MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings signed right guard Brandon Fusco to a five-year contract extension Saturday, further solidifying an offensive line that has been one of the NFL's most stable the past few years.
Fusco's new deal has a maximum value of $25 million if he plays through 2019, including $6 million in guaranteed money. Not bad for a sixth-round draft pick out of Slippery Rock, the NCAA Division II school with the strange name from western Pennsylvania not far from where Fusco grew up.
The Vikings were unavailable for comment, with their trip to St. Louis for the season opener Sunday, but the team distributed a statement from Fusco thanking ownership and the front office ''for taking the chance on me and believing in my abilities.'' Fusco also praised his teammates and offensive line coach Jeff Davidson for his development.
''I have always wanted to stay in Minnesota. The fans and support here is great. There is no place I'd rather be,'' Fusco said.
The Vikings have kept the same offensive line intact for the third straight season. Fusco is the third of the five members who've signed long-term contracts within the past two years, along with center John Sullivan and right tackle Phil Loadholt. Left tackle Matt Kalil, a first-round draft pick in 2012, is still on his rookie deal. Left guard Charlie Johnson's contract expires after the 2015 season.
Fusco is scheduled to make $1.431 million in 2014, the end of his rookie deal.
''Brandon is a player that has come in and done everything that we have asked. We strive to draft players that are not only talented, but meet our criteria both on and off the field. Brandon is another example of our core group of young players that we are excited about keeping together for years to come,'' general manager Rick Spielman said in a statement released by the Vikings.
Fusco became a starter in his second season, 2012, when Adrian Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, the second-most in NFL history. He's missed only one game since then, due to a knee injury last December.
According to STATS research, the Vikings have the second-most starts (157) in the NFL by their primary offensive linemen over the past two years, behind only Washington (159). San Francisco (156), Cleveland (147) and New England (142) are next.
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