Once bitten, twice shy.
When the Vikings hired Mike Tomlin to be their defensive coordinator, they knew that he would eventually become a hot head coaching candidate. However, the powers that be likely didn’t envision that he would be gone after just one season.
After Tomlin signed on to be the Steelers head coach, Leslie Frazier was hired to assume the defensive coordinator position for the Vikings. Twelve months later, many of those same fears were realized by the organization as Frazier became a candidate for coaching vacancies with the Falcons and Dolphins. While he didn’t land either job, the writing on the wall was clear – Frazier, like Tomlin, is on the fast track to eventually become a head coach.
To that end, the Vikings announced Wednesday that Frazier has been named assistant head coach as well as defensive coordinator and had his contract extended through the 2009 season. Over the last several years, the designation of assistant head coach has been added to the titles of assistant coaches to prevent “lateral moves” – a coordinator for one team becoming a coordinator for another. By tagging a coach with the assistant head coach designation, it doesn’t prevent him from getting a head coaching job somewhere else, but it does limit his potential job promotions to head coaching spots only.
Like the feeling around Winter Park was with Tomlin before he left, a good coach will get noticed around the league. The Steelers jumped on the chance to make Tomlin just their third coach since prior to the NFL-AFL merger. The Vikings are on notice that Frazier may follow in Tomlin’s footsteps sooner than later. While the promotion and change in title is a positive thing for Frazier’s future, it may also bode as a warning that his time with the Vikings will be in jeopardy with each new head coaching vacancy.
* Late last season, there was talk that DeAngelo Hall, despite being immensely talented, might get cut after throwing his teammates under the bus during an awful 2007 season and sounding like a player who wanted out of the Falcons organization in the worst way. Enter the Oakland Raiders. Long known for taking players that have checkered histories on and off the field, the news that the team is willing to pay Hall as much as $70 million over seven years has some shaking their heads in disbelief. When Randy Moss wore out his welcome with the Vikings, the Raiders gave up the seventh overall pick. After the Broncos cut Javon Walker, who talked his way out of both Denver and Green Bay and has been viewed as a poor teammate (not to mention an injury concern), the Raiders stepped up with a six-year, $55 million deal that includes $27 million in the first three years and $16 million in guaranteed money. Safety Gibril Wilson was given a $39 million, six-year deal that includes $16 million in guarantees. That came just a day after giving part-time tackle Tommy Kelly a seven-year, $50.5 million deal that includes $18 million in guaranteed money and $25 million in the first three years. If that isn’t enough, the team had to slap the franchise on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, which will cost the Raiders another $9 million this season. For a team that has won just 19 games over the last five years, Al Davis is spending like a drunken sailor. Either he’s preparing for the league to opt out of the salary cap or he’s lost his mind. Maybe that’s why the Raiders are averaging less than four wins a year over that span.
* Gus Frerotte was scheduled to stay overnight in the Twin Cities and meet again with team officials Thursday about signing a deal to become the Vikings' backup quarterback. If recent history has shown us anything, keeping a player in town overnight has been a precursor to signing a deal.
* In the first three weeks of free agency, more than 150 players have signed their names on new contracts, depleting the free-agent pool to a drip.
* Quarterback Brian Brohm is one of the players the Vikings are going to visit with. Rising QB prospect Joe Flacco has also been invited to meet with the Vikes.
* The delay in finalizing the new four-year, $40 million contract with Larry Fitzgerald has hurt the Cardinals. Until all the contract details are settled, he still counts $16 million against the Cardinals' salary cap. It was reported by Cardinals beat writers that linebacker Brandon Chillar was prepared to sign a contract with the team, but until they could free up cap money, no deal could be finalized. On Wednesday, he apparently had enough and signed a two-year deal with the Packers.
* As reported yesterday, Titans offensive lineman Kevin Mawae was officially named as the president of the NFL players union Wednesday.