Danielle Hunter going to IR, Yannick Ngakoue was traded, is a full-scale fire sale upcoming for Vikings?

Frank Schwab
·4 min read

It wasn’t even lunchtime on Thursday, and the Minnesota Vikings had lost their two best pass rushers for the season.

Yannick Ngakoue, acquired in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars right before the season, was shipped off before Halloween. He was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for picks. Then, news came from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that fellow defensive end Danielle Hunter would miss the rest of the season to get surgery on a herniated disc.

The Vikings are 1-5, coming off an embarrassing loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Ngakoue was unloaded for draft picks. The Vikings still have some big salaries that probably need to go, and a coach that is going to get some questions about his job security.

So what’s next for the Vikings?

Vikings ‘want to win as many games as we can’

If the Vikings were willing to dump Ngakoue, who has played well and is a good young talent, it would seem like just about anyone is available. However, general manager Rick Spielman denied the team is being torn down.

We’ll see what the next couple weeks bring.

The most obvious candidates to be moved, if the Vikings continue to sell, are offensive tackle Riley Reiff and safety Anthony Harris. Reiff is 31 and took a pay cut to stay with the Vikings — that helped the team trade for Ngakoue, who didn’t even last with the Vikings through Week 7 — but most teams can use offensive line help. Harris is a fine playmaking safety who is on the franchise tag for this season.

Who else could go? Safety Harrison Smith is 31 and his contract is done after 2021. Receiver Adam Thielen is 30 and could be a huge help to a contender. It’s doubtful anyone would take the bloated contracts of linebacker Anthony Barr or quarterback Kirk Cousins, but it would appear that anything is on the table for the Vikings.

Including what to do with the coach.

Mike Zimmer with his arms crossed on the field.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer could find himself on the hot seat before the end of the season. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

What other changes are coming for the Vikings?

Zimmer is a good coach. He has a 58-43-1 record and is one of the most respected defensive minds in the game. Yet, he’s in his seventh season and NFL teams are impatient. Most coaches don’t last for an eighth season without at least one Super Bowl appearance.

Depending on what happens before the Nov. 3 trade deadline, Zimmer could be coaching for his job without several key veterans. He will go forward without a couple of top pass rushers, at the very least.

The Vikings were coming off a playoff season, but finally ran up against some hard decisions on the salary cap. They added almost nobody in free agency and lost many veterans. It was a team with plenty of rookies that didn’t have a preseason to work them in. Things were looking better when the Vikings played a fine game at the Seattle Seahawks, but a last-minute loss to Russell Wilson seemed to take away the team’s spirit.

The general manager says the season isn’t over and no veterans have asked for trades. Spielman’s words say the Vikings still want to compete this season. That’s hard to believe, and Minnesota suddenly became the team to watch in the lead-up to the trade deadline.

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