Vikings Lineman’s Next Contract Could Be Expensive

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Skol Nation currently has one main topic: the selection of the new franchise quarterback, perhaps as soon as April 25, when the Vikings hold two first-rounders who could be packaged to move up in the draft order. Besides that, Justin Jefferson’s pending contract extension is drawing some attention because it is a no-brainer, but it still hasn’t happened.

Vikings Lineman’s Next Contract Could Be Expensive

Vikings Lineman's Next Contract Could Be Expensive
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Jefferson is widely expected to sign a record-breaking contract for wideouts (and possibly non-QBs), and after four seasons in the league, he surely deserves it. Vikings fans and media pundits talk about the contract or a potential trade more than anything outside of the QB position. One of his teammates, meanwhile, is also eligible to sign a new contract, and his salary will be huge, too.

In Rick Spielman’s final draft as Minnesota’s general manager in 2021, the longtime executive gifted the franchise a parting present roughly nine months before his contract would be terminated. Despite trading down from the 14th to the 23rd pick, he selected Virginia Tech’s left tackle, Christian Darrisaw.

Since he has already played three seasons and is entering the final year of his rookie contract, although it should be noted that picking up his fifth-year option is an easy decision, he is now eligible to sign a contract extension. The lineman is exactly one season behind Jefferson’s contract status, and his new deal first came into focus last year.

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The offensive line has seen a boost in value, especially the interior lineman. Offensive guards have been handsomely paid in recent weeks. Robert Hunt’s annual salary of $20 million stands out, while Kevin Dotson and Jonah Jackson signed for $16 million and $17 million, respectively. Landon Dickerson’s $21 million/year deal leads the league among guards salaries.

Interior defenders are also becoming more critical and expensive. They used to be an afterthought while edge-rushers made the big bucks. In correlation, the offensive guards see their numbers spike because they need to stop Aaron Donald and Chris Jones. While the defensive tackles have reached similar levels as outside rushers, the offensive tackles are still superior paid despite the recent run on Pro Bowl-caliber guards.

Texans tackle Laremy Tunsil and his $25 million per season lead the NFL, followed by Andrew Thomas and Trent Williams, who both make roughly $23 million yearly. Dion Dawkins passed the $20 million mark just like right tackles Jawaan Taylor and Lane Johnson.

In addition to those guys, the Eagles recently extended the deal of blindside protector Jordan Mailata, who agreed to a three-year deal worth $66 million.

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Considering all those numbers, Darrisaw will surely command an annual pay of at least $20 million. Regardless of whether he is better than those mentioned players, the next man will always be paid as the salary cap inflates.

The good news for Vikings fans is that Darrisaw deserves every penny of the team’s future investment. He has been every bit as good as advertised in his three-year career. While he missed all but 12 games in his debut season, he showed flashes in his 10 starts.

Before his sophomore campaign, he drew comparisons to Trent Williams, a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of the greatest offensive linemen ever to play the game. Both share a thunderous power and the athletic tools to make plays in space. And Darrisaw lived up to the hype. A pair of concussions cost him three games and an ankle injury in two contests in 2023, but he bullies pass-rushers, even elite ones, whenever he is on the field.

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Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-best tackle in the league in 2022 and ranked seventh in 2023. His excellence in pass protection and run blocking is a huge plus compared to other players specializing in one aspect of the game.

Darrisaw is undoubtedly one of the building blocks for the organization’s future. Having an elite left tackle will help a potential rookie quarterback flourish. The contract talks will heat up in the summer when training camp is around the corner. At some point in the next 17 months (the fifth-year option buys an extra year), the Vikings should extend their star tackle.

The lineman is still only 24 years old.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt