CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns’ front office is doing what they can to surround rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens with veteran assistants.
According to NFL Network/NFL.com reporter Tom Pelissero, the Browns are set to hire former Minnesota Vikings assistant Mike Priefer as their next special-teams coordinator.
“I had an unforgettable eight seasons working for the Minnesota Vikings,” Priefer said in a statement through Pelissero. “We were an extremely successful team all around, and I loved being a part of the franchise’s growth.
“My contract with the Vikings expired after this season, and when the Vikings asked to re-sign me, I decided to humbly decline and have taken a new job with the Cleveland Browns. I am excited to work with Coach Kitchens, John Dorsey and the entire Browns organization.”
A 17-year NFL coaching veteran, Priefer served eight seasons as Minnesota’s special-teams coordinator (2011-2018). Prior to joining the Vikings’ staff, Priefer held the special-teams coordinator position with the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.
Priefer began his NFL career with the Jacksonville Jaguars as their assistant special-teams coordinator before joining the New York Giants (2003-2005) in a similar capacity.
Since Priefer joined the NFL ranks, his teams have been known for their big-play potential. His special-teams units have accounted for 26 scores (12 on kickoffs, nine on punt returns, three blocked punts, one mishandled fake field goal attempt and a safety).
Priefer’s teams have blocked 23 kicks (nine punts, nine field goals, five PAT tries) since 2002.
Since Priefer’s arrival in Minnesota, the Vikings have the most special-teams touchdowns in the National Football League (seven on kickoff returns, five on punt returns and two blocked punts).
During his career, Priefer helped special-teams player David Tyree, punter Chris Hanson, return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson and kicker Blair Walsh earn Pro Bowl status. Additionally, Walsh and Patterson were first-team All-Pro special-teams players as rookies in 2012, and again earned All-Pro honors in 2013.
Priefer was part of five trips to the postseason, an NFC East Division Championship in 2005 and two NFC North Division crowns in 2015 and 2017.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Priefer is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served five years as a helicopter pilot with tours of duty on the USS America in both the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea.