The Minnesota Vikings are building for the future and a recent first-round selection figures to solve a big piece of the roster puzzle for years to come.
Left tackle Christian Darrisaw was playing at an All-Pro level before concussion issues disrupted his second professional campaign mid-season. Pro Football Focus still ranked Darrisaw the second-best offensive tackle in the NFL out of 81 players who qualified at the position in 2022 with an overall player grade of 90.4.
Playing a premium position, the No. 23 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft figures to be a top priority for the Vikings when he comes up for extension eligibility in the summer of 2024. Matt Verderame of Sports Illustrated projected on Friday, May 26, that Minnesota will pick up the lineman’s fifth-year option before extending him long-term.
“The Vikings have been hit-and-miss in recent years with picking offensive linemen in the first round, but Darrisaw was an unquestionable hit. Minnesota watched the tackle dominate on quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ blindside,” Verderame wrote. “The only question is health, with eight games missed across Darrisaw’s first two years. He should remain a fixture with the Vikings for another contract or two.”
Vikings Must Pay High Price to Extend Christian Darrisaw
What Darrisaw’s number will be for the 2026 season has yet to be determined. Franchises reserve the right to extend first-round picks for a fifth year, while all other draft selections are eligible for unrestricted free agency following four seasons with the teams that selected them.
The kicker is that the fifth-year price for a first-rounder is both significant and fully-guaranteed, which can create some difficult decisions. The exact cost is figured based on snaps played and Pro-Bowl nods earned, per Over The Cap.
The Cleveland Browns, for instance, picked up tackle Jedrick Wills’ fifth-year option for 2025 this summer. Wills was the 10th overall pick in his draft but has not played to the level through three seasons that Darrisaw has achieved across two years. Playing time factored in to push Wills’ number north of $14 million.
Wills missed only five games over three years while Darrisaw has already missed eight through two campaigns. However, the base options for fifth-year extensions almost always go up annually and should Darrisaw remain relatively healthy while earning a trip to the Pro Bowl, Minnesota fans ought to expect his number to exceed Wills’ by several million dollars. Darrisaw is entering the third season of a four-year contract in 2023, which pays him $13.3 million total.
Christian Darrisaw Arguably Vikings’ Second-Best Offensive Player
Whatever the price for Darrisaw’s fifth year ends up being, the cost of his services annually will only go up once the Vikings tap him for the franchise tag or, more likely, sign him to a multiyear extension.
Such a deal could end up superseding Darrisaw’s fifth-year option even if Minnesota exercises it, though the Vikings’ salary cap situation argues that a multiyear deal won’t happen next offseason, which is the soonest one could be signed.
Case in point, Minnesota picked up the fifth-year option for All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson in May, which pays him just shy of $19.75 million in 2025. The wideout has played in every single game for the Vikings, regular season and postseason, since joining the team as a rookie. He has also made three Pro Bowls, which maxed out his fifth-year option total.
Jefferson is expected to sign the richest wide receiver deal in NFL history, though whether he will do so before playing out that nearly $20 million one-year extension remains to be seen. Darrisaw could face a similar situation as the Vikings navigate out of what was one of the worst salary cap situations in the league entering this offseason.