario that could play out where Evero lands with the Colts, Flores takes the Cardinals job and Desai fills the defensive coordinator role in Denver — leaving Minnesota’s only option internal candidate Mike Pettine.
Vikings Defense Will Need a Transformational Teacher to Develop Young Talent
The Vikings defense has atrophied since its peak as the league’s top unit in 2017. While veterans have aged out, Minnesota has failed to reload the unit through the draft.
Of 56 draft picks since 2018, only four players have become high-impact contributors — all on offense (Brian O’Neill, Christian Darrisaw, K.J. Osborn and Justin Jefferson). Seven players in that span are currently starters, with the only defensive starter being safety Cam Bynum.
Minnesota has instead opted to reload the defense every year with budget veteran signings due to the team’s cap constraints. The 2023 Vikings are again hamstrung financially, currently $23.4 million over the salary cap.
Minnesota has to replace at least five starters and up to nine starters depending on what veteran talent the front office decides to cut to get under the cap.
The new defensive coordinator will have their work cut out for them in rebuilding the unit. But the highest priority should be someone who can develop talent, especially in the secondary where the Vikings invested heavily in the 2022 draft in safety Lewis Cine (first round, No. 32 overall) and cornerbacks Andrew Booth Jr. (second round, No. 42) and Akayleb Evans (fourth round, No. 118).