The Vikings offensive line has been a horrific mess this season, however if there has been any bright spot it’s been center John Sullivan. Sullivan has improved at handling the bull rush from nose tackles and been an excellent second level blocker for the run game. There has been a vibe that the Vikings were looking to extend Sullivan past this season before he hit free agency and the team has done just that giving the former Notre Dame Fighting Irishman a 5-year deal for $25 million that includes at least $10 million guaranteed. This will now make Sullivan one of the league’s highest paid centers. Quite the leap of faith considering he struggled the past 2 seasons after replacing Matt Birk, yet has graded out as the second best center in the game this season per our friends at Pro Football Focus and hopefully the trend will continue as being one of the league’s best.
The question now becomes what the Vikings will do this offseason to improve the weaker parts of the offensive line. We’ve learned in that past week that USC’s left tackle Matt Kalil will indeed be going pro and is considered a lock to be picked in the top five. Steve Hutchinson is also due close to $7 million next season, a hefty price for an aging guard that ain’t quite what he used to be. Current left tackle Charlie Johnson is under contract also for 2012 and is best served at guard. Guard Anthony Herrera has played poorly this year and may not be back. Then there’s Phil Loadholt who hasn’t lived up to his hype after having a promising rookie season, but will probably be back at right tackle in 2012.
But at least we know who will be snapping the ball to Christian Ponder.
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig