Heath Farwell describes his family growing up as "blue collar," but he might be able to afford a diamond stud or two for that collar now.
Farwell was tendered a one-year, $1.475 million contract by the Vikings on Wednesday, the middle tender for restricted free agents, and Farwell was still excited by the move a day later.
"I didn't know which way they were going to go with me. There were a few options they could have done with me so I didn't know," Farwell said. "My agent told me there was a good chance that was going to happen, but you never know in this business what their plan is and what they're going to do with you. Until you hear it from their mouth, it's hard to kind of speculate."
Farwell heard it directly from the mouth of head coach Brad Childress, who called the backup linebacker and special-teams ace personally to tell him of the team's plan.
Farwell's agent, Bruce Tollner, had been negotiating for a multi-year deal, but those talks stalled earlier this month and the two sides agreed to wait for a while and revisit the situation closer to the start of free agency, which commenced 12:01 a.m. Eastern on Friday morning.
"I don't know if I was worried or just anxious or more just wanting to figure out what they were going to do. It was a long-awaited process," Farwell said. "You just get anxious and every day I'm just going, ‘OK, what are they going to do today?' I thought maybe they would wait until the last day or the last minute. They called me (Wednesday) morning, which was awesome. I was surprised."
It was also a nice post-wedding gift. Farwell was married on Feb. 16 and took a honeymoon until Feb. 25 in the Cayman Islands.
"That was good to just get away from it all and try not to think about it," Farwell said. "I basically told (Tollner), ‘Hey, don't call me unless you've got anything good. Then, of course, midweek I'm already getting anxious wondering what's going on back home. I wonder what they're saying."
Two days after returning, he was getting the news from Childress over the phone. It was quite a present for a former undrafted rookie that initially signed with the Vikings for a $10,000 signing bonus.
The two sides had gone back and forth on contract talks for a long-term deal, but couldn't come to an agreement. At that point, Farwell and his agent decided to wait out the process and hope the team didn't come with the lower tender, which would have been about $500,000 less than the middle tender and wouldn't have brought the Vikings any draft-pick compensation if another team made a better offer that the Vikings declined to match.
"It sounded like there was a chance they might not have me back in Minnesota. So there was a worried thing like that, where you just don't know where you're going to be playing next year," he said.
The Vikings knew there was a good chance they could lose Farwell without compensation if they didn't tender him with at least the middle designation. In all likelihood, Farwell wouldn't have been a Viking in that scenario.
All along, Childress has been telling Farwell he wanted him back for his special teams prowess and to become a primary backup for all three linebacker positions. The Vikings allowed Dontarrious Thomas, an unrestricted free agent, to test the market.
"It's nice to know that if there are guys that need a rest, I can go in there," Farwell said. "Since mid-season, (Childress has) been telling me he wants me to sign a long-term deal. He wants me to play my whole career here."
The Vikings and Farwell could sign a long-term deal at any time, but for now Farwell expects to sign this tender and probably look at signing an extension later in the year.
"I'm glad to be back in Minnesota. You kind of get to thinking, I don't even know where I'm going to play next year. I feel so comfortable in Minnesota. There are great fans. There's good people," he said. "I enjoyed my time up there in Minnesota, so when I got the call, knowing they put a high-round tender on me and most likely I'm not going anywhere, it was an awesome feeling. I was so excited to know that I'll be back in Minnesota."
It was also a relief for his parents – his dad is a UPS driver and his mother works at a medal distributor – and his grandfather is a big fan of his.
Farwell said the family was "panicking" when he was in negotiations and not agreeing on offers. "These are big numbers to a blue-collar family, just hard-working, doing-labor-jobs (family). They don't understand the aspect of the money (in the NFL)," he said.
They probably have a better appreciation for the process now.
Farwell Excited About Tender
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