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Vikings decline fifth-year option on center Garrett Bradbury

There remains a chance the Vikings could re-sign Bradbury to a deal after the season

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) before the snap against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter Jan. 9, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports
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EAGAN, Minnesota — As expected, the Minnesota Vikings on Monday declined the fifth-year contract option of center Garrett Bradbury, putting him in line become a free agent next March.

Monday was the deadline for the Vikings to pick up a 2023 option on Bradbury worth $13.202 million. Bradbury has been up and down in his three seasons since being the No. 18 pick by Minnesota in the 2019 draft and picking up his option would have made him one of the highest-paid players on the team in 2023.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press had reported last week that Bradbury’s option was not expected to be picked up. He will make a base salary in 2022 of $2.25 million.

There remains a chance the Vikings could re-sign Bradbury to a deal after the season. If that doesn’t happen, he would be free to sign with any other team.

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Bradbury was the regular starter in 2019 and 2020 and to start last season. He then was replaced by Mason Cole at center for four games midway through the season, the first two when Bradbury was on the COVID-19 reserve list and the next two when he was benched. In December, Bradbury returned to the lineup, with Cole moving to right guard.

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Cole left as a free agent to sign with Pittsburgh in March, making Bradbury the clear-cut favorite to again be the regular starter. They only other player listed at center on the roster is Austin Schlottmann. They didn’t select a center in last week’s draft, but did agree to terms with Sacred Heart undrafted center Josh Sokol.

A similar draft

Under new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell, the Vikings during the draft made a bunch of trades and focused plenty on defense.

“Well, brand new regime, brand new GM, brand new head coach, but a very similar drafting style. It’s almost like Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer didn’t leave the building,” NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis said with a laugh.

The Vikings fired Spielman as general manager and Zimmer as head coach in January. They were replaced by Adofo-Mensah in late January and by O’Connell in February.

Spielman was known for making plenty of trades during drafts, and the Vikings pulled off six last week with Adofo-Mensah. Zimmer was known for wanting to draft defensive players, especially defensive backs, and the Vikings took defensive backs with their first three picks last week and defensive players with five of their top six selections.

Regardless, Davis said the Vikings did want they needed to do in the draft after a season in which they ranked No. 30 in total defense. Their top two picks were Georgia safety Lewis Cine, who went No. 32 in the first round, and Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., who went No. 42 in the second round.

“They get Cine, and I love that to go with (safety) Harrison Smith,’’ Davis said. “I think that is tremendous. And then they come back with Booth, who most of us thought was a first-round corner. I like a lot of what they did, and let’s face it, who’s division are you in, who are you chasing, you do you have slow down?’’

That, of course, is the Green Bay Packers, who, led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, have won three straight NFC North titles.

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Flag football

The Vikings announced Monday that they have pledged $75,000 and partnered with Minneapolis Public Schools in the school system’s launching a girls flag football program. Featuring several teams from middle schools, the inaugural three-week season will start Saturday with games at Roosevelt High School and South High School.

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