Jarius Wright inked a four-year contract extension with the Vikings on Thursday. The deal is worth $14.8 million with $7 million guaranteed, an NFL source confirmed. The wide receiver was entering the final year of his rookie contract, and the team struck a deal with Wright just before the season opener against the 49ers on Monday.
“For me the timing was kind of important but at the same time, I’m going to play football regardless if I got a contract or not,” Wright said. “I wasn’t going to create any distractions, and I was going to be the same leader on and off the field. …Going into the season [now], I do have a lot of relief. I can just go out there and play football and not have to worry about the contract.
“It’s definitely a dream come true not just to get a chance to play in the NFL but also a dream to get a second contract. Growing up I was always told, ‘You’re too small. You couldn’t do it.’ For me to prove everybody wrong and for me to help everybody that was with me on my side, I just appreciate everybody who stood behind me.”
The team’s fourth round pick in 2012 out of Arkansas set career-highs in receptions, 42, and receiving yards, 588, last season playing in all 16 games. Wright has flashed his playmaking ability in spurts over the last three years, and he’s expected to have an increased role this season as the Vikings’ slot receiver.
“Jarius has been a key member of our offense since we drafted him in 2012 and we felt it was necessary to secure his future with our organization,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said in a statement. “His commitment to this team, hard work and leadership in the WR room are several of the intangibles that he brings to our club on a daily basis and we’re excited for his future with the Vikings. With the help of WR coach George Stewart, Jarius has greatly improved since coming to Minnesota. This extension stays true to our philosophy of drafting young talent, developing them in our system and rewarding their success.”
Wright, a Warren, Ark. native, is the second Vikings’ player from the 2012 draft class to receive a contract extension. The Vikings extended kicker Blair Walsh on a four-year deal worth $14 million during training camp. The Vikings still have eight of their 10 picks from the 2012 draft class on the team.
“He’s a great kid,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. “He works real hard. He’s smart. He’s a great program guy, the guys we like to have here. And he makes plays. He’s fast. I think he’s got a chance to have a very good future.”
Vikings players approached Wright during media availability after hearing official confirmation of his new deal. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, defensive end Everson Griffen and wide receiver Mike Wallace were among the teammates that swarmed Wright to congratulate him on his extension.
“It’s not me, but damn near be happy like it is me,” Wallace said. “I’m always happy for anyone that gets paid because I know how the game goes. Anytime I see someone get paid, I’m always like, ‘That’s what’s up.’ When it’s guys that you’re friends with that work hard, you’re around them every day and you know what type of person they are and know that they deserve it, it makes it even better.”