August 05, 2017

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) The Minnesota Vikings have locked up another core piece of their defense, signing Linval Joseph to a four-year contract extension that puts him under team control through the 2022 season.

Joseph's agency, SportsTrust Advisors, announced the agreement Saturday. Then the Vikings confirmed it a few hours later after Joseph met general manager Rick Spielman to sign the deal . There was no rush, with two years remaining on the current contract, but Joseph was happy to have the added security even if his market price could have risen with another strong season.

''This game don't last forever, at the end of the day,'' Joseph said after the team's night practice at Minnesota State University. ''It was a great opportunity.''

NFL Media reported that Joseph's new contract is worth as much as $50 million, with $31.5 million in guaranteed money. He joined the Vikings as a free agent in 2014 after leaving the New York Giants, who drafted him in the second round in 2010 out of East Carolina. Joseph is a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands whose family moved to Florida when he was 10.

This is the third extension the Vikings have done since training camp began, having previously signed defensive end Everson Griffen and cornerback Xavier Rhodes to new long-term deals, all through the 2022 season. Free safety Harrison Smith is signed through 2021.

''I feel like we have something special. We have a lot of guys who want to work. Once you have guys like that, that's how you build a great team,'' Joseph said, adding: ''I feel like I'm a part of something, and that's a great feeling. Right now I just want to grow. I want our team to grow. And I want to win that big ring.''

This is Joseph's fourth year with the Vikings, all under coach Mike Zimmer, who recently called Joseph the best nose tackle he's ''ever been around'' in 24 seasons in the NFL.

''He's a great person, wants to be really good. Probably works as hard as anyone on the football team in the offseason,'' Zimmer said.

The 6-foot-4, 329-pound Joseph was picked as an injury replacement last year for the Pro Bowl. He was credited by Vikings coaches with 100 tackles, the team's first defensive tackle to reach that milestone since Henry Thomas in 1991. He matched his career high with four sacks and tallied 36 quarterback hurries, his most since joining Minnesota.

Joseph's greatest value, though, is his unique ability to occupy multiple blockers, who would often be overpowered in a one-on-one situation, to allow a linebacker, a defensive end or a safety to swoop in for the big play.

''Hopefully all of our guys on defense feel the same way. It's not about individual statistics. It's about us collectively doing our job,'' Zimmer said.

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