Although the Vikings likely aren't looking to replace tight ends Jim Kleinsasser or Jermaine Wiggins in the starting lineup, Byrd could turn into a strong developmental prospect. The Vikings don't have any of their tight ends scheduled for free agency.
In 2005, Byrd was a Mackey Award and All-American candidate who could stretch the field from the tight end spot. He had arthroscopic surgery to remove torn cartilage in a toe prior to the 2005 spring practices but assumed the starting role upon his return. He also suffered a broken jaw.
In 2004, he broke his left kneecap playing in a pickup basketball game and missed the first four games, but still managed 37 receptions for 384 yards (10.4 average) with three TDs. He also missed spring practices and the latter part of the 2003 season with torn ligaments in his left knee.
Byrd also has a local connection, attending Breck, a private high school in Minneapolis where he caught 62 passes for 1,236 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior tight end and had a team-high 108 tackles, including 21 for losses, as a linebacker. He also had four sacks and four interceptions. He had an outstanding junior season as well, catching 56 passes for 1,280 yards and 17 TDs, as well as garnering 109 tackles on defense.
At Breck, he also was a standout at basketball and track, starting as an eighth-grader after getting a waiver to do so.
Schottenheimer began his tenure with the Lions in 2002 as their defensive coordinator, following up coordinating stints at the Washington Redskins in 2001 and Kansas City Chiefs in 1999-2000. He has 15 years of NFL coaching experience. He also coached with the Cleveland Browns from 1987-88.
It was in Kansas City that Schottenheimer established a name for himself in NFL circles. In 1999, Schottenheimer's Chiefs defense set a franchise record by producing nine defensive touchdowns, the NFL's best mark. Kansas City also led the NFL with a plus-21 turnover ratio and ranked second with 45 takeaways, 20 fumble recoveries and 125 points off takeaways. The Chiefs ended that season ranked second in the AFC in interceptions (25). During his time as the team's defensive backs coach, the Chiefs' secondary helped the defense allow only 16.4 points per game, equaling the lowest mark in the NFL. He also helped mold defensive backs James Hasty and Dale Carter into perennial Pro Bowl players.
He also coached special teams for two seasons with Cleveland in 1987.
Schottenheimer was the linebackers coach at Notre Dame in 1986 under Lou Holtz after holding the same position at Louisiana State (1984-85). He also was a defensive assistant for one season at Tulane (1983) and five seasons at Michigan State (1978-82). He began his coaching career as defensive coordinator at William Patterson State College in New Jersey (1974-75).
He is the younger brother of San Diego Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer.