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Panthers Hire Ejiro Evero as DC — Is It Brian Flores or Bust for Vikings?

Inside The Vikings on FanNation logo Inside The Vikings on FanNation 2/5/2023 Will Ragatz
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With Evero off the board, the Vikings are down to Flores and Mike Pettine as current defensive coordinator candidates.

First Ryan Nielsen, then Sean Desai, and now Ejiro Evero. Vikings defensive coordinator candidates are dropping like flies.

The Vikings had strong interest in Evero, but he was hired on Sunday as the Panthers' DC, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Minnesota reportedly had "discussions" with Evero, but it appears no official interview took place. Evero has chosen to coach Carolina's defense under new head coach Frank Reich, which is understandable given all the young talent (Jaycee Horn, Brian Burns, Derrick Brown) the Panthers have on that side of the ball.

That leaves Brian Flores and in-house option Mike Pettine as the Vikings' two remaining candidates at the moment, with Flores undoubtedly the team's preferred target. But landing Flores is no sure thing. He's set to have a second interview for the Cardinals' head coaching vacancy on Wednesday, and he'll also interview for the Broncos' DC vacancy under Sean Payton on Tuesday.

One imagines the Vikings aren't thrilled by how their coordinator search has played out. They interviewed Nielsen, who was hired by the Falcons. They interviewed Desai, only for him to withdraw his name from consideration (he's in the mix for the Broncos job). They didn't even get to formally interview Evero — despite his connections to both Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O'Connell — before he accepted the Panthers job.

What happens if the Vikings don't land Flores? They could promote Pettine, who's been a defensive coordinator for three different teams, but would that be enough of a change from last year's woeful defense that got Ed Donatell fired? Pettine was a big part of that staff as the assistant head coach. Hiring him as DC would not go over well in the slightest among Vikings fans, not that that's the team's primary concern.

The Vikings could also re-open their search. Steve Wilks is a candidate to get the 49ers' DC job, but that's not a lock. There are plenty of other potential options out there, including Cory Undlin from the 49ers' staff and the Eagles' Dennard Wilson. Jim Leonhard perhaps?

The Vikings would love to hire Flores as their next defensive coordinator, but they're not the only team considering him. We'll see what happens.

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