Sources: Vikings fire coach Zimmer, GM Spielman

    Covered the 49ers, Raiders and Warriors for the San Jose Mercury News. She joined ESPN in 2017.

The Vikings have fired both coach Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman, signaling a regime change in Minnesota, according to ESPN and multiple reports.

Zimmer, 65, was hired by Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf in 2014 after he spent six seasons as the defensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals (2008-13). He held the same position with the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 and Dallas Cowboys from 2000-06. Zimmer started his NFL coaching career with the Cowboys in 1994 and coaching colleges from 1979-1993.

This is the first time in Zimmer’s career he has been fired.

In eight seasons with the Vikings, Zimmer had a 72-56-1 record and made three trips to the postseason (2015, 2017, 2019) with two playoff wins. Minnesota reached the NFC Championship Game in 2017 with the league’s top-ranked defense.

Zimmer’s firing comes as Minnesota’s defense reached historic depths this season, contributing to the team’s 8-9 record. After setting a record for the most points allowed in the final two minutes of a half in the last 20 seasons with 107 in 2020, the Vikings reached a new low this year with 128 points allowed in the final two minutes of a half, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

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Spielman, 59, joined the Vikings in 2006 as vice president of player personnel and was promoted to general manager in 2012.

The Vikings made the playoffs six times during Spielman’s time as an executive, reaching the NFC Championship Game twice — in the 2009 and 2017 seasons.

Spielman was directing the Vikings’ draft preparations in 2007 when the team selected running back Adrian Peterson No. 7 overall. Peterson went on to be named the Offensive Rookie of the Year and later Most Valuable Player in 2012. Spielman also drafted wide receiver Justin Jefferson 22nd overall in the 2020 draft. Jefferson this season set an NFL record for most receiving yards over a player’s first two NFL seasons.

Spielman, however, will forever be tied to Minnesota’s marquee signing of quarterback Kirk Cousins, who came to the Vikings as a free agent in 2018 after signing a record three-year, fully guaranteed contract worth $84 million. The Vikings made the playoffs just once since Cousins joined the team.

Overall, the Vikings were 132-123-2 during the regular season and 3-6 in the postseason during Spielman’s time with the team.

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