The Vikings family continues to mourn the passing of Hall of Fame defensive end Chris Doleman, who on Tuesday lost a courageous battle with brain cancer.
He is remembered by family, friends and teammates but also by media members who covered his career, including the Star Tribune's Jim Souhan, who called Doleman "much more than a tremendous football player."
Souhan, who began writing for the paper in 1990, recalled reuniting with Doleman in 1999 after Head Coach Dennis Green "signed Doleman, 37, out of retirement to bolster the team's pass rush." Souhan wrote:
When Green called in 1999, Doleman admitted he had not been training. "I haven't been doing anything but hitting the driver, the sand wedge," he said then. "I don't even walk on the golf course. I ride."
Nevertheless, Doleman returned to the Vikings, signing a one-year contract for the veteran minimum of $400,000.
During his first stint with the Vikings, Doleman often carried an expensive-looking briefcase into the locker room. Teammates teased him, saying he was carrying an apple and a newspaper. When Doleman read the Wall Street Journal, it seemed as much to send a message as to gather information. He didn't want to be seen as one-dimensional.
Souhan assured that Doleman certainly wasn't one-dimensional.
Doleman loved golf and fine wine, and that's what he wanted to talk about when I reintroduced myself in September of 1999.
He invited me to sit next to him and quizzed me on my knowledge of wine, which was minimal. He offered wine and book recommendations. As fierce as ever on the field, Doleman wanted to let me know that he knew there was more to life than football, and that he had used football to give himself a good life.
FOX Sports North tackles 5 Qs for Vikings offseason
A lot can change during an NFL offseason, and it's guaranteed that no team's roster will ever look identical from one season to another.
The Vikings are in full offseason mode, which so far has seen coaching changes and next up will include the NFL Scouting Combine, free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft.
FOX Sports North recently took a look at five questions facing Minnesota this offseason, including how the team can best free up cap space and whether or not the Vikings should extend quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Cousins is entering the final season of his initial three-year deal. In 2019, he was 307-of-444 passing for 3,603 yards, 26 touchdowns and just six interceptions. His passer rating was a career-high 107.4.
The FSN article called it an "easy answer" and opined that Cousins should be extended because he's "brought stability" to a position at which the Vikings have seen plenty of turnover:
The Vikings should give him an extension because he's proved his worth and, honestly, who else would they turn to? Minnesota could also free up cap space by back-loading the new agreement. The question is: how many years should the Vikings give Cousins?
The article looked at which free agents the Vikings will re-sign and if they will bring back safety Anthony Harris and cornerback Trae Waynes in the secondary. Also addressed were questions about the offensive line and which position Minnesota should target first in the draft.
FSN opined that it might make sense for Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman – who selected cornerbacks in the first round in 2013, 2015 and 2018 – to once again take that position early.
Giving [Head Coach Mike] Zimmer another young corner might be exactly what the Vikings need to do. Otherwise, Minnesota should address its offensive line to protect Cousins.
PFF rolls out regular-season QB recap of 2019
Analytics site Pro Football Focus earlier this week rolled out its annual QB recap from the 2019 regular season, adding one key stat for each of the 36 passers evaluated.
PFF's Steve Palazzolo placed Cousins at No. 6 overall and wrote the following:
After a slow start to the season and one of the worst games of his career in Week 2 against the Packers, Cousins turned things around to put together the best performance of his career and his second top-10 finish in PFF grading. He took to the Vikings outside zone/play action-heavy scheme, working well both inside and outside the pocket. Cousins was incredibly accurate at the intermediate (10 to 19 yards downfield) level, and he cut down on his turnover-worthy plays. The biggest improvement this season was his increase of 3.8 percentage points in positively graded throw rate, the third-highest mark in the NFL, and that's a credit to the system and supporting cast in Minnesota, even with their injury woes.
For Cousins' key stat, Palazzolo pointed out that the Vikings QB finished with the fourth-best PFF grade from a clean pocket "but ranked just 23rd under pressure" in 2019.
Finishing ahead of Cousins in the PFF rankings were (from 1-5) Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Jackson.