Bradbury's career year in 2022 has earned him a second contract with the team that drafted him in the first round four years ago. He'll remain the center for Kirk Cousins in 2023 — and perhaps snap the ball to someone new in Minnesota in 2024.
The Vikings' previous regime selected Bradbury 18th overall out of NC State in 2019, hoping to fix their center position for years to come with a prospect viewed as a high-floor, high-ceiling option due to his elite athleticism. That athleticism immediately translated in the running game, but Bradbury struggled mightily in pass protection during his first three seasons with the Vikings. He ranked dead last in PFF pass blocking grade among qualified centers in two of those seasons and second-to-last in the other.
But new Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell stuck with Bradbury last season, even after the front office understandably declined to pick up his fifth-year option. He was rewarded for that decision. Bradbury's pass blocking grade shot up to a strong 68.1 mark — which ranked in the top half of the league's centers — and his run blocking grade finished in the top ten. Playing in a new offense, he was a key piece of making everything happen up front. Unfortunately, Bradbury missed the final five games of the regular season with a back injury and didn't look completely healthy when he returned and faced dominant Giants DT Dexter Lawrence in the wild card round of the playoffs.
By re-signing Bradbury, the Vikings are opting for continuity in the middle of their offensive line and betting that his best football might still be in front of him. Bradbury turns 28 this summer.
The Vikings' offensive line could remain unchanged this season if the coaching staff feels confident in right guard Ed Ingram heading into his second year.
Bradbury is undoubtedly excited to be returning to Minnesota. He has a tight bond with the Vikings' other offensive linemen.
"I’d love to (be back)," Bradbury said on January 16th, after the season ended. "I love it here. I love this locker room, the coaches, the culture that’s been put in place. ... I’ve expressed that I want to be here. I love the offensive line room. Those guys are awesome. Love playing with him, love hanging out with them, love joking with them. It’s awesome. So, we’ll see how the months play out."
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