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Minnesota Vikings have interest in retaining former first round pick with contract extension this offseason

If you polled most Minnesota Vikings fans following the 2020 and 2021 seasons, most would likely agree. Moving on from Garrett Bradbury would probably be a wise move. Yet, the 18th overall pick from the 2019 NFL Draft suddenly broke out in spectacular fashion under a new regime in 2022 and finally showed signs of the center he was drafted to be.

Bradbury finished with career-high grades across the board, per Pro Football Focus. He posted a new career-high 70.2 offensive grade, 72.4 run block grade, and a 68.1 pass block grade. As mentioned, these were all career highs, with the pass-blocking being the biggest area of improvement, where his previous best was a woeful 43.7 grade.

For the now-pass-heavy Vikings offense, Bradbury’s leap in play was exactly what Kirk Cousins needed to have more time in the pocket, which led to Justin Jefferson leading the NFL in receiving yards.

But now, after four inconsistent years, with the Vikings already declining his fifth-year player option prior to last season, Bradbury is set for free agency, where he’s viewed as one of, if not the top player available at his position.

Related: 2023 NFL mock draft: Indianapolis Colts trade up to No. 1, Raiders move up for QB

Local insider suggests Minnesota Vikings want to keep Garrett Bradbury

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Yet, the Vikings don’t want their former first-round pick out of North Carolina State to hit the open market. As Darren Wolfson of KSTP reported, the Vikings have “interest” in re-signing their starting center of the past four seasons.

If so, the Vikings will have some salary cap gymnastics to do as they look to get under the 2023 spending limit. As of this publication, the Vikings are $20 million over the limit, as in, they need to shed costs.

Had general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the rest of the front office decided to pick up Bradbury’s fifth-year option, he would be in line to receive $13.2 million in 2023. Spotrac projects his annual average salary to be somewhere near $11.9 million.

But the alternative is letting veteran journeyman Chris Reed take over snapping duties. Or as Wolfson points out, possibly reaching a deal with Connor McGovern of the New York Jets, to which the NFL insider noted there is a “mutual interest.” For what it’s worth, McGovern finished with a similar PFF grade of 69.6 in 2022 while allowing five sacks. Bradbury allowed just two sacks.

Ultimately, the Vikings have several other key roster decisions to make before they can start paying their own, which is likely to include a record-breaking contract extension for Justin Jefferson this offseason.

With several high-priced veterans such as Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, and Harrison Smith all potentially looking at contract adjustments, if not more, the Vikings have some work to do this offseason.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2023: From 1-400, Derek Carr, Bobby Wagner join growing market

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