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Monday, December 30, 2013
Vikings' assistants waiting to learn fate

By Ben Goessling

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- While the Minnesota Vikings look for a new head coach after firing Leslie Frazier on Monday, Frazier's entire staff of assistant coaches is still under contract, waiting to learn its fate.

The coaches have contracts that run through the 2014 season, when Frazier's deal was scheduled to expire, and general manager Rick Spielman said he will be meeting with those coaches on an individual basis to let them know if they will receive permission to interview for other jobs.

It's an odd situation for the coaches, who could be fired when a new head coach comes in, ostensibly wanting to hire his own people, but in the case of someone like well-respected wide receivers coach George Stewart, the Vikings might want to retain the option to bring some members of Frazier's staff back.

"We work side-by-side and very hard in personnel and on a daily basis," Spielman said. "So when these decisions come, it makes it very difficult but moving forward we felt this was best for our organization to take the next step."

Spielman said he wants to begin interviewing head coaching candidates later this week, with the goal of having a head coach in place by the Senior Bowl in late January. If the process takes that long, it could hinder the ability of Vikings coaches to find jobs elsewhere. But it's rare to find many staff holdovers from one head coach to the next, so the move for now seems mostly about the Vikings giving themselves options.

Stewart, in particular, could be a strong candidate to stick around. He connected with receiver Cordarrelle Patterson before last year's draft, and worked closely with Patterson all season. As Patterson learns his second offensive system in as many years, and builds off a breakout rookie season, the Vikings might find it prudent to keep Stewart around for that process.

"Coach Stewart, he’s like a father figure to me," Patterson said. "That’s a guy, I feel like he should be here next year. That’s my coach. I never had a coach like him. He’s one of those coaches you don’t want to leave. I feel like he’s going to be a head coach somewhere and I promise you. I hope he’s here next year. I feel like he needs to be here. That’s my coach and I hope he be here next year."