The Vikings reached an agreement with kicker Ryan Longwell to keep him with the team for at least the next two seasons.
According to ESPN reports, the deal is four years for $12 million, including $3.5 million in guarantees. Given the length of the contract and the guarantee amount, it seems clear that the plan is for Longwell to remain the Vikings kicker for at least the next two seasons.
Longwell has played 14 seasons in the NFL, the last five with the Vikings. An undrafted camp body with the Packers in 1997, he wasn't expected to make the roster. That same year, the team used a third-round draft pick on kicker Brett Conway, but he got injured in the preseason and the rest was history. Longwell scored 120 points in his rookie season – the first of six 120-plus point seasons with the Packers. Deemed too old in 2006, the Vikings picked him up and he has been as close to automatic as any kicker in the league.
In the Vikings' magical 2009 run to the NFC Championship Game, Longwell made 26 of 28 field goal attempts, setting a career high for field goal percentage (92.9 percent) on his way to scoring 132 points, another career high. While the Vikings took a big step backward in 2010 and Longwell's scoring dropped to just 81 points (a career low), it wasn't his fault. He set a new personal best, making 94.4 percent (17 of 18) of his field goal attempts. Over the last two seasons, he has made 43 of 46 attempts – the best mark among all NFL kickers.
The Vikings have been exceptional in field goal accuracy because the three players involved – Longwell, holder Chris Kluwe and long-snapper Cullen Loeffler have perfected their timing as a threesome and the results have been record-setting.
While fans may be more concerned about the disposition of free agents Sidney Rice (who agreed to terms with the Seahawks), Ray Edwards and Ben Leber, the importance of Longwell's signing can't be understated. A lot of teams would love to have the kind of consistent success the Vikings have had with Longwell and, with many believing the Vikings will have to win close games to compete for a playoff spot, having Longwell back in the fold takes one of their worries out of play.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Vikings agree to terms with Longwell
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