The upcoming 2019 season was technically the last season of Mike Zimmer’s contract as a Head Coach. Coaching in the last year of your deal is usually a less than ideal situation in the NFL. In the rare instances that it does occur, the “lame duck” label tends to get thrown around fairly often.
On Wednesday during his press conference at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Rick Spielman confirmed that there would no lame ducks flying around the Vikings facilities this season.
Rick Spielman said the Vikings have picked up an option in Mike Zimmer’s contract. The coach is now under contract through 2020.— Ben Goessling (@GoesslingStrib) February 27, 2019
The move shouldn’t be too surprising. The Vikings had a team option for Zimmer in 2020 and they exercised it to avoid questions about Zimmer’s future throughout the upcoming season. It now appears that Zimmer will be able to be at the helm of the Vikings throughout all three seasons of Kirk Cousins’ guaranteed contract.
However, one shouldn’t assume that Zimmer will if the disappointment continues in Minnesota going forward. If things go poorly and the Vikings fail to live up to expectations again, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the team move on from both Zimmer and Spielman. Since coach contracts don’t count against the salary cap, teams are usually much more willing to eat the salary of coaches when things don’t work out when compared to expensive players. Spielman remains in the last year of his contract for now:
Spielman would not discuss his own contract situation. Currently, he is set to enter the last year of his contract (2019).— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) February 27, 2019
To clarify - Zimmer had a team option in 2020. https://t.co/bvfEuFZOv7
Overall I think the move to exercise Zimmer’s option was inevitable and the correct one to make. You don’t want a “dead coach walking” in such a pivotal year for the franchise. I believe that Zimmer has definitively earned the opportunity to see how far he can take this team over the next two seasons. Hopefully he and Spielman can improve the team enough in crucial areas to make a positive impact in 2019 and beyond.