Vikings Sign Former 1st-Round Pick at Value, Solidify O-Line

O'Connell, Cousins, Vikings

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings watches during warmups alongside quarterback Kirk Cousins prior to a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on January 8, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings have secured the middle of the offensive line for the next handful of years after a quality signing on Tuesday, March 14.

Minnesota signed center Garrett Bradbury to a long-term deal, ensuring some continuity on the offensive line in front of quarterback Kirk Cousins who is also expected back with the Vikings for at least next season, and potentially longer. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network broke the news via Twitter.

“The #Vikings have reached agreement with C Garrett Bradbury to return to Minnesota, source says,” Garafolo reported. “The 2019 first-round pick remains Kirk Cousins’ center.”

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network subsequently reported that Bradbury’s contract is three years long for a total of $15.75 million.

Vikings’ Bet to Decline Bradbury’s Fifth-Year Option Pays Off

Garrett Bradbury

GettyCenter Garrett Bradbury of the Minnesota Vikings warms up before a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium on August 18, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The Vikings selected Bradbury out of North Carolina State University with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Due to his draft position, Minnesota had the choice last offseason to exercise a fifth-year option on Bradbury’s contract, but the Vikings declined that option.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s strategy was a risky one, thought it appears to have paid off. Often times, teams decline the fifth-year option either because they don’t plan on keeping the player in-house or because they don’t see the player matching the spiked value of the fifth year on the contract.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Bradbury’s salary would have fallen in the $13.2 million range for 2023 had the Vikings exercised their option on his deal. Instead, he will make just $2.55 million more than that over the next three seasons.

Bradbury’s case is somewhat unique, considering he played well enough in his fourth campaign that the Vikings want him back, which was far from a foregone conclusion. PFF ranked Bradbury 11th out of 36 centers who qualified at the position last year with an overall player grade of 67.5.

That the relationship between Bradbury and the franchise was not damaged to the point that the center wanted to look elsewhere for employment adds to the unique quality of his situation in Minnesota.

Vikings Add TE Josh Oliver, Re-Sign Blake Brandel as Backup Tackle

Josh Oliver, Ravens

GettyTight end Josh Oliver, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, reacts after a play during a game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on October 16, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Along with Bradbury, the Vikings also intend to sign tight end Josh Oliver to a three-year contract worth $21 million once free agency officially begins on Wednesday. Oliver was among the best run-blocking tight ends in the NFL over his last two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. Run blocking is also Bradbury’s best area of performance, per PFF.

Back in February, Minnesota signed backup tackle Blake Brandel to a one-year deal before allowing him to become an exclusive rights free agent. Brandel was a crucial cog on the offensive line last season, filling in for starting left tackle Christian Darrisaw and starting right tackle Brian O’Neill when they missed time due to various injuries.

The situation at running back in Minnesota remains unresolved, as trade offers have been made for starter Dalvin Cook who has refused to take a pay cut, while the team continues to negotiate a new potential deal for Cook’s long-time backup Alexander Mattison. But whoever winds up starting in the backfield next season for the Vikings already has much of his offensive line solidified in front of him.

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