Tomlin agrees in principle on a four-year deal
Mike Tomlin has agreed in principle on a four-year contract worth about $10 million to coach the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to sources close to the situation.
The Miami Dolphins signed San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to a very similar deal last week.
Although details were still being worked out, Tomlin has agreed to the key aspects of the deal. It may not be signed until Monday morning.
The Steelers, though, have already commenced planning a press conference for Monday to make the announcement.
There has been a lot of speculation over the last 24 hours on the matter.
The website for Sports Illustrated, SI.com, reported early Saturday afternoon that Tomlin had been selected the Steelers' head coach. But a source close to the situation told the Pioneer Press on Saturday that the report was "totally false," and Tomlin denied the report to ESPN.com.
Late Saturday, though, ESPN.com confirmed Sports Illustrated's report.
But for Sunday's edition, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Grimm had accepted the Steelers' offer.
Well, early Sunday morning, Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett issued the following statement: "At this point and time, the Steelers have not concluded a contract agreement with a new head coach, nor do we expect to do so today. There will be no other announcements from this office today.
"Enjoy Championship Sunday!"
But at some point Sunday, one of the Rooneys apparently offered Tomlin the job.
Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera was the other finalist, although he never got a second interview.
Assuming Tomlin gets the job, he would become only the third Steelers coach in 38 years, and the first black head coach in the club's 74-year history.
Steelers issue another statement
Pittsburgh Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett issued the following statement this morning: "At this point and time, the Steelers have not concluded a contract agreement with a new head coach, nor do we expect to do so today. There will be no other announcements from this office today.
"Enjoy Championship Sunday!"
Tomlin to Steelers?
Sports Illustrated is reporting that Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin has been hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But Steelers communications coordinator Dave Lockett said around 3 p.m. that "we have nothing to report.
"We don't have any press conference set up or scheduled, and I haven't gotten any word from our owners," Lockett said. "There is nothing to report on our end."
Asked if the SI.com report is true, Lockett said, "I can't even say that, one way or the other. That hasn't been told to me yet. When we get word, we will let everyone know."
SI.com reported that Tomlin, 34, impressed the Steelers during the interview process with his organization skills, intelligence and grasp of the game.
But a person close to the situation told the Pioneer Press that the SI report was premature.
ESPN quoted Tomlin as calling the report "untrue."
"I have no idea where it's coming from," Tomlin said.
Still, Tomlin is a finalist, along with Steelers assistant head coach Russ Grimm and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.
Because the Bears are still in the playoffs, Rivera did not get a second interview like the other two candidates.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that team chairman Dan Rooney and team President Art Rooney II declined comment as they left the headquarters Saturday afternoon.
Dolphins announce Cameron as coach
The Miami Dolphins have agreed to a four-year contract with Cam Cameron to be the head coach, the the club announced this afternoon.
Cameron spent the last five seasons running one of the league's elite offenses in San Diego. As offensive coordinator, Cameron led the Chargers to be the league's highest-scoring offense in 2006 and top five in 2004 and 2005.
Running back LaDainian Tomlinson was the Most Valuable Player, when he scored an NFL-record 31 touchdowns, and Antonio Gates, who was undrafted, has developed into the league's top tight end.
Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin interviewed for the job but apparently wasn't one of the finalist. He does, however, remain in the running for the Pittsburgh Steelers' opening, which is considerably more attractive.
The Dolphins will have a rough offseason, as they try to deal with its salary cap, questions at quarterback, and an aging roster.
Tomlin also could later emerge as a candidate in Oakland, if the Raiders search slows.
What if Tomlin does leave?
Mike Tomlin may not be as big an underdog for the Pittsburgh Steelers job as many believe. So that begs the question: What if the Vikings do lose their talented, young defensive coordinator?
There are some veteran coaches out there. But I think the Vikings have two solid in-house candidates, Karl Dunbar and Fred Pagac.
Dunbar coached the defensive line, and he has the utmost respect of one of the team's key players, Kevin Williams. His unit performed very well last season, although they struggled with sacks.
Pagac, meanwhile, has one advantage on Dunbar: He has been a defensive coordinator. Although he has been a linebackers coach for all six of his NFL seasons, Pagac was the defensive coordinator at Ohio State from 1996 to 2000, and he worked with linebackers for 14 seasons before that. Among the players he's helped develop: Chris Spielman, Mike Vrabel, Mike Doss, Pepper Johnson, Nate Clements and Shawn Springs.
Vikings add cornerback
The Vikings added cornerback Jerron Wishom to the roster on Monday. Wishom struggled with injuries at Louisiana Tech. But he has the physical attributes that could make him a solid NFL player. He played in five games for the Green Bay Packers in 2005 and was with the San Francisco 49ers in 2006, although he didn't play in a single game.
Check out an NFL.com scouting report on him: "Wishom is a big, physical cornerback with excellent speed and tackling ability, but has been hampered throughout his career by an assortment of knee injuries. When healthy, he has shown the ability to be a shutdown-type of pass defender and will usually line up against the opponent's top receiver."
Wishom is 5 feet 11, 193 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds and bench-pressed 330 pounds.
Tomlin a Steelers finalist
Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin is one of the three finalists for the Pittsburgh Steelers head coaching vacancy, the team announced today.
Tomlin will interview extensively on Tuesday with Steelers' brass. The other two finalists are Steelers assistant head coach Russ Grimm, who will interview on Wednesday, and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, whose interview will not take place until his team's season ends. The Bears defeated the Seattle Seahawks 27-24 in overtime in the NFC Divisional playoffs Sunday at Soldier Field.
"We are pleased with the progress of our search to date," Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement. "We now will move into the second interview phase and we are confident that each of the candidates on our short list will be excellent head coaches in the NFL. It is our task to determine which one is the best candidate for the Pittsburgh Steelers at this point in time.
"Our time frame remains as was stated at the beginning. We will conclude the search when we have found the best coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers."
Tomlin, who just completed his first season as an NFL defensive coordinator, also interviewed for the vacancy in Miami. But he has not received a second interview from the Dolphins.
Dolphins to interview Mike Tice?
Word out of Florida is that the Miami Dolphins' brass will visit with former Vikings head coach Mike Tice today before flying to Minnesota to interview current defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin today.
Tice is currently the assistant head coach of the Jaguars.
Tomlin interview dates set
Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin is going to be busy the next few days.
He will interview with the Miami Dolphins Monday and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday.
Steelers seek permission to speak to Tomlin
The Pittsburgh Steelers have asked the Vikings permission to speak to defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.
The Miami Dolphins sought and were granted permission to speak to Tomlin on Friday.
The Steelers were scheduled to interview Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera this weekend, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The paper also reported that offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will interview Tuesday and assistant head coach Russ Grimm will interview Monday.
Dolphins to interview Tomlin
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel said the Miami Dolphins have received permission to talk to Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.
Interestingly, we've pointed out before, Tomlin also could emerge as a candidate in Pittsburgh, where long-time coach Bill Cowher resigned today.
All signs point to offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt taking the job in Atlanta. He is from there, and he attended Georgia Tech. The Falcons may push hard for Whisenhunt because he is known for being creative on offense, and he could be the man to get Michael Vick playing at a consistent level.
If he is out of the picture in Pittsburgh, suddenly Tomlin's opponents there don't seem so stiff. Know this about Tomlin: he is charismatic. And Dan Rooney, the team chairman, will give everyone who interviews a legitimate chance to win him over.
There won't be any token interviews in Pittsburgh.
SI's All-Pro team
Two Vikings made Peter King's All-Pro team.
The Sports Illustrated Senior NFL writer included defensive tackle Kevin Williams and guard Steve Hutchinson on his annual All-Pro squad.
Tomlin on Miami radar?
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported in today's paper that Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin could also be a candidate for the Miami Dolphins vacancy.
What many people don't know or forget is that Tomlin interviewed with the Dolphins during the 2005 offseason. New Dolphins coach Nick Saban talked to Tomlin about becoming his defensive coordinator.
Perhaps turned off by Saban's hands-on style, Tomlin decided to stay in Tampa and remain the defensive backs coach.
Think about that.
That shows that Tomlin isn't going to just take the first job dangled before his eyes. He knows, deep inside, that he will become an NFL head coach someday. And the fact that he passed up a chance to be the defensive coordinator in Miami shows that he is willing to wait for the right opportunity.
So if, by chance, the Oakland Raiders have a vacancy, and Tomlin becomes a candidate. Don't think he would have any qualms about remaining a defensive coordinator in Minnesota, if that's his only option.
Pittsburgh, though, could be intriguing. There are reports that Bill Cowher will resign on Monday as coach. I would imagine Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who is one of the hottest head coaching candidates in football right now, would be given a very serious look by the Rooney family.
But Tomlin would be appealing because the Steelers have a history of taking a very -- very, very -- long-term approach to hiring their coaches.
Vikings sign WR Randy Hymes
The Vikings have signed WR Randy Hymes to a future contract.
Hymes worked out for the Vikings in late September, but he did not play in 2006.
In four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Hymes started 12 of the 37 games he played in, with 43 catches for 578 yards and four touchdowns.
Hymes, 6 feet 3, 211 pounds, played his college ball at Grambling.
Tomlin in the ATL?
The Atlanta Falcons are looking for a new head coach, and Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin could emerge as a candidate for two reasons.
First, Tomlin was a key assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003, when they won Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego. Rich McKay, currently the Falcons president and general manager, was also a part of that Super Bowl team, as the general manager.
Second, Tomlin is from Hampton, Virginia, which is 10 minutes from Newport, where Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is from.
Given how well he relates to players, you think Tomlin and Vick could get along?
Tomlin may be young, and he may only have one year as a defensive coordinator. But anyone who has spent any time with him knows that he is naturally charismatic. Get him in front of an owner like Arthur Blank, and he could walk out of there with a blank check.
Childress: Jackson or Bollinger will start in 2007
Coach Brad Childress said today at his season-ending press conference that Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger will compete to be the Vikings starting quarterback in 2007.
"I want it to be competitive between those two guys," Childress said of Bollinger and Jackson.
Childress said he was scheduled for an afternoon meeting with veteran Brad Johnson to talk about the quarterback's future. While Johnson is under contract through 2008, Childress said he would not hold Johnson to that deal against his will.
"Brad will be in there in the mix if he wants to be here," Childress said. "If he doesn't want to be here, that's what we're going to talk about... You don't want to hold somebody here against their will."
If he remains, though, Johnson would serve in a "mentoring" capacity, Childress said.
As for all the sexy names out there -- Jake Plummer, Byron Leftwich, Drew Bledsoe, etc... -- forget them. Childress said if Johnson leaves, the Vikings would be inclined to add a young "developmental" quarterback, perhaps using a late-round draft pick.
"I don't think we're going to the free-agent market," Childress said. "We're not even close to thinking about going for a free-agent quarterback. I like the guys that are here right now."
In other news, Childress said there are no major post-season injuries, although a handful of players will get scopes and minor surgeries.
In scrutinizing himself, Childress said he will work on calling better plays next season. But he said he currently plans to continue calling his own plays.
Tomlin's name comes up for Pittsburgh job
Bill Cowher is still officially the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Pro Football Talk, a popular website devoted to the NFL, suggested that the Vikings defensive coordinator makes a lot of sense to become the next head coach of the Steelers.
The website pointed out that Steelers chairman Dan Rooney is a proponent of the rule bearing his name, which encourages consideration of minority candidates, and he would like to hire someone young to stick around for a long time.
"(Mike) Tomlin, at 35, has five years' experience as the defensive backs coach in Tampa and one year as a defensive coordinator," the website said. "He likely would have had more time as a coordinator, but the Bucs are notorious for refusing to allow assistant coaches still under contract from accepting promotions short of head coach.
"And in one year with the Vikings, Tomlin has put together an excellent run defense."
Tomlin's popularity among his players will documented, and he has a knack for getting them fired up for games, except for the season finale against the St. Louis Rams.
Raiders on the clock... Vikings not too far behind
The Detroit Lions victory over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday may have boosted morale. But it came at a high price: the top pick.
There are some quality players in this draft, and the Vikings will have the seventh pick.
Here is the order:
1) Oakland Raiders
2) Detroit Lions
3 and 4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Cleveland Browns (determined by coin flip)
5) Arizona Cardinals
6) Washington Redskins
7) Minnesota Vikings
8) Houston Texans
9) Miami Dolphins
10) Atlanta Falcons
Players bolting town
A long season officially ended after a long night for some.
On New Year's Day, at 10 a.m., the Vikings had their final meeting before heading out for the offseason.
Vikings coach Brad Childress encouraged his players to be safe, to work out, to participate in the offseason conditioning program at Winter Park and focus on self-improvement.
"It was the season-ending meeting," Vikings safety Darren Sharper said. "Similar... I've been through 10 of these now."
After the meeting, the Vikings provided their phone numbers and schedules, and the players briefly visited with their position coaches.
Several Vikings said the team clearly needs "playmakers" for next season, but they were confident -- unlike under Red McCombs -- that the new leadership structure would address the obvious needs.
"I don't want to disappoint anybody," Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "But we need more players. I think (the front office will) do a good job."
Added Sharper, "Everyone knows, (we need to) add more playmakers."
Defensive end came up, along with receiver.
Any other suggestions?
Well, here's some good news: CB Cedric Griffin said he needs just a month for his shoulder to heal.
"The shoulder and neck area is feeling better, and I'm just going to get some rest for the offseason, and I'm going to come back healthy and strong," he said.
Also, FB Tony Richardson said his right forearm has healed, and he will be ready for any offseason work.