The Vikings have a pair of strong candidates for their defensive coordinator job as their search stretches into its third week. The intricacies of the NFL's interview process, though, mean they're at least a few days from finding Ed Donatell's replacement.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Vikings placed a formal request on Friday to interview Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, who worked with coach Kevin O'Connell for two seasons in Los Angeles.
Because Evero remains under contract with Denver, however, new Broncos coach Sean Payton would have to grant permission for him to interview for other jobs. Payton had not done so as of Friday night, though the Broncos plan to interview other candidates for their defensive coordinator job. He has a close relationship with former Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett, who hired him as Denver's defensive coordinator a year ago before O'Connell became the Vikings' head coach. If Evero is permitted to interview for the Vikings' job, he could ultimately be the team's selection.
Steelers assistant head coach Brian Flores also remains high on the Vikings' list, after interviewing in Minnesota on Jan. 26. He was on the Patriots' staff when O'Connell was a quarterback there from 2008-09. Evero and Flores still have chances at head coaching jobs; Evero interviewed twice for the Colts job, while both men have interviewed for the Cardinals' opening.
If neither Evero nor Flores winds up in Minnesota, the Vikings could turn to assistant head coach Mike Pettine, a former NFL head coach and longtime defensive coordinator who interviewed for the job last month and is still in the running.
While the Broncos have not yet permitted Evero to interview with the Vikings, they placed a request with the Steelers to speak to Flores, who had interviewed for Denver's head coaching job in 2019 and named the Broncos as one of the defendants in his 2022 lawsuit alleging racial bias in the NFL's head coaching interview process. Seahawks associate head coach Sean Desai, who is also a candidate in Denver, had interviewed for the Vikings' job, as well.
Whether the Broncos allow Evero to interview with the Vikings or whether they block him, the Vikings' search could pick up speed soon. Their interviews have covered a wide range of defensive approaches, from the man coverage schemes Flores first learned under Bill Belichick to the ideas former Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen brought to the table before accepting the Falcons' defensive coordinator job.