Vikings' assistants in limbo during search

MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Minnesota Vikings sift through candidates for their open head coaching position, they still have an entire staff of assistant coaches under contract, waiting to see if they'll work for the Vikings' new head coach or be forced to be look for jobs elsewhere.

In the meantime, as three of the league's seven head coaching jobs have been filled, the Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins are filling out their coaching staffs. The Buccaneers' situation, in particular, could be of interest to the defensive assistants on the Vikings' staff; former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier will be introduced there on Friday as the team's new defensive coordinator, and while head coach Lovie Smith has filled up much of his defensive staff with assistants from his days in Chicago, ESPN Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas says the team still needs a cornerbacks coach and a quality control assistant.

If Frazier wanted to bring defensive backs coach Joe Woods or defensive assistant Jeff Imamura with him to Tampa, though, the Buccaneers would have to ask the Vikings for permission to talk to either coach. The Atlanta Falcons were already rebuffed in their request to talk to offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, and until they get a chance to talk with a new head coach, the Vikings' assistants are effectively in limbo.

It should be mentioned that all of Frazier's assistants have contracts through the 2014 season, when the head coach's deal was scheduled to expire, so it's not as though the entire coaching staff is uncertain about its source of income for 2014. Their deals are all up after next season, though, and those assistants who are able to find new jobs would also likely get contracts that run longer than their current deals with the Vikings.

The situation has several odd dynamics, since a new coach could either fire the entire staff or general manager Rick Spielman could mandate the new coach keeps several assistants from Frazier's staff (Davidson and wide receivers coach George Stewart, who has been a mentor to Cordarrelle Patterson, immediately come to mind). And then there's the case of special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who might have been a slam-dunk to return before former punter Chris Kluwe alleged that Priefer made homophobic remarks during the 2012 season. The Vikings are certainly within their right to keep the staff and give a new coach the first right of refusal on Frazier's assistants, but as the team's coaching search approaches the end of its second week, there are 22 men whose futures are directly tied to it.