General Manager, Minnesota Vikings
Rick Spielman enters his 4th season as General Manager of the club and 10th overall with the Vikings in 2015, the 25th season he has worked in the NFL.
The 2015 Vikings will be building on the foundation set in 2014 under new Head Coach Mike Zimmer. The emergence of QB Teddy Bridgewater late in the season and a core of young, talented players puts the future of the franchise a solid footing.
Spielman joined the Vikings as Vice President of Player Personnel on May 30, 2006 and directed scouting, free agency and draft preparations for the club before taking on General Manager duties for 2012. Spielman has climbed the ranks of NFL personnel departments with Detroit, Chicago and Miami prior to joining the Vikings. Spielman’s tenure with all 3 franchises has been highlighted by drafting impact players throughout the seven rounds and making key trades and free agency acquisitions. Spielman’s teams have won 5 divisional titles and advanced to the playoffs 9 times.
The Vikings have drafted players who have made immediate impacts on the club under Spielman’s direction. The team has used 10 picks in the 1st round since Spielman joined the club to select Adrian Peterson (2007), Percy Harvin (2009), Christian Ponder (2011), Matt Kalil (2012), Harrison Smith (2012), Sharrif Floyd (2013), Xavier Rhodes (2013), Cordarrelle Patterson (2013), Anthony Barr (2014) and Bridgewater (2014). Of those drafted 2007-14, all 10 were starters in their rookie seasons, 7-of-the-10 were All-Rookie selections, 4-of-the-8 were Pro Bowlers as rookies with Peterson and Harvin were each named Offensive Rookie of the Year and Patterson was a 1st-Team Associated Press All-Pro, only the 2nd rookie position player in team history to achieve the honor, joining Randy Moss in 1998. Rookie K Blair Walsh in 2012 joined Moss and Patterson as the only rookie All-Pro selections in team history. Under Spielman’s drafting, a total of 10 Vikings have earned All-Rookie honors.
Since Spielman began directing the Vikings drafts and personnel from 2007-14, the Vikings drafted 7 players (Peterson, Rice, Harvin, Rudolph, Walsh, Kalil, Patterson), signed 2 as free agents (Brett Favre, Jerome Felton) and acquired 1 in trade (Jared Allen) who have gone on to earn Pro Bowl honors.
The Vikings have had multiple 1st-round picks in 2012, ‘13 and ‘14, the 1st time in team history to achieve the feat and the Vikings 7 selections in the 1st round is the most in the NFL over that 3-year span, ahead of Cleveland and St. Louis with 5 each. In 2013, the Vikings had 3 picks in the 1st round for only the 2nd time in team history, joining the 1967 Vikings draft class, and became the 1st NFL team with 3 picks in the 1st round since 2001.
The 2014 Vikings had impact performances from new starters and rookies, having players honored by the NFL for Player of the Week and Player of the Month who joined the team as everything from 1st-round draft picks to rookie free agents. Rookie 1st-rounders Barr and Bridgewater both earned Player of the Week accolades and Bridgewater was named the QB of the All-Rookie team by PFWA. The club retained 5th-year DE Everson Griffen as a free agent and elevated him to be the starter at RDE despite only starting 1 game in his opening 4 seasons. Griffen responded by leading the team with 12.0 sacks and earning NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors in September. In his 1st season on the 53-man roster, former practice squad WR Adam Thielen was a key special teams contributor and emerged on offense late in the season. Thielen was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week against Carolina after blocking a punt and returning it for a TD. Barr was tabbed as NFC Defensive Player of the Week at Tampa Bay when he returned a FR for a TD on the 1st play of OT for the win. Bridgewater twice earned Pepsi Rookie of the Week, vs. Atlanta in his 1stcareer start and vs. Carolina.
In 2013, Patterson re-wrote the Vikings and NFL record books and showcased his unique play-making ability. He tied an NFL record for the longest play in league history and notched the longest KO return in NFL history with a 109-yard score vs. Green Bay (10/27/13), had another 105t KR on the opening kickoff at Chicago (9/15/13) in only his 2nd career game, set the Vikings record with a 32.4 avg. on KO returns for the season and tied the team record with 2 KOR TDs in a season.
The 2012 Vikings relied heavily on contributions from the rookie class and newly-acquired free agents. The Vikings rookies set a team record when 5 (Kalil, Smith, Robinson, Ellison, Wright) started vs. Chicago (12/9/12). Rookie 6th-rounder Blair Walsh kicked his way into the club and NFL record books en route to All-Pro, Pro Bowl and All-Rookie honors, setting an NFL record by hitting 10 FGs of 50+ yards and broke the Vikings rookie scoring record with 141 points. The offense paved the way for Peterson to post a season for the ages as he ran for 2,097 yards to finish 9 yards short of the NFL single-season record.
In 2008 the Vikings engineered a pre-draft trade to land Allen from Kansas City, who has earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2008 and 2009. The club signed Favre as a free agent entering 2009 and the veteran QB directed one of the most exciting seasons in team history and set career-bests in several offensive categories. The 2009 Vikings boasted an NFL-best 10 players who earned Pro Bowl honors.
The Vikings ability to identify talent throughout the draft was evidenced in 2009 when all 5 players selected went on to start a game during their rookie season, including All-Rookie honoree OT Phil Loadholt and Harvin.
Spielman began his NFL career as a scout with Detroit in 1990 and worked with the club in college scouting for 5 seasons before adding pro scouting duties in 1995 and ’96. He moved to Director of Pro Personnel for the Bears from 1997-99 before joining the Dolphins in 2000 as Vice President of Player Personnel. He was promoted in 2002 to Senior Vice President-Football Operations/Player Personnel and eventually General Manager in 2004. Spielman left the Dolphins during the 2005 off-season and worked with ESPN as an NFL analyst before joining the Vikings. While with Miami for 5 seasons, the team had a winning record 4 times, won the AFC East in 2000 and went to the playoffs in 2000 and 2001 but missed the playoffs in 2002 and 2003 despite 9-7 and 10-6 records respectively.
Spielman got his first taste of NFL personnel analysis as a college scout with Detroit from 1990-94 and added pro scouting responsibilities for his final 2 seasons (1995-96) in the Motor City. The Lions enjoyed one of the finest stretches in franchise history in the early 1990s, winning a pair of NFC Central titles in 1991 and 1993 and the team advanced to the playoffs in 1991, ’93, ’94 and ’95. The trio of consecutive post-season berths was a first for the team. The 1991 team set a franchise record with a 12-4 regular season mark, hosted and won a playoff game for the first time since 1957 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game against Washington, losing out on the chance to play in Super Bowl XXVI at the Metrodome.
Following Spielman’s playing career at Southern Illinois from 1983-86 he was invited to training camp with the San Diego Chargers (1987) and Lions (1988). As a collegiate player, Spielman was a 1st-Team All-Gateway Conference honoree as a junior and part of the 1983 NCAA Division I-AA national championship team as a redshirt freshman. His younger brother, Chris, was a Pro Bowl LB and a 2nd-round pick of the Lions in 1988. He played 11 NFL seasons with Detroit (1988-95) and Buffalo (1996-98).
Spielman has a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois and a master’s from Ohio State. He and his wife, Michele, have been active with children’s charities. The couple has adopted six children, Juan, Luis, Ronnie, J.D., Omie and Whitney.