Decision on Vikings Offensive Lineman Looms
You blinked, and it was time to ponder the final years of Garrett Bradbury’s rookie contract.
Drafted in 2019 as an alleged anchoring fix to the Minnesota Vikings longstanding pass-protection atrocities, Bradbury was a 1st-Round solution to a problem generally remedied in later rounds. But then-general manager Rick Spielman didn’t want to leave anything to chance. So, he drafted Bradbury in the 1st Round of the 2019 NFL Draft, passing on players like Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, and Jeffery Simmons.
Now, the Vikings have less than four weeks to decide the future of Bradbury, opting to re-up with the fifth year of his rookie contract for $13.2 million or making the 2022 season Bradbury’s swan song. The decision looms and is due by May 2nd.
At the NFL Combine in March, new Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell touted Bradbury’s athleticism and mentioned the center as a player he studied coming out of college. While that is certainly not an endorsement of pressing the green button on the man’s fifth-year option, Bradbury is likely to get a fourth audition with a new offense-first regime in place. Otherwise, the Vikings would’ve explored a bonafide center in free agency — like JC Tretter.
This is Bradbury’s Pro Football Focus resume through three seasons:
- 2019 = 58.1
- 2020 = 61.4
- 2021 = 60.2
Specifically, here are the pass-blocking grades from PFF:
- 2019 = 38.7
- 2020 = 38.8
- 2021 = 43.7
And that’s embarrassing.
Mike Kaye from Pro Football Network recently predicted Minnesota would not afford Bradbury the fifth year, stating:
“A $13.2 million salary for a solid but not spectacular center is a tough number to digest. While Bradbury could get locked in with a long-term contract extension, the new Vikings regime probably doesn’t want to commit to a big salary like that at this point, even for a homegrown talent.”– Mike Kaye | Pro Football Network
Meanwhile, Marc Ross from NFL.com has a different — and bizarre — idea, claiming the Vikings will indeed choose yes on Bradbury’s spendy final year:
“Exercise the option? Yes. Bradbury has been a solid foundational piece along Minnesota’s offensive line. He’s missed just four games in three seasons and played well enough for the Vikings to exercise the fifth-year option. An extension is nothing they need to rush into, but they should eventually consider it, with Bradbury being good enough to rank in the top half of NFL centers.”– Marc Ross | NFL.com
Here’s the deal: Pro Football Network is right, and NFL.com is wrong. If Bradbury stays with the Vikings beyond 2022, it will be because he performed admirably with O’Connell’s pals guiding the ship — and it will be on contract extension sans the fifth-year option because Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will decline that badboy by May 2nd.
Because of swings-and-misses like Bradbury in the 1st Round, Vikings fans are even considering using a 1st-Round pick — again — this year on a sure-fire interior offensive lineman like Tyler Linderbaum.
At least Bradbury had the sweet circus catch against the Green Bay Packers in 2021, though.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).