Source: Vikings to hire Zimmer as head coach

The Minnesota Vikings will hire Mike Zimmer as coach, a league source told ESPN.

Zimmer, who spent the past five seasons as the Cincinnati Bengals‘ defensive coordinator, and the Vikings had been in negotiations in an effort to complete a deal Wednesday, according to league sources.

Zimmer remained overnight after his second interview Tuesday was finished, with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf more centrally involved in the session, sources told ESPN.

Wilf made calls to selective references on Zimmer and came away satisfied to give a green light on hiring him to succeed Leslie Frazier as Minnesota’s coach.

Parameters of a contract were in place, and negotiations between the Vikings and Zimmer’s agent, Marvin Demoff, gained momentum toward completion, league sources told ESPN.

After surrendering the second-most yards and the most points in the NFL this season, the Vikings are turning to a head coach they believe can help fix the problems.

Zimmer will become the ninth coach in franchise history, 16 days after Frazier was fired on the heels of a 5-10-1 season. He goes to Minnesota after directing a Bengals defense that finished in the top 10 in yards and points allowed in four of the past five seasons.

Zimmer, 57, is considering hiring Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator, a league source told ESPN. Zimmer also is considering Kyle Shanahan and Mike Mularkey as candidates, according to league sources.

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his excitement over the pending hiring of Zimmer.

Fired up about Coach Zimmer! As a Cincy kid he’s been fun to watch there and can’t wait to work with him! Welcome to the @Vikings!

— Kyle Rudolph (@KyleRudolph82) January 15, 2014

Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga also tweeted his feelings on Zimmer’s hiring in Minnesota.

Gonna miss you coach Zimmer! Wish you nothing but the best in Minnesota. You brought out the best (cont)

— Rey Maualuga (@maualuga58) January 15, 2014

Zimmer also is targeting Bengals linebackers coach Paul Guenther as his defensive coordinator, sources told ESPN. But the Bengals want to make Guenther their defensive coordinator, according to sources.

Zimmer broke into the NFL in 1994 and was an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys for six seasons before serving as defensive coordinator from 2000 to 2006. He was the Atlanta Falcons‘ defensive coordinator in 2007 and became the Bengals’ defensive coordinator in 2008.

He had interviewed for five head-coaching jobs over the years, and was offered Nebraska‘s head-coaching job after he led the Cowboys’ defense to the No. 1 ranking in the league in 2003.

But things had not lined up right for Zimmer until after the 2013 season, when he got second interviews with both the Vikings and the Tennessee Titans.

Information from Vikings reporter Ben Goessling and ESPN’s Adam Caplan is included in this report.

  • ESPN Senior NFL Analyst
  • Joined ESPN in 1991
  • Has covered every Super Bowl since 1979
  • ESPN NFL Insider
  • Joined ESPN in 2009
  • Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books

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