EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings agreed to terms Tuesday with several of their own players ahead of the 2023 New League Year opening at 3 p.m. (CT) Wednesday.
In addition to returning specialists Andrew DePaola and Greg Joseph to Minnesota, the Vikings announced Tuesday they'd agreed to terms to retain starting center Garrett Bradbury.
View the best photos of Vikings C Garrett Bradbury from the 2022 season.
Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune said that Bradbury is back in purple "following a rebound season." He wrote:
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 [Head Coach Kevin] O'Connell: "This is the most fun year I've had" in Minnesota.
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 [Olisaemeka] 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.
Krammer noted that Bradbury allowed "only one or no pressures in pass protection during six of eight games to open the season."
Vikings Legends entering South Carolina Football Hall of Fame
Two former Vikings will be honored this April when they're enshrined in the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame.
John Gilliam (1972-75) and Brad Edwards (1988-89) spent part of their NFL careers in Minnesota after respectively shining for South Carolina State and the University of South Carolina.
The program wrote the following of Gilliam:
While with the Vikings, [Gilliam] played in two Super Bowls, earning four straight Pro Bowls (1972-1975), and a Second-Team All-Pro (AP) honor in 1973. The Vikings later named him as one of the 50 Greatest Vikings.
During his NFL career, he caught 382 passes for 7,056 yards (18.5 average) and 48 receiving touchdowns. He also had two return touchdowns in his career. After his playing days, he became a distinguished businessman in Atlanta. Fellow SC State standout and SCFHOF inductee (2017) Charlie Brown attributes credit to Gilliam as the one who opened the door for Bulldogs to be drafted in the NFL.
Edwards returned to his alma mater following his NFL playing career, serving as an assistant athletic director at the University of South Carolina from 1999-2006. In 2009, he was named the athletic director at Newberry College, and he currently is the CEO of the NFL Alumni Association.