Vikings fire head coach Mike Zimmer, GM Rick Spielman

The Minnesota Vikings fired coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman on Monday, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.

Minnesota later announced their departures.

"We appreciate Rick and Mike's commitment to the team's on-field success, their passion for making a positive impact in our community and their dedication to players, coaches and staff," Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf said in a statement. "While these decisions are not easy, we believe it is time for new leadership to elevate our team so we can consistently contend for championships. We wish both Rick and Mike and their families only the best.

"Our comprehensive search for a new general manager and head coach will begin immediately and will be led internally. We are determined to have sustained success and bring Vikings fans the Super Bowl championships they expect and deserve."

The belief heading into the season finale was that the Vikings would move on from Zimmer after eight years. Firing Spielman, who has been in Minnesota for 16 years, indicates the Wilfs wanted a clean slate after another disappointing season.

Zimmer's firing comes after the Vikings turned in consecutive sub-.500 seasons for the first time since he was hired in 2014. Zimmer had the seventh-longest coaching tenure among the NFL's 32 clubs and went 72-56-1 in his tenure in Minnesota.

"I have given my heart and soul to this organization and to the players. I have had outstanding assistant coaches who have worked tirelessly. I'm sorry we didn't get it done," Zimmer said in a statement Monday. "The fans make this place truly special. On Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium, it's an unbelievable atmosphere. I'll miss coaching the players, some who have been with me for all eight years. I want to thank the players who welcomed me in 2014 and believed in me that I could lead them to be great."

The coach overcame some disastrous situations in Minnesota, including Teddy Bridgewater's catastrophic injury and navigating the end of Adrian Peterson's tenure with the Vikings.

The highlight of the Zimmer era came in 2017. Armed with the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense, the Vikings compiled a 13-3 record with backup QB Case Keenum and secured the No. 2 seed. The game known as the "Minnesota Miracle" will forever be etched in Vikings lore after Keenum hit Stefon Diggs with a 61-yard touchdown pass in the final seconds to beat the New Orleans Saints, 29-24, in the Divisional Round. However, Zimmer's memorable run ended in the NFC Championship Game with a 38-7 blowout loss to a Philadelphia Eagles team that went on to win Super Bowl LII.

The Vikings still haven't recovered, winning one playoff game since that Miracle and authoring back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in the coach's tenure. It's apropos that after Zimmer helped immediately turn around a league-worst defense upon becoming the Vikings head coach in 2014, he ends his tenure with one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2021.

The Zimmer era will be remembered as always good but not good enough.

Parting ways with Spielman is more of a surprise than Zimmer getting the boot. The GM is well respected within NFL circles and has had some dynamite drafts. It will not be a surprise if Spielman lands in another front office this season -- perhaps in Detroit, where his brother, Chris, is an executive.

The Vikings elected not to go halfway. Instead, they're igniting an entirely new era of Vikings football.

"I want to thank Zygi & Mark Wilf and the entire Wilf family for believing in me and consistently providing the resources for us to be successful as a football operations staff," Spielman said in a statement. "It is not common in the NFL to be in a position for this long, which goes to show how this ownership group believes in stability and supports their leaders."

The first big question the new brass will tackle is what to do about quarterback Kirk Cousins. The veteran passer is owed $35 million guaranteed in 2022, the final year of his contract, and carries a $45 million cap hit.

Related Content