Ben Goessling has a nice piece up on ESPN.com about Vikings right guard Brandon Fusco and his journey from raw, unpolished small-college prospect to top-of-the-line NFL offensive lineman. There’s some cool stuff about Fusco’s high-motor approach, fierce work ethic and growing rapport with right tackle Phil Loadholt. There’s also a little update on Fusco’s contract situation, which should become more and more of a story as we proceed into the season.
As of now, Fusco is still playing out his rookie contract, which expires at the end of 2014. The deal will pay Fusco a base of $1.43 million for the season plus a $23,000 bonus (not exactly top-drawer offensive guard money). And beyond that? Fusco says he isn’t worried. He told ESPN.com:
That’s why I’ve got an agent. I’m just going to play, and we’ll worry about that later down the road. I’ve still got a lot to prove.
Fusco may still believe he has a lot to prove – and that’s obviously the right mental approach – but he’s also done enough thus far to earn a contract extension, and a lucrative one at that. Going by the free agent contract signed this offseason by guard Zane Beadles, if Fusco were to hit the open market, he could expect to land a deal in the 5-year/$30 million range with $13 million guaranteed. Fusco is arguably top five in the league at his position.
The Vikings reportedly have not yet approached Fusco about an extension, but you have to believe those talks will be firing up soon. The Vikings have shown that they will take care of players they drafted and developed, and Fusco should be no exception. Look for him to get taken care of the way Phil Loadholt was. Keeping those two guys together would be a good move for the present and the future.