It's a done deal.
Safety Andrew Sendejo can't wait to be back on the field in purple and gold, and his goals for 2016 are lofty. The Vikings announced Monday that they re-signed Sendejo.
"I'm just glad to be back here," Sendejo said in an interview with "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen on the 9 to Noon show. "I just thank [Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf] and everyone that was involved – upper-level management, [Vikings GM Rick] Spielman, coaching staff, my agent – just getting together and getting on the same page. That was kind of the goal. I wanted to be back here. I think we're on the up-and-up; we're doing good things, and I wanted to continue to help be a part of it."
Sendejo said it's his priority to focus more on the goal of the team than on the specifics of his contract.
"The the only thing that matters to me is just this upcoming season and for us to try to win a Super Bowl," Sendejo said. "That's kind of how I treat it every year. I go year-to-year and just try to improve each year, play the best you can."
The 2016 season will be Sendejo's sixth in the NFL and fifth with the Vikings. The safety has made 26 career starts – all with Minnesota – and played in 63 career games. In 2015, Sendejo started all 13 games he played in and recorded 100 tackles, 0.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, one interception and six passes defensed. Sendejo has recorded at least 100 tackles for the Vikings in two of the last three seasons and has 43 career special teams tackles.
Sendejo said playing special teams helped him develop as a player and prepare for starting opposite safety Harrison Smith in 2015.
"Even last year, being a starter, I still had to study all the special teams stuff in case they needed me in some different phases on special teams," Sendejo said. "During the week it's a grind to get everything mentally prepped and ready to go, and that way when you go out on Sunday, you don't really have to think much. You just go play."
Sendejo prides himself on preparation. He identifies as a student of the game and recognizes there's a lot more to football than the physical aspects.
"I try to do everything right on and off the field," Sendejo said. "Whether it's being in meetings and paying attention, taking notes, or in practice – making checks and calls – hustling during practice. Then obviously during the game, playing my tail off. I think it's one of those things where I bring a little bit more to the game than necessarily some flashy numbers."
In reflecting back on the 2015 season and the success Minnesota had, Sendejo gave a lot of credit to the front seven and their performance. He said the Vikings defense thrives on working well together, and the unit especially stood out down the stretch. Over the last two weeks of the regular season and in the Wild Card matchup, Sendejo recorded 20 tackles (15 solo) and an interception.
"Our whole team started getting a hot hand there at the end, and we were playing good ball," Sendejo said. "That's really what you look for in a team, right there at the end. It's been a long season, guys are banged up, you can be a little mentally drained as well, and you just have to kind of stay on the grind and get rolling."
Sendejo said that fortitude will be key to his part in the Vikings defense moving forward, and he's eager to get started.
"I'm just looking forward to continuing to improve and get better and just help out," Sendejo said. "[Whatever] my role is with this team – what they have me schemed up to do at safety – and just continue to be a consistent player like I have been since I've been here."
For Sendejo, re-signing with the Vikings only increases his motivation to work hard each and every day.
"You have to show up every day, you have to play well, you have to play at a high level. If I continue to do that, I'll continue to be on the field," Sendejo said. "And if I don't do that, I won't be on the field. That's how it goes in the NFL, and that's how it's been in the last six years since I've been in the NFL. I'm just going to continue to do what I've done – it's been working for me. And then just look forward to getting back at it, having a good [2016 season] and winning the Super Bowl."
Vikings re-sign other key role players
In addition to extending Sendejo's contract, the Vikings also announced they have re-signed wide receiver Adam Thielen and offensive tackle Carter Bykowski, both of whom were exclusive rights free agents.
Thielen joined the Vikings as an unsigned free agent in 2013. The Minnesota native spent his rookie season on the practice squad before playing a vital role on special teams in both 2014 and 2015. The Vikings utilized Thielen on more offensive snaps in 2015, and he finished the regular season with 12 receptions for 144 yards.
The Vikings signed Bykowski off the 49ers practice squad during Week 15 in 2014. Also a Minnesota native, Bykowski was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2015 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn pectoral.
The Vikings also placed a tender on restricted free agent fullback Zach Line, meaning they will have the first right of refusal.
In his third season with the Vikings, Line played all 16 games and started five of them. In addition to scoring two touchdowns, Line helped running back Adrian Peterson lead the league in rushing yards (1,485).