The Vikings search for a new general manager and head coach is underway, and plenty of intrigue exists around each position.
Minnesota is among six teams (so far) looking to fill a head coaching vacancy, and Chad Graff of The Athletic said the Vikings job is "the most attractive one on the market." Graff wrote:
Because of their GM search, the Vikings may have to take more time than other organizations to sign a coach. They may have a roster that needs change and major questions at some of the most important positions. But compared to the five other vacancies, the Vikings job offers the most opportunity, which should help them get whichever candidate they like best.
The Bears, Broncos, Dolphins, Giants and Jaguars are also looking for new coaches. There's a chance the Raiders, Seahawks and Texans join them on the carousel. But either way, the Vikings can take comfort in the attractive nature of their job.
Graff pointed out that the Broncos and Dolphins both have talented rosters but also have "serious questions" at the quarterback position.
The Bears have a quarterback of their future (they hope), but he struggled as a rookie, they don't have a first-round pick, they have dealt with dysfunction in leadership and there are questions about the resources the staff is given. The Jaguars have their quarterback of the future, but the rest of the operation is such a mess that fans dressed up as clowns for the final home game to mock the team's owner.
The Vikings, meanwhile, can offer not just a talented roster headlined by 22-year-old wide receiver Justin Jefferson, but perhaps as important for a head coach, they can offer stability. Mike Zimmer got eight years on the job despite missing the playoffs in three of the final four. He had complete autonomy over his staff, which coaches value. Ownership didn't meddle in his duties.
Graff also emphasized the word "resources" for whomever takes the helm in Minnesota.
After questions at the start of the last decade about whether the Vikings would remain in Minnesota, the Wilfs have poured money into upgrading every aspect of the franchise's facilities.
Four years ago, they unveiled their new practice facility in Eagan that is among the nicest in the NFL. It might surprise you to learn how few teams in the league have invested in a state-of-the-art headquarters, something that is slowly starting to change with teams like the Vikings and Cowboys trying to build up the entire area around their facility. Regardless, the new coach would have the benefit of the new setup there. Then there's the home stadium, which is easily among the best.
PFF Ranks NFL General Manager Vacancies
Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf told media members Monday afternoon that the goal is to first hire a general manager and then involve that individual while hiring the head coach.
Minnesota isn't the only team seeking to fill a GM spot, either; the Bears and Giants also are on the hunt.
Analytics site Pro Football Focus this week ranked all three vacancies. PFF's Michael Renner pointed out significant benefits to each situation but did rank the Vikings No. 3 on the list. He wrote:
The Giants and Vikings are currently over the cap for 2022. The deciding factor between the two teams for any potential candidate is draft capital and talent on rookie deals. For the Vikings, that consists of Justin Jefferson and Christian Darrisaw and a whole lot of unproven picks from recent drafts.
Renner pointed out that some of Minnesota's key defensive players, including Eric Kendricks and Harrison Smith, are "on the wrong side of 30" and noted Danielle Hunter's recent battle with injuries. The offense has talent for days, but a question remains there, too.
Whoever takes this job will have their tenure defined by how they handle quarterback Kirk Cousins. The veteran quarterback is coming off a career year, earning the fifth-best PFF passing grade in the NFL. The problem is that he's being paid even more than that ranking. […] Can you win a Super Bowl with a quarterback like him being paid top dollar? That's a decision the new GM will have to make. If they don't think so, trading him ASAP is the only move, as this team is desperate for the draft picks and cap space.
Nwangwu makes NFL.com's All-Pro team
Vikings rookie Kene Nwangwu certainly made a significant impact in his first season.
The former Cyclones standout didn't get a ton of reps at running back, but the Vikings did use Nwangwu as a kickoff returner, and it paid off.
NFL.com's Nick Shook rolled out his All-Pro roster for the 2021 season, and he slated Nwangwu in the kick returner slot.
Nwangwu doesn't even qualify for the kick return rankings because of a lack of total return attempts this season, but he's certainly made the most of his opportunities. The Iowa State running back, who made his way to Minnesota via a fourth-round pick, has been destructive in the return game, taking two kicks back for touchdowns this season to lead the league in the category. He's averaging 33.2 yards per return attempt despite only fielding 18 kicks on the year. Perhaps Minnesota will make him its permanent returner; after all, he's been rather productive when sent out to field kicks.
This Vikings writer was surprised to not see Justin Jefferson on the list, but Shook gave the three receiver spots to Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams and Ja'Marr Chase, Jefferson's former LSU teammate.