Vikings Reach 5-year, $50 Million Extension With LB Eric Kendricks

Minnesota locks up a key defender for five more years.

According to multiple sources, the Minnesota Vikings have reached a contract extension with starting middle linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported the extension is for five years, $50 million with $25 million guaranteed. The Vikings had roughly $17 million in cap space before announcing the move.


Drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft (45th overall), Kendricks has been a vital part of Minnesota’s No. 1 defense. In three seasons, the UCLA product has played in 45 out of a possible 48 games. He’s led the team in tackling every year since being drafted.

Kendricks, 26, had a Pro Football Focus grade of 75.1 last season, ranking No. 37 among linebackers. Since 2015 he has 209 solo tackles with 16 passes defended, 7.5 sacks and two interceptions. He returned both interceptions for touchdowns.

More extensions looming?

With one 2019 free agent locked up a year early, the Vikings may turn their attention to other players. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs, linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive end Danielle Hunter are scheduled to become free agents after the season and may also be in line for extensions before the regular season.

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Sean Borman

Sean Borman is a writer with Minnesota roots that's still somehow an optimist. He was an intern with the Vikings during college and is an IT nerd by day. You can find Sean on the golf course and on Twitter @SeanBormanNFL.

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  1. Very excited about this. There have been many times when I’ve thought Eric has performed better than Barr. Kendricks has a motor that just won’t quit. Extremely smart to get him signed long-term.

    1. He checks all the boxes. Very excited about this move too, Andrew. Didn’t like the thought of him leaving.

  2. Well, THIS is big news! I think Barr is worth a little more than Kendricks, maybe $11 million a year, so I hope that gets done soon, too. The key question regarding the salary cap is when does the money kick in for Kendricks, this year or in 2019? If it’s this year, once the draft class and UDFA’s are signed the team could really be limited to the free agent scrap heap when it comes to adding any veteran free agent defensive backs or offensive linemen. I for one an not looking forward to seeing Marcus Sherels listed as CB4 and Tom Compton as RG1 or 2 going into the season.

    And, you know, the other scary thing regarding the salary cap is that of the four starters needing extensions this year or next, Kendricks might be the cheapest, and extending Diggs might force a renegotiated raise for Thielen (and if you have no problem with teams forcing players to restructure contracts, you have no leg to stand on objecting to a player demanding the same). Pleasant dreams, Rick.

    1. Yeah I’d say Barr’s value is in the $12 million range.

      Many thought Kirk Cousins’ contract would be front-loaded but it turned out to be the opposite. I’m very interested to see how the Vikings structure Kendricks’ deal. It could mirror how the (potential) future extensions are laid out.

      It certainly appears at this point that the team got a bargain with Thielen’s contract.

      1. Yeah here is that crazy Viking fan once again ~ First off I think getting Kendricks long term is huge ~ Wait the Vikings wouldn’t be able to do this after signing Kirk ~ Looks like Spielman was right once again when he said the Vikings were in great cap shape after signing Kirk and Sheldon along with K. Wright ~

        First let me say I believe the Vikings will be watching K. Wright very closely and how he works with Kirk ~ And as far as I know, Wright doesn’t have a big injury history ~

        As for Diggs I believe he will have to play out his rookie contract giving the Vikings one more year to see if he can finally make it through 16 games ~ Last I checked he has missed 2 games or more each season over the last 7 years ~ I don’t think he will be worth what most think he will likely be asking for ~ Yeah Diggs had the catch of a lifetime vs the Saints in the playoffs thanks in large part to some lame a$$ missed tackle by the Saints DB ~ And Diggs is a fine WR ~ But Thielen made the same kind of catch and run vs the Rams last season and he too is a fine WR ~ Nor has Diggs out pace Thielen in yards or big plays ~ As a Viking fan I would love to keep Diggs but not if he is talking crazy money ~ He nor Thielen are true outstand #1 WR’s ~ They IMHO are both great #2 WR’s that work well in the Vikings scheme ~ Wright is a fine slot WR who can play outside if needed ~ Plus they still have this year to see how Treadwell and Cole look with Kirk at QB ~ So I don’t see Diggs a must resigning for this year ~

        I wouldn’t be shocked if they got Barr and Hunter signed before the start of the season ~ Diggs is a worry for next year ~ And if the Vikings once again play well they will have other players like
        Sheldon Richardson & K. Wright wanting to sign one year kind of prove it deal ~ while having a year to look at players signed this year to see who is more important to the roster ~

        This is where Zimmer & Spielman don’t get the credit they deserve ~ They along with the coaching staff and the roster they have put together are the reasons why vet now find the Vikings worth signing with on one year deal with ~ In hopes of proving to the Vikings they are worth a long-term deal or some other team ~ It’s a win~win for them and the Vikings ~

        I told you I was crazy ~ LOL

        1. Whether we like it or not, Gordon, the wide receiver valuations we saw this Spring awarded people with flaws in their resumes equal to or greater than Diggs. Heck, the fact that Jarius Wright is still making more than Kendall Wright makes no sense at all! But given how poorly many recent first round wideouts have played, I wouldn’t be too quick to let Diggs walk out the door. If we can get him signed to an extension comparable to Kendricks, I’d make that deal right now, even if it means Thielen’s agent comes a-knockin’ on Spielman’s door. I’m worried that the better a 2018 Diggs has, the more the Vikes will have to pay him, and I’m talking increments of a million dollars every time he makes it through another four games or so.

          I’m not sure what I would advise Diggs to do if I were his agent, but if I were Hunter’s rep, I’d tell him not to sign an extension until after he’s played a year with Sheldon Richardson providing the best inside pressure we’ve seen since Kevin William’s heyday.

          1. And, yeah, Sean, it will be very interesting to see how the Vikes have structured this deal given how they bucked the trend with other teams of frontloading deals. If memory serves, in fact, I believe that Spielman likes to backload them, maybe frontloading the guaranteed money but leaving the team an out once the guaranteed money is paid and large un-guaranteed amounts in the back years of the deal allow him to force the players to restructure their deals.

          2. cka2nd ~ I love Diggs and hope they find a way to keep him ~ But how do you pay him like a Super Start when you can count on him missing 2 games or maybe more every single season if you look at his past 7 years ~

            The only reason he didn’t reach 1000+ yards every season was injuries that cause him to miss two games and play at far less in a number of other games ~ The guys is a Super Start talent you can not count on ~ What happens if he misses the playoff this year or force to play at 70% or less like he has in the past ~ Who will the Viking turn to then ~

            Not if they could sign him to a Hunter kind of deal with some kind of clause for injuries I would be all for it ~ However I know just enough to get you and I into some bad trouble ~ LOL ~ So i gladly leave these kind of things up to Spielman and the front office to work out ~

            Iagree on Hunter ~ But I’m hoping his agent isn’t that smart ~ LOL ~

  3. 2018 cap may only take a 2.1M increase for Kendricks.
    If the VIkings extended Kendrick like they have everyone else recently then the 5 year extension is really 6 years as 5 additional years are added after the last year of the rookie deal. The signing bonus is paid now but increases in base salary dont take effect until 2019. with the numbers provided for total payouts and signing bonus..I estimate his cap to be at 3.7 this season (up from 1.6), 6.6 in 2019, 9.6 in 2020, 11.1 in 2021 and 2022, and 11.6 in 2023. actually quite a bargain and should fit into the salary cap nicely.

    1. “The signing bonus is paid now but increases in base salary dont take effect until 2019.”

      Sounds good to me, I hope you are right.

      “with the numbers provided for total payouts and signing bonus..I estimate his cap to be at 3.7 this season (up from 1.6), 6.6 in 2019, 9.6 in 2020, 11.1 in 2021 and 2022, and 11.6 in 2023.”

      6.6 + 9.6 + 11.1 + 11.1 + 11.6 = 50.0, which does not include your expected $2.1 million increase this year (his signing bonus, I take it). I agree that this should fit into the salary cap each year quite nicely and thank you for providing these estimates, but has anyone seen the actual details yet?

      1. I don’t know the details yet..just a guess based on how they have done prior extensions and unconfirmed details from PFT about total payout amounts throughout the contract…I also think the last year of my estimate should really be 9.5M not 11.6.. as signing bonuses only spread out for five years and I extended it six…

  4. Over the cap finally has the details on this and it is in fact a 5 year 50 million extension to the 1 year million and change he had left. He’s now under contract for the next 6 years for just under 52 million total giving this a much more in tune with the market $8.6ish per year average. With those details coming out, I’m happy with this contract and think it is fair for both Kendrick’s and the team. The cap # for this year is in fact the 3.7 RW mentioned and only 6.6 the following year, so they will be able to front load one of the other guys. Question now is who. My preference is Hunter both because we already know he can put up a 12+ sack season that will pump up his value in free agency, and because if he’s going into next year knowing that sacks could determine his free agency value, you end up giving him incentive to play outside the scheme which could hurt the overall defense.