While not necessarily true for all Super Bowl teams, it’s often said that defense wins championships. After working out contract extensions with two of its most significant defensive starters, it’s clear the Minnesota Vikings believe this mantra.
Early last week, the team announced a new deal with defensive end Everson Griffen, who will likely finish his career in Minnesota after inking his name on the dotted line. And in the secondary, it’s Xavier Rhodes benefitting from the organization’s emphasis on locking down the young defensive core.
As first reported by the NFL’s Ian Rapoport, Rhodes signed a five-year, $70 million contract extension with the Vikings early Sunday afternoon. The new deal keeps Rhodes in Minnesota through the 2022 season and includes $41 million in guaranteed money. Over the course of the contract, which Joe Banner labeled “very good” for the team, Rhodes can make a total of $78 million.
The announcement comes at a particularly positive time in Rhodes’ life, as his second child is on the way. Upon signing his name to the contract, Rhodes called the move “life-changing” for himself and his growing family.[quote_center]“A childhood dream. A dream turning into a reality. I can’t believe I’m actually doing this.”[/quote_center]
Since being drafted 25th-overall out of Florida State in 2013, Rhodes has enjoyed a humble rise to NFL stardom. His career started to take off in 2014, when head coach and defensive back guru Mike Zimmer arrived as leader of the franchise.
In his three seasons under Zimmer, Rhodes has shut down some of the game’s best receivers, including Odell Beckham Jr., Kelvin Benjamin, and DeAndre Hopkins. The trust he’s gained from Zimmer allows Rhodes to shadow an opponent’s most dangerous weapon, and often times, eliminate them from the game plan.
Following a career-best campaign in 2016, Rhodes earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. He finished the year with five interceptions and was named the Vikings’ team defensive MVP. Over the course of his four-year career, Rhodes has 236 tackles, seven interceptions, 68 pass breakups, eight tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles.