Star linebacker Eric Kendricks re-signed with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday, as confirmed by the team in a news release.
Citing sources familiar with the contract negotiations, Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reported that the 26-year-old Kendricks inked a five-year contract extension worth $50 million, with $25 million guaranteed, according to NFL.com. This allows the young linebacker to join several other defensive mainstays with long-term deals with the Vikings, including All-Pro defensive backs Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes and defensive end Everson Griffen, and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Kendricks, who was selected by the Vikings in the second round of the 2015 draft, will also be playing alongside defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year who signed a free agent contract with the Vikings last month.
According to a report from ESPN, Eric Kendricks was also the first Minnesota Vikings player with a contract set to expire in 2019 who was signed to an extension. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs, linebacker Anthony Barr, and defensive end Danielle Hunter have not yet been offered new deals as of this writing. They will be eligible to walk as free agents in 2019 should Minnesota choose not to extend their contracts.
“Eric is just another young core player for us,” read a statement from Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.
“Great player on the field. He does nothing but represent us in a first-class way out in the community, he’s a leader in the defense, he’s a leader in our locker room. His work ethic, his prep that he puts in week in and week out is why he’s such a dynamic player for us on Sundays.”
In an interview with ESPN, Kendricks expressed optimism heading into the 2018 NFL season, especially since the Vikings made one of the bigger moves in the ongoing offseason by signing free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins to a three-year contract. He said that he’s particularly “excited” to practice against Cousins, who broke out as a star with the Washington Redskins after replacing oft-injured former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III as the team’s starting quarterback.
Although he has yet to achieve All-Pro status or be named to the Pro Bowl, Eric Kendricks has been a key part of the Minnesota Vikings’ defense, which was ranked second in defensive efficiency rating for the 2017 season by Football Outsiders. He led the team in total tackles in each of his first three seasons, making him the first Vikings player in over five decades to achieve such a feat, according to NFL.com. Kendricks will be entering the 2018 season with career totals of 209 solo tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, and two interceptions.