Vikings sign Walsh to 4-year extension

The Vikings extended the contract of kicker Blair Walsh, who was entering the final year of his rookie contract.

The Minnesota Vikings signed kicker Blair Walsh to a four-year contract extension, the team announced during the first day of training camp practices.

Walsh was entering the final year of his rookie contract, but the extension is for four years with a maximum of $14 million and $5.25 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports.

“I’m extremely excited to be a part of the Minnesota Vikings moving forward. I’d like to thank Rick Spielman, the Wilf family, Coach Zimmer, Coach Priefer and Rob Brzezinski for giving me this opportunity,” Walsh said in a statement. “I’m proud to be able to stay with the team that drafted me coming out of college and I look forward to what is in store for the future of this organization.”

Walsh had a strong rookie debut in 2012, setting an NFL record with 10 consecutive field goals of 50 yards or more and three of 50 or more in one game. To date, he has 17 field goals of 50 yards or more in his three seasons. That’s tied for the league lead in that three-year span and his new contract rewards him as a top-five kicker in the league.

In the first two years of his career, he connected on three game-winning field goals, including one in 2012 that sent the Vikings to the playoffs. He earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors as a rookie.

“Blair has been a vital part of our special teams success since we drafted him and we felt it was very important to secure his future with our organization,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said. “His consistency on kickoffs and on long-range field goals can help change the game for our team and we’re excited for his future here in Minnesota. This extension stays true to our philosophy of drafting young talent, developing them in our system and rewarding their success.”

Walsh struggled a bit in his first year with TCF Bank Stadium as his home field. He hit on only 74.3 percent of his field goals after connecting on 86.7 percent the season before and 92.1 percent as a rookie.

“If you analyze it and look back at the last four or five misses, you’re not going to find many that are under 50 (yards),” Walsh said last December. “It’s all part of it. They expect you to make the ones over 50. I expect to make the ones over 50. It’s sort of a bar or a precedent that you’ve already set for yourself coming into the league and making how many I did. It’s something that I think I’m very good at and I’m going to continue to work on it and be more fundamentally sound outdoors at 50-plus.”

Hit 5 of 9 kicks from 50 yards or more in 2014 after going 12 of 15 his first two years in the league.

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