“Obviously didn’t end well for us, but it was good for my brother and that’s good for the family,” Eric Kendricks said Monday. “It’s one of the things we dreamed of growing up and playing the sport.”
The question for Vikings fans is whether it makes Eric any hungrier for an NFL championship.
“I can’t say I’m any hungrier, I’ve been hungry,” he said. “I just know what I want, and I’m going to work to get it.”
Kendricks’ work ethic is one of the reasons the Vikings signed him to a five-year extension worth $50 million to remain in Minnesota through 2023.
“Eric is just another young core player for us, a great player on the field who represents us in a first-class way in the community,” general manager Rick Spielman said Monday. “He’s a leader in the locker room, and his work ethic is the reason he’s such a dynamic player on Sundays.”
The new deal is worth $25 million guaranteed. Under a previous deal, Kendricks is owed $1.13 million in 2018. Players began the offseason Monday with voluntary workouts at their new facilities in Eagan.
“Just happy we got this deal done,” Kendricks said. “I want to be part of this team. We have a special locker room, and a fun defense to play on, especially.”
Kendricks, 26, led the team in tackles in his first three seasons after joining the team as a second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He has 367 tackles (253 solo), 30 tackles for loss, 26 quarterback hurries, 21 pass break-ups and two interceptions.
The extension is the second major new contract this offseason for the Vikings, who signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to a record free-agent deal worth a guaranteed $84 million over the next three seasons. Case Keenum, who led the Vikings to their first NFC title game since 2009, left for Denver.
Cousins, 29, averaged 4,392 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions after becoming the Redskins’ starter in 2015 and his new teammates appear happy to have him on board.
“The hype is real. Everybody’s super excited,” Kendricks said. “We’re always excited to play football here; like I said, the locker room is the best I’ve been in, and this is the best team I’ve ever been on. The addition of Kirk Cousins is not going to hurt us by any means. I’m excited to see how he can throw the rock, and to practice against him.”
Spring drills begin April 16, and the NFL Draft is scheduled for April 28-30 in Chicago.
Here are the draft picks the Vikings hold heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. The Vikings have the 30th overall pick in the first round and eight total in the seven-round draft, including three in the sixth round. The team will hold Organized Team Activities May 22-24 and May 29-31.
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