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Linval Joseph's Hard Work Pays Off with Vikings Contract Extension

MANKATO, Minn. — Another day, another round of dollars committed to a significant Vikings defender.

Minnesota announced on Saturday that Linval Joseph signed a multi-year contract extension (the team does not release financial details of contracts).

Joseph is the third Vikings defender who is following a Pro Bowl season to sign an extension with the team in an 11-day span.

The first player to do so was defensive end Everson Griffen on July 26, when he and other veterans reported to Verizon Vikings Training Camp. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes inked his contract extension on July 30 to start this week, and Joseph's signing helps punctuate a week that will culminate with a night practice at Blakeslee Stadium.

Joseph made a quick swipe of a pen around 4:30 p.m. (CT), leaving him enough time to prepare for the under-the-lights session.

"It feels really good. I was really calm about the situation," Joseph said. "I'm just glad to be a Viking for life. I want to thank the organization, the Ownership, thank God and thank my agent Bill Johnson. I'm ready to go. I want to help this team win the Super Bowl."

Joseph, who will turn 29 in October, was one of the first free agents the Vikings signed after Head Coach Mike Zimmer was hired in 2014.

He brought four years of experience with the New York Giants (46 starts in 53 regular-season games) and a ring from Super Bowl XLVI to the table.

Joseph has eaten up space in the middle of the field since and been critical to the Vikings defense. He has started all 44 regular-season games and the one postseason game he's played with Minnesota. Joseph recently discussed the "**one ultimate goal**" that the Vikings have and his belief in the team to play for a Super Bowl.

"It would mean everything to me," Joseph said. "When I signed my first contract, it was to come and help these guys and show these guys the way. To win a Super Bowl with the same guys I've been with for four years would be awesome."

The former high school weightlifting champ is coming off his strongest season yet. Joseph recorded 100 tackles (coaches' tally), including 48 solo, 4.0 sacks and 7.0 tackles for loss. He also recorded career bests of 36 quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles on his way to his first selection to the Pro Bowl.

Zimmer was asked about the way that Joseph was quietly handling the business aspect of the game and on the field while preparing for his fourth season in Purple. Zimmer pointed to the fact that Joseph values team accomplishments over individual stats

"He's a great person, wants to be really good," Zimmer said. "Probably works as hard as anyone on the football team in the offseason. I think he cares an awful lot about the guys around him. [Defensive line coach] Andre Patterson does a good job preaching all that. But hopefully all of our guys on defense feel the same way. It's not about individual statistics, it's about us collectively doing our job. Linval is the best one [nose tackle] I've ever been around."

Zimmer said Joseph's combination of strength, size and athleticism make him unlike any other nose tackle he's ever coached.

"Most of the guys are thicker and shorter than he is, but he's the best athlete that I can think of, that I've been involved with at that spot," Zimmer said. "When I first went to Dallas, Russell Maryland, who was the first pick of the draft was there, but he was more of a quick, fast guy as opposed to a big powerful guy." 

Defensive coordinator George Edwards said Friday that Joseph is an "exceptional player."

"He's not only got the bulk to play the position, the block awareness, balance, contact balance, and all those things but just the attitude that he brings to it every day," Edwards said.

"You look at college football right now, you don't see a lot of nose guards because there's a lot of spread," Edwards added. "Having a guy like that in the middle of your defense that brings that type of work ethic and pride to what he's trying to get accomplished is definitely a plus. I think Coach (Zimmer) has said it and I'll say it, he's one of the best I've ever been around. I mean he's really a dominant force in there, does it exactly how you try to get it taught every day, and the consistency he brings to practice and takes the game, that's a big plus for us."

After seeing other core teammates' sign recent contract extensions and knowing the kudos he has received from Vikings coaches, Joseph said he trusted that his opportunity would follow.

"I feel like hard work pays off," Joseph said. "It was going around the league, everybody saying I'm the best, this and that. I was like, 'Well, it's time for everything to come out the right way,' and it turned out the right way. I'm excited to be here. I'm excited to have all the respect I have now, and I just want us to win games."

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