Center Garrett Bradbury finished his fourth Vikings season — his first under head coach Kevin O'Connell — saying he didn't want to be anywhere else. And the former first-round pick will stay in Minnesota after agreeing to a contract extension.
"Happy to be back," Bradbury wrote Tuesday in a text message.
The Vikings announced agreements with Bradbury, backup quarterback Nick Mullens and Andrew DePaola on Tuesday afternoon. Kicker Greg Joseph's agent, Brett Tessler, said Joseph had signed a one-year extension with the Vikings as well. DePaola's extension is for three years and up to $4 million, per his agent Sean Stellato.
When NFL free agency officially begins Wednesday afternoon, the Vikings are also expected to add ex-Ravens tight end Josh Oliver, former Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport and former Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. At the same time, the Vikings must be compliant with the league's $224.8 million salary cap — a line Minnesota is toeing — for next season.
Mullens, who was acquired via trade from Las Vegas last summer for a 2024 seventh-round pick, will again serve as the Vikings' No. 2 quarterback behind Kirk Cousins, who is entering the final year of his contract.
Joseph is coming off a clutch season in which he made 22 of 23 field goals inside the 50-yard line. While he was four of 10 from beyond 50 yards, he set the franchise record with a game-winning, 61-yard kick in the Dec. 24 win against the Giants. Joseph also had game-winning kicks against the Saints, Commanders, Bills and Colts.
DePaola, an NFL journeyman who turns 36 in July, was a first-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection last season.
Bradbury, the highest-drafted center in franchise history at 18th overall in 2019 out of North Carolina State, was scheduled to become a free agent Wednesday after the team declined a fifth-year option last year in his rookie contract. But following a rebound season, he'll stay on a three-year deal worth up to $15.75 million, according to NFL Media.
Bradbury played well through 12 starts before a lower-back injury led to a five-game absence. After returning for the 31-24 NFC wild-card playoff loss to the Giants, Bradbury said he wanted to sign a new deal with the Vikings and told O'Connell: "This is the most fun year I've had" in Minnesota.
"Obviously winning is fun and that takes care of a lot of it," Bradbury said in January, "but just the day-to-day life here, it's awesome here right now. They got a good thing building here."
Bradbury's return ensures the Vikings will have all five starting offensive linemen under contract through at least next season; left guard Ezra Cleveland is a free agent in 2024. The Vikings' pending free agents this week include reserve offensive linemen Austin Schlottmann, who was the backup center last year, and tackle Oli Udoh.
Since accepting the Vikings job last year, O'Connell has spoken highly about Bradbury's potential, but the team opted against a lofty $16 million option — a decision made last May — for 2023. He had a rocky first three seasons in Minnesota, where he was benched briefly in November 2021 for Mason Cole.
The terms of Bradbury's new deal match Cole's contract signed with the Steelers a year ago.
Last year the Vikings offensive line, along with Bradbury, stabilized as they stayed together through training camp and started the first 10 games together last season. Bradbury, who has started 57 of 66 regular-season games since he was drafted, allowed only one or no pressures in pass protection during six of eight games to open the season, per Pro Football Focus.
But injuries, including to Bradbury and right tackle Brian O'Neill, thinned the line of the Vikings' seventh-ranked offense by season's end.
After the season, Bradbury described back spasms he said were aggravated in a Dec. 17 car accident after a game in which he didn't play. He said he was told the lower-back injury "shouldn't hinder anything" next year, and that he felt well after playing every snap in the Jan. 15 playoff loss.