MANKATO – Linval Joseph is the latest Vikings defender to get paid.
Joseph, a 28-year-old nose tackle, signed a four-year contract extension that can keep him in Minnesota through the 2022 season, he told the Star Tribune on Saturday night. He can receive up to $50 million in new money with $31.5 million guaranteed, according to NFL Media.
It's a continued trend for Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, who has now guaranteed millions to two defensive linemen despite each having two years left on his old deal. Joseph was set to become a free agent after 2018, like defensive end Everson Griffen was before he inked a four-year, $58 million extension at the start of training camp.
In the past couple of weeks, the Vikings locked up three core defenders in Griffen, Joseph and cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who is now under contract for six years and $78 million. Defense has been the Vikings' identity since Mike Zimmer arrived in 2014, signing Joseph away from the Giants two months into his tenure as head coach.
Now the core of last year's third-ranked defense is sticking together. Safety Harrison Smith signed a five-year deal last year that keeps him under contract through 2021.
At the center is Joseph, a bludgeoning tackle who clogs the middle of offenses. He's a critical component to the Vikings run defense and growing increasingly effective as a pass rusher.
"It was a good opportunity. I felt like I outplayed my contract," Joseph said. "For the Vikings to come to me and want to try to get something done, I was happy about that. I really work every day to get better. To be praised for my hard work, it feels good."
Joseph is coming off a standout season in which he made his first Pro Bowl and set career-best marks in tackles (77), sacks (four) and forced fumbles (three).
Gedeon gets looks
A rookie has emerged in the Vikings linebacker corps in Ben Gedeon, the fourth-round pick out of Michigan. Gedeon (6-2, 244 pounds) has mixed in with the starting defense at weakside linebacker after beginning as a middle linebacker this spring.
"He does a good job in the run game of getting on and off blocks," defensive coordinator George Edwards said. "He's got a good understanding of the passing game."
Gedeon is making the transition after playing middle linebacker for the Wolverines.
"A lot of it is similar in this scheme, so I'm just getting used to the calls," Gedeon said.
Zimmer commended Anthony Barr's offseason after the linebacker recently admitted he didn't always try his hardest last season.
"I look for him to have a big year," Zimmer said. "I'm constantly trying to figure out ways to use him more and more and more. His effort has been outstanding. He's very conscientious about making sure he runs to the football all the time."
Two left tackles have now been injured for the Vikings during camp after backup Rashod Hill, filling in for injured Riley Reiff, was carted off the practice field Saturday night.
Hill appeared to injure his left leg. He stood up on his own before being carted away. Jeremiah Sirles replaced him.
Fireworks over Blakeslee Stadium on Saturday night denoted the Vikings' final practice under the lights in Mankato after 52 years. Looking ahead to next summer at the Vikings' new headquarters in Eagan, Zimmer said he doesn't expect too much of a change other than upgraded facilities and a more centralized operation.
"The biggest adjustment for the players will be going to the hotel," Zimmer said. "I'm sure I won't have a golf cart