5:55pm: There are indeed $1MM worth of incentives in Walsh’s new deal, reports ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling (via Twitter).
The reporter also caught up with Walsh, who was thrilled about signing the extension.
“It’s nice to have security and get an extension,” he said. “But it makes you even more hungry to prove everyone right, to continue to perform like you’ve been performing. That’s the way I approach things: I’m never satisfied with anything. I want to continue to get better and do better.
12:30pm: The Vikings have signed kicker Blair Walsh to a contract extension, the team announced in a press release. The deal is for four years and worth up to $14MM, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link), meaning that Walsh, who was entering his contract year, is now locked up through 2018. The pact contains $5.25MM in guaranteed money, per La Canfora.
“Blair has been a vital part of our special teams success since we drafted him and we felt it was very important to secure his future with our organization,” said Vikings general manager Rick Spielman in a statement. “His consistency on kickoffs and on long range field goals can help change the game for our team and we’re excited for his future here in Minnesota. This extension stays true to our philosophy of drafting young talent, developing them in our system and rewarding their success.”
Walsh, 25, has been in Minnesota since being selected in the sixth round of the 2012 draft out of Georgia. After an impressive rookie debut during which he made 92.1% of his field goals and was named to both the Pro Bowl and the All Pro team, Walsh’s production has declined in recent years, as he’s converted only 86.7% and 74.3% of his field goal attempts during the past two seasons, respectively.
Given that Walsh’s deal is worth “up to” $14MM, we can assume there are some incentives tied to the deal, and while we can’t calculate the average annual value just yet, a source does tell La Canfora that Walsh is now among the five highest paid kickers in the league. Dan Bailey is currently No. 5 among kickers in annual salary, earning about $3.214MM per annum, so Walsh will presumably pull in more than that figure.
PFR’s Luke Adams examined Walsh’s case for an extension a little over two months ago, specifically addressing whether Walsh’s problems from inside 40 yards would affect the Vikings’ interest in an long-term deal, given that extra points will be attempted from 32 or 33 yards beginning in 2015.