The Vikings have finalized a new deal with Rick Spielman that will extend the general manager’s partnership with coach Mike Zimmer.
The deal, which comes just over a week after the Vikings finalized a new deal with Zimmer through the 2023 season. Spielman and Zimmer both had contracts set to expire after 2020; Spielman’s deal is believed to also go through that season, according to an NFL source.
The partnership between the general manager and coach enters its seventh season as the Vikings look to remake a defense that will have at least four new starters in 2020. Spielman presided over a 15-player draft class — the largest in the NFL’s modern draft era — this spring, after the Vikings parted ways with Linval Joseph, Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes and Everson Griffen following the 2019 season.
Spielman joined the Vikings as the vice president of player personnel in 2006, got full control of the roster when he became the GM in 2012 and hired Zimmer in 2014 after the team fired Leslie Frazier following the 2013 season. In his eight seasons as Vikings GM, the team has gone to the playoffs four times, posting a 2-4 postseason record in that time. The Vikings are 3-6 in six playoff trips since Spielman joined the team in 2006.
"With Rick’s and Coach Zimmer’s leadership in place, we are in a great position to continue to compete for a Super Bowl,” team president Mark Wilf said in a news release.
Among current NFL GMs, only five — the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones, the Bengals’ Mike Brown, the Patriots’ Bill Belichick, the Steelers’ Kevin Colbert and the Saints’ Mickey Loomis — have been with their teams longer than Spielman has been with the Vikings. Three others — the Falcons’ Thomas Dimitroff, the Seahawks’ John Schneider and the Eagles’ Howie Roseman — have held the GM title longer than Spielman has.
NFL.com first reported the news of Spielman’s contract extension Sunday. The Vikings had deals with both Zimmer and Spielman that expired after the 2019 season, before the team gave both the coach and GM one-year extensions before 2019. In the midst of rumors about the tandem’s job security before the team’s wild-card playoff game against the Saints, Vikings ownership released a statement saying the team had “every intent” of keeping the duo together for the foreseeable future.
Sources told the Star Tribune throughout the offseason that progress had been quiet on new deals for both Zimmer and Spielman, but when the team worked out a deal with the coach just before the start of training camp, a new deal for Spielman seemed imminent. With the general manager set to speak to reporters for the first time in training camp on Monday, the Vikings finalized the deal over the weekend, in a widely expected move that hardly registered as a surprise given the way the team has prized continuity at many of its high-profile spots this offseason.
After Kevin Stefanski left to become the coach of the Browns, the Vikings quickly offered the offensive coordinator job to Gary Kubiak with the aim of keeping the team’s offense together. Zimmer chose to replace defensive coordinator George Edwards by giving co-coordinator titles to his son Adam (the Vikings linebackers coach) and defensive line coach Andre Patterson, whose working relationship with Zimmer dates to the late 1980s. The Vikings gave quarterback Kirk Cousins a new three-year extension on March 16, dealing Stefon Diggs to Buffalo hours later when the frustrated receiver tweeted, “It’s time for a new beginning” following Cousins’ deal.
The next act of Spielman’s partnership with Zimmer will hinge on their ability to identify and develop young talent for a defense that’s been one of the NFL’s best and has helped form the Vikings’ identity for the past six years. First-round pick Jeff Gladney was the fifth cornerback and sixth defensive back Spielman has selected in the first two rounds since 2012. The Vikings will also trust their homegrown talent to contribute along the defensive line, with Griffen still on the free-agent market and nose tackle Michael Pierce — the team’s most significant free-agent addition of the offseason — having opted out of playing in 2020.