The Vikings will be looking for a new defensive backs coach for the second year in a row, after Daronte Jones was named the defensive coordinator at LSU on Tuesday.
Players and coaches praised the job Jones did after replacing Jerry Gray in 2020, leading a secondary with four rookies in the midst of a pandemic that wiped out the NFL's offseason program.
"He's been earning his money this year," safety Harrison Smith said in December. "He does a really good job of communicating exactly what we need to get done and things that we can expect while also not overloading the group with things that can bog you down. There can be a balance there based on just experience levels. He's been doing a great job of starting at the fundamentals and expanding from there and giving us enough information to grow without handicapping us."
Jones is close with LSU wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph from their time working together at Nicholls State. He'd worked with former Tigers defensive coordinator Dave Aranda for one year at Wisconsin, and LSU coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement that "every person we spoke with raved about [Jones'] knowledge and passion for the game.
"He's going to bring tremendous energy to our defense and he will put our players in position to make plays, no matter the situation or scheme," Orgeron said.
With Jones leaving, the Vikings now have four openings on their coaching staff, following the retirement of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and the team's decision not to bring back special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf or strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama.
Assistant defensive backs coach Roy Anderson remains on the staff, and could get a shot at the full-time job. Coach Mike Zimmer could also delve into the network of defensive coaches he's met during his 27 NFL seasons, or look at bringing back a former player like Terence Newman, his longtime pupil who went from playing for the Vikings in 2017 to coaching their nickel corners in 2018.