Vikings coaching staff takes shape; a decision needs to be made on DE Hunter – SKOR North

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. The Vikings won 20-7. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Kevin O’Connell won’t officially become the Vikings’ head coach until after the Rams take on the Bengals in the Super Bowl on Sunday, but that hasn’t stopped the Los Angeles offensive coordinator from starting to build his team. assistant coaches.

The staff will include a veteran defensive coordinator in Ed Donatell, who has reportedly accepted the job and will be officially appointed to the position next week. It could happen at the same time as the Vikings are holding a press conference introducing O’Connell as a replacement for Mike Zimmer.

Donatell, 65, has been an NFL assistant for 31 years, including 10 as a defensive coordinator with Green Bay (2000-03), Atlanta (2004-06) and Denver (2019-21). The Broncos finished third in the NFL this season in points allowed (18.9 per game) and eighth in yards (326.1 per game). Donatell was expected to join the Seattle Seahawks as a senior defensive consultant before this opportunity with the Vikings presented itself.

New Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has known Donatell from their time in San Francisco. Adofo-Mensah was the director of football research and development for the 49ers, while Donatell was the defensive backs coach in 2013 and 2014.

Longtime defensive assistant and NFL coordinator Vic Fangio had Donatell on his team before he was fired as Broncos coach last season. Fangio and Donatell led Denver 3-4 and the Vikings could move to a 3-4 defense for the first time since 1985.

Given that the Vikings defense needs a lot of work after a disappointing 2021 under Zimmer, this would be as good as any to hit the reset button. Linebacker Anthony Barr will almost certainly leave as a free agent and there are decisions to be made regarding veterans such as center linebacker Eric Kendricks and safety Harrison Smith.

The biggest question will be what will happen with Danielle Hunter? The talented defensive end could adapt to a 3-4 scheme, but would he want to? There’s also the matter of longtime Hunter coach Andre Patterson, who reportedly left the Vikings on Thursday to become the Giants’ defensive line coach. Hunter and Patterson are close, and Hunter is unlikely to be happy with Patterson’s departure.

The most important topic, of course, is money. Hunter’s 2022 salary cap is expected to be $26.1 million, with an $18 million bonus due on the fifth day of the league year in March. This can be converted into a signing bonus and spread over the remaining years of the restructured five-year contract he agreed to last June.

Hunter could get another reworked contract, or the Vikings could look to leave him. Ideally, Hunter stays in Minnesota, but it will be interesting to see what kind of relationship exists between the two-time Pro Bowl selection and the Vikings’ new brass.

Hunter, 27, had back-to-back 14.5 sack seasons in 2018 and 2019 but missed all of 2020 after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. He played in seven games and had six sacks in 2021 before suffering a torn pectoral muscle against the Cowboys.

One wonders if Hunter’s injury troubles will cause the Vikings to rethink his future in Minnesota?

  • The Vikings are reportedly close to hiring former Denver Broncos Pro Bowl guard Chris Kuper as their offensive line coach, according to NFL reporter Aaron Wilson. Kuper was a fifth-round pick of the Broncos in 2006 from North Dakota and retired after the 2013 season. He was on the Miami Dolphins coaching staff and served as the assistant offensive line coach Broncos over the past three seasons. Another Broncos assistant, Curtis Modkins, is expected to be named Vikings running backs coach and running game coordinator.
  • Sachin Gupta, executive vice president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves, made no moves before the NBA’s trade deadline on Tuesday afternoon. Center Montrezl Harrell was linked to Wolves in trade rumors, but Washington ended up sending him to Charlotte, which Wolves will host on Tuesday. By the way, Gupta has still not been appointed as Wolves’ president of basketball operations.
  • Gersson Rosas, who held Wolves’ POBO title until he was fired last September, has reportedly been hired as a consultant by the New York Knicks. That means the last two men to run Wolves’ basketball operations, Tom Thibodeau and Rosas, are now colleagues at Madison Square Garden.
  • The Ottawa Senators are interested in Wild winger Kevin Fiala, according to Ottawa radio host and former NHL executive Shawn Simpson. While Wild general manager Bill Guerin certainly won’t part ways with Fiala before the NHL trade deadline on March 21, it’s very possible he’ll consider moving the free agent with compensation this summer. . Fiala is expected to be a UFA after the 2022-23 season and is currently playing on a one-year, $5.1 million contract. The Wild will have salary cap issues over the next three seasons, so a big name will likely have to be moved for prospects.
  • Three Gophers men’s hockey players helped the U.S. Olympic team to an 8-0 win over China in their opener Thursday in Beijing. Ben Meyers had a goal and two assists and Matthew Knies and Brock Faber each had an assist. The United States will face Canada in its next game at 10:10 p.m. Friday.
  • Forget spring training, it seems more unlikely the day Major League Baseball’s season will start on time as owners continue to lock players out. If there’s any good news for baseball fans in Minnesota, it’s that the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate, the St. Paul Saints, will go on sale for a game on Feb. 26. There will be 75 home games this season at CHS Field with the home opener scheduled for April 12 against Indianapolis. Players on the Twins’ 40-man roster will not be eligible to participate, if the lockdown is still in effect.
  • The owners would make a proposal to the MLB Players Association on Saturday when the teams meet in New York for the fifth time since commissioner Rob Manfred locked players out in early December. Don’t hold your breath.