sports 3 days ago

Ex-Viking Captain Munnerlyn says he left 'millions on table' to join Panthers

Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. — Chris Tomasson Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

Dec. 07--Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said Wednesday he turned down a deal worth millions of dollars more when he left the Vikings in free agency last spring to return to the Carolina Panthers.

Munnerlyn played three years with Minnesota after being with the Panthers from 2009-13. The Vikings and Panthers play Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.

"When you leave millions of dollars on the table, it's definitely a tough decision," Munnerlyn told Carolina reporters. "But at the same time, Charlotte was my home. This is a place that I wanted to be.''

Munnerlyn wouldn't say specifically how much Minnesota offered. He signed a four-year deal with the Panthers that could be worth as much as $21 million.

"To come back here was a no-brainer for me,'' Munnerlyn said. "I still had my house here. This is the organization that drafted me, that gave me the opportunity to play the game I love."

Munnerlyn was one of three Minnesota free agents to sign with Panthers in March. Also departing were tackle Matt Kalil and wide receiver Charles Johnson, who is on injured reserve.

The Vikings didn't look to retain Johnson but wanted to keep Kalil, who signed a five-year, $55.5 million deal with Carolina.

"We tried to sign him back,'' Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told Carolina reporters. "I like Matt. I thought he was a good player.''

Kalil will oppose Vikings right defensive end Everson Griffen on Sunday.

"We went to USC together, so I've known Matt Kalil for 10, 11 years now,'' Griffen said. "So it's going to be a fun opportunity to go up against my pal."

"I'm going to watch my tape. I'm going to study him. I'm going to know him better than I know my own phone number."

Munnerlyn said he continues to keep up with Griffen as well as Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. He said he remains on a group chat with Minnesota's defensive backs, although they don't discuss much about football.

"Just to go out there to compete against those guys is definitely going to be fun,'' Munnerlyn said.

EDWARDS HIGH ON COACHING LIST

John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which works with the NFL on minority hiring, said Vikings defensive coordinator is George Edwards is high on a list of head coaching candidates submitted Monday to an NFL advisory panel in New York.

"The league feels that he's done a great job and is very deserving at being ready to go for anything that opens up this year,'' Wooten said. "He's in great position, and we expect him to be right in the interview process.''

The Fritz Pollard Alliance works with the NFL on the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for a head coaching position. Each team receives the Fritz Pollard Alliance's list.

It's the third straight year Edwards, 50, has been on the list, but Wooten said members of the advisory panel believe he is a more qualified candidate now. The Vikings are second in the NFL in scoring defense and second in total defense.

"He's never been where he is right now,'' Wooten said. "He's right up at the top of guys going forward.''

Wooten said Zimmer has endorsed Edwards for a head position.

"Mike Zimmer has done a great job of explaining how they work together even though Mike said that he simply wanted to call the plays himself," Wooten said. "A lot of head coaches call the plays, so that's not a negative in any way. ... Mike is one of his biggest supporters.''

Wooten also said Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray is on a list of recommended candidates to be a defensive coordinator. Gray previously has been a coordinator with Buffalo and Tennessee.

BRIEFLY

* Not practicing for the Vikings were tackle Mike Remmers (lower back) and tight end David Morgan (concussion) while center Pat Elflein (shoulder) was limited. Morgan was hurt early in the first quarter Sunday at Atlanta. Remmers, who played with the Panthers from 2014-16, has missed four straight games, the first three with a concussion.

* On the heels of Monday's controversial penalty-ridden game between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, Zimmer said he talks to his team about playing within the rules. "We talk to them about playing clean," he said. "We talk to them about how you have to put a target on the receiver where you want to hit him legally, and same thing on running backs and quarterbacks. We don't want to be a high-penalized team.''

* In fan voting for the Pro Bowl, Griffen continues to lead all defensive ends, and Vikings safety Harrison Smith leads all free safeties. Atlanta's Julio Jones has taken over the lead from Minnesota's Adam Thielen at wide receiver.

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