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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Kendricks: Vikings’ strong locker room played role in signing extension

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings’ locker room both literally and figuratively influenced linebacker Eric Kendricks to sign a long-term deal to stay with the team that drafted him in 2015.

“We have a special locker room and a fun defense for me to play on, especially,” Kendricks said. “And also this facility is ridiculous. I’m standing in it right now and there’s no better.”

The Vikings announced Monday they agreed to a five-year contract with the former UCLA linebacker, worth $50 million and $25 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Kendricks played a key role on the Vikings’ No. 1 defense last season, playing 97 percent of total snaps. For the team’s leader in tackles, it was attractive to stay with a group that has grown together and gelled during the Mike Zimmer era.

“I think it’s the best locker room I’ve ever been in,” Kendricks said. “We’ve got the best defense I’ve ever been on.”

“I just don’t come in to work, I’m never upset coming in to work,” Kendricks added. “I’m just always happy. Smile on my face, because I feel like I have a bunch of guys who are just like-minded, want to get the same things done as me. Same values, it’s just fun.”

In Kendricks’ first year, Zimmer joked that his young linebacker played like he had too much coffee. Over the past three seasons, Kendricks said that the players around him have helped his growth into a cerebral player.

“I feel like I’ve just learned so much from everyone around me,” he said. “I think the thing I most improved on was my recognition of the pre-snap recognition, just getting most of my work done pre-snap and then just reacting and using my natural ability to get to the ball. From the guys that are in front of me taking off double teams, to the people that are communicating with me in the backfield – we got a great squad. I learn from everybody.”

Kendricks’ extension is the first piece of a puzzle that the front office has to solve to keep the Vikings’ strong roster together. Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter and Anthony Barr are free agents following this season.

“Eric is just another young core player for us, a great player on the field…represents us in a first-class way out in the community, he’s a leader in the defense, he’s a leader in our locker room,” GM Rick Spielman said. “His work ethic, his prep that he puts in week in and week out is why he’s such a dynamic player for us on Sundays.”

The post Kendricks: Vikings’ strong locker room played role in signing extension appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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