Not so fast, Chicago.

The Vikings have signed right tackle Phil Loadholt to a multi-year contract extension, keeping the Bears from getting their offensive line-starved mitts on the big fella and maintaining valuable cohesion for a Vikings offensive line that started the same five players in the same five spots for all 17 games a year ago.

Loadholt, a second-round pick in 2009, has been durable and decent throughout his four seasons with the Vikings. Inconsistency, not effort by any stretch, has been his biggest issue. But at 27, he's still on the upswing, still developing and should get better and more consistent the longer he works with the same unit up front. And the signing also keeps a division rival from inflicting major damage at a starting position.

Had the Vikings lost Loadholt, they might have been forced to use one of their two first-round picks on an offensive tackle. Now, they can focus on receiver and possibly linebacker.

Terms of Loadholt's deal are not yet available.


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