Vikings’ Dennison to serve as senior offensive advisor, Rauscher named offensive line coach

The Minnesota Vikings have named Phil Rauscher as offensive line coach and added Ben Steele as the team’s assistant offensive line Coach.  Due to the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols and his reported refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, former offensive line coach Rick Dennison will serve as senior offensive advisor, the team announced on Tuesday.

According to the league, Tier 1 staff members, which includes coaches, are expected to get vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical reason not to do so. Without being vaccinated, coaches will not be able to interact with players on the field or anywhere else at a team’s facility.

Therefore, without the vaccine, it would be difficult for Dennison to his job.

Rauscher is in his second season with the Vikings and his seventh NFL season. Prior to joining the Vikings, Rauscher served as the offensive line coach for the Washington Football Team after being promoted from assistant offensive line coach during the 2019 season.

Steele joins the Vikings staff in his 8th NFL season and his 14th season of coaching overall. His connections with the Vikings date back to his early playing career when he went to training camp with the club in 2003 and 2004. Steele most recently coached in Atlanta, overseeing tight ends in 2020 and spending 2019 as an offensive assistant.  

Vikings’ Dennison not fired, talks still ongoing with team

Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Rick Dennison is still with the team after reports surfaced that he was dismissed due to his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Friday, the Vikings released a statement, and according to the team, talks are still ongoing with Dennison.

“The Vikings continue to hold discussions with Offensive Line Coach Rick Dennison regarding the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols for training camp and preseason games,” the team said in a statement,” team said. “At this time, Coach Dennison does not have an exemption to the vaccination requirements of those protocols. We will adhere to the requirements of the protocols and of applicable law.”

Dennison’s refusal comes on the heels of the league’s announcement about the possibility of forfeits and loss of game checks if they’re cancellations caused by unvaccinated players.

According to the league, Tier 1 staff members, which includes coaches, are expected to get vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical reason not to do so. Without being vaccinated, coaches will not be able to interact with players on the field or anywhere else at a team’s facility.

The 63-year-old Dennison has been the offensive line coach in Minnesota since 2019 and has been a coach in the NFL for 27 years.

This is an interesting situation for sure. Obviously, some will refuse to take the vaccine, but the NFL, as a private entity, can mandate that their coaches and players get vaccinated. The league has not said that they have to get vaccinated, but they are not making it easy for anybody that doesn’t get it done. 

Vikings’ Cousins talks COVID-19 protocols for training camp, preseason

On Wednesday, the NFL came out with updated COVID-19 protocols for training camp and preseason. As a result, life will look a little different for players and coaches who are vaccinated for the virus and those who are not.

Look at it below:

Based on this list, there seems to be an advantage for vaccinated players and teams that have several of their players vaccinated. Keep in mind, these guidelines are just for training camp and preseason, so they could change when the regular season starts. 

According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, more than 50% of the league’s players have at least one dose of the vaccine.

On Wednesday, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was asked whether he was vaccinated and the potential differences that vaccinated and unvaccinated players could experience in 2021.

“I choose to keep my medical history private as with anything else that goes on,” Cousins said on Wednesday. “It’ll be a lot like last year to that degree. We’ve already lived it for one season. It’s a fluid situation and has been since the Covid-19 pandemic began. We’ll take it one week at a time, one month at a time, and see where we are when we get to the season. It’s so important that we focus on football as well and really making sure that we’re winning football games. That’s really what it’ll be about…

“I think people just need to make their own decision and make the one that’s best for them and their families. We’ll let them make their own decision.”

Cousins is correct. This is a fluid situation, but the NFL wants all of its players vaccinated based on these guidelines. It should be interesting to see if these guidelines will encourage players to get vaccinated before the season starts.

Vikings will induct former DT Kevin Williams into team’s Ring of Honor

The Minnesota Vikings will induct former DT Kevin Williams into the club’s Ring of Honor in 2021, the team announced on Wednesday.

Williams was the #9 overall draft pick in 2003 and went on to earn All-Rookie honors and set the team rookie record with 3.0 sacks in a game at Arizona. He went on to start every game he played for the Vikings over his 11 seasons, 177 games including playoffs. Williams played in 2014 with Seattle and 2015 with New Orleans, starting in Super Bowl XLIX for Seattle. For his NFL career, Williams started 202 of his 212 games, including playoffs.

Williams earned Associated Press 1st-Team All-Pro honors in five seasons (2004, 2006-09), was named to the NFL’s Team of the Decade for the 2000s and had six Pro Bowl berths (2004, 2006-10). Williams and John Randle are tied for 2nd in team history for Pro Bowl berths by DTs (6) behind only Alan Page’s 9 honors. Williams’ 60.0 sacks as a Viking rank behind only Randle and Page among DTs and he is tied for the franchise record with four defensive touchdowns (2 INTs, 2 FRs). As a cornerstone of the Vikings defense, Williams led a unit that ranked #1 in NFL run defense in three consecutive seasons (2006-08), the first time a defense achieved the feat since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

The addition brings the Vikings Ring of Honor to 26 members. Current members include: Fran Tarkenton, Alan Page, Jim Finks, Bud Grant, Paul Krause, Fred Zamberletti, Jim Marshall, Ron Yary, Korey Stringer, Mick Tingelhoff, Carl Eller, Cris Carter, Bill Brown, Jerry Burns, Randall McDaniel, Chuck Foreman, John Randle, Scott Studwell, Chris Doleman, Matt Blair, Joey Browner, Ahmad Rashad, Randy Moss, Dennis Green and Steve Jordan.

Vikings sign DT Sheldon Richardson

The Minnesota Vikings have signed DT Sheldon Richardson, the team announced on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old Richardson returns to Minnesota after spending two seasons with the Browns. In 2020, Richardson started all 16 games for Cleveland and had 62 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

During his two seasons with the Browns, Richardson started 31 of the 32 games he appeared in and compiled 126 total tackles (78 solo), 16 quarterback hits, nine tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, and four forced fumbles.

Richardson originally signed with the Vikings prior to the 2018 season and started all 16 games for the team, grabbing 49 tackles (26 solo), six tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hits, and 4.5 sacks.

The nine-year veteran started 118 of 121 career contests and collected 461 career tackles (273 solo), 31.0 sacks, 92 quarterback hits, 58 tackles for loss, 14 passes defensed, and one interception while causing 10 fumbles and recovering five.

Also, the Vikings announced that they had released rookie P Zach Von Rosenberg.

Vikings trade Hughes to Chiefs

The Minnesota Vikings have traded CB Mike Hughes and a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to the Kansas City Chiefs. In exchange, Minnesota receives a sixth-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, the teams announced on Thursday.

The former first-round pick for the Vikings back in 2018 missed ten games last season due to a neck injury. The 24-year-old Hughes struggled with injuries throughout his three-year career. He tore his ACL in 2018 and injured his neck in 2019.

In 24 games(seven starts) with the Vikings, Hughes had 80 tackles, two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. 

Minnesota bolstered their secondary in the offseason with the addition of three-time Pro Bowl corner Patrick Peterson, which made Hughes expendable.

For Hughes, he has an opportunity to resurrect his career with the Chiefs, and if he can stay healthy, maybe things can work out for him in Kansas City.

Vikings sign CB Patrick Peterson

The Minnesota Vikings have signed CB Patrick Peterson, the team announced on Thursday. 

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a one-year, $10 million deal.

The 30-year-old Peterson joins the Vikings after a 10-year career with the Arizona Cardinals, where he played in 154 games, all of which he started after being selected fifth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.

In 2020, Peterson started all 16 games recording three interceptions and eight passes defensed while playing in 99% of the team’s defensive snaps. While Peterson may not still be an elite corner in the NFL and is a guy that can still play at a decent level. 

A member of the 2010-19 All-Decade Team, Peterson has been selected a team captain five times and has totaled 499 tackles, 4.0 sacks, and 28 career interceptions, which ranks sixth all-time in Cardinals history.

Peterson, who has played in three career playoff games, has earned eight Pro Bowl nods (2011-18) and been selected Associated Press First-Team All-Pro three times (2011 as a returner, ’13,’ 15). His four career punt return touchdowns, all of which came as a rookie in 2011, are tied for the most ever in a single season and rank tied for 21st all-time for a career. 

Vikings release K Dan Bailey

The Minnesota Vikings have released kicker Dan Bailey, the team announced on Tuesday. 

The 33-year-old Bailey was not very good in 2020. Bailey was 15/22 on field goals, including missing four kicks(one extra point) in a loss to the Buccaneers. Last March, Bailey signed a three-year, $10 million deal with the Vikings. 

Before the 2020 season, Bailey was the sixth-most accurate kicker in NFL history, converting 87.3 percent of his career field-goal attempts.

The 10-year veteran spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Cowboys before signing with Minnesota in 2018. 

Vikings’ Zimmer: ‘Kyle(Rudolph) has been a leader and mentor for us on and off the field from the first day I arrived in Minnesota’

The Minnesota Vikings have terminated the contract of TE Kyle Rudolph, the team announced on Tuesday.

The 10-year veteran, who spent his whole career in Minnesota, was scheduled to make $9.4 million in 2021. The two-time Pro Bowler signed a four-year, $36 million contract extension with Minnesota back in 2019. 

According to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Rudolph‘s release saves Minnesota a little over $5 million in cap space and $8M in cash in 2021.

Last season, Rudolph, 31, was not used much in the passing game for Minnesota. In 12 games, he had 28 receptions for 334 yards and a career-low one touchdown catch. Rudolph was placed on injured reserve by the Vikings on December 29th with a foot injury.

Vikings GM Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer issued the following statements on Rudolph:

Vikings General Manger Rick Spielman:

“From the moment we drafted Kyle as a young man out of Notre Dame in 2011, through his 10th season with the Vikings in 2020, he has been one of the premier tight ends in the NFL and most influential and positive leaders I’ve ever been around. Kyle and Jordan have made such an immeasurable impact on our team and community that may never be matched. The energy they have invested in the community, most notably through the End Zone at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, is truly remarkable. I admire Kyle and we will miss him and his family. We sincerely wish them the best.”

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer:

“Kyle has been a leader and mentor for us on and off the field from the first day I arrived in Minnesota. He has been such an important part of this team and community throughout his career and it has been an honor to coach him the last seven seasons. He will be missed, and we wish him and his family nothing but the best.”

Gary Kubiak retires after 36 years in the NFL

Minnesota Vikings Offensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach Gary Kubiak has announced his retirement from the NFL. Kubiak retires having appeared in nine conference championship games and seven Super Bowls as a player or coach.

Kubiak has been part of four World Championship staffs during his career, most recently as the Head Coach of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

In 10 seasons as a head coach with Houston and Denver, Kubiak had 87 wins including postseason games. Kubiak spent 36 seasons in the NFL, playing for nine and 27 in coaching and personnel. Gary Kubiak has issued the following statement:

“It’s been the honor of my lifetime to work for 36 seasons as an NFL player and coach. I’ve been on a football field for most of my life, and now I look forward to stepping away from the game and enjoying more time with my family and friends. I offer my sincere thanks to the owners and fans of the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers for giving me opportunities to be a part of this great game and for treating me and my family so well over the years. I’ll miss the competition, the planning, game days and being part of a team. But, more than anything, I’ll cherish the friendships I’ve made along the way with players, coaches and staff. I love the game of football and will forever be its biggest fan.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has issued the following statement on the retirement of Gary Kubiak:

“Gary did a tremendous job with us at the Vikings over the past two seasons. I have a great deal of respect for him as a coach and as a person, and I’m glad I was able to coach with him. He has had one heck of an NFL career as a player, assistant coach and head coach, and I am really happy for Gary and his wife Rhonda as they head off to their ranch. We will all miss Gary at the Vikings organization and wish him the very best.”

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman has issued the following statement on the retirement of Gary Kubiak:

“Gary Kubiak is leaving an impressive legacy in the NFL, and his impact will be shown for decades to come in the players he’s guided and the coaches he’s mentored. There’s not a better man in our business than Gary. The entire Vikings organization appreciates what Gary did for us and what he has meant to the game.”