According to multiple reports, the Minnesota Vikings have reached an agreement on a massive contract extension with offensive tackle Brian O’Neill. Minnesota is giving their stud bookend a five-year extension worth, wait for it… $92.5 million, with $53.4 million in total guarantees. Yowza!
O’Neill is now contractually tied to Minnesota for the next six seasons, as he’s still in the final year of his rookie four-year deal. This shiny new payday makes O’Neill the second-highest paid right tackle in all of football, trailing just Ryan Ramczyk and his five-year, $96 million contract in New Orleans. It’s a lot of money, but general manager Rick Spielman made a smart decision. Quality tackles like O’Neill are tough to come by, and even more difficult to replace.
O’Neill will earn an average of $18.5 million per year, and the $53.4 million in guarantees tops the recent deals signed by fellow right tackles Taylor Moton ($43 million) and Braden Smith ($42 million).
While it was obvious that O’Neill was due for a new contract, the former second-round pick always made it clear that he wanted to stay in Minnesota. “I’m trying to be respectful of the process [between team and agent] but nothing would make me happier than to stay here long term,” O’Neill told ESPN’s Courtney Cronin back in June of this year.
Since arriving in Minnesota, O’Neill has quickly developed into one of the best starting right tackles in the NFL. He’s proven that he’s a perfect fit for Minnesota’s offensive scheme, and keeping him in the fold for the foreseeable future was absolutely the right move to make here. O’Neill is the one with the most to celebrate, but Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook aren’t far behind him. They can’t do what they do without players like O’Neill leading the way.
O’Neill put the team first throughout the process, something that Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer surely loved to see. He didn’t hold out or refuse to participate. He showed up, worked his butt off, and let the business take care of itself. I’m not saying there’s a right or wrong way to go about it, but I promise you that Minnesota appreciates the grace he handled the situation with.
Don’t look now, but Vikings fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about how their offensive line is shaping up for 2021 and beyond. O’Neill is here to stay and he’s joined by the likes of rookie first-round pick Christian Darrisaw, 2020 second-round pick Ezra Cleveland, 2019 first-round pick Garrett Bradbury and 2021 third-round pick Wyatt Davis. One or two of these guys may not pan out the way Minnesota hopes they do, but there’s no denying that the future of their offensive line is looking incredibly bright.
O’Neill will probably continue to be underappreciated by other fan bases, but everyone in Minnesota knows exactly what they have in him, and that’s a stud tackle that consistently does his job at a high level.
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