EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Brian Robison has made himself a home in Minnesota and a career with the Minnesota Vikings.
When the opportunity arose to stay in Minnesota, Robison had his representation work out a deal to stay with the Vikings so he could spend his entire career with one team. The ability to do a bit of fishing in the state’s 10,000 lakes didn’t hurt either.
“Obviously it’s a great place to go bass fishing so I’m happy about that,” Robison said, an avid fisherman from Texas.
Robison, 30, agreed to terms a four-year extension with Minnesota on Wednesday, securing at least one piece along a defensive line with pending free agents in Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Everson Griffen and Fred Evans. Robison was set to become a free agent, too, but he agreed to a deal worth $28 million, $12 million in guarantees and a $5 million signing bonus, according to the Associated Press.
“I think in any player’s mind, any time you have an opportunity to hit free agency it creates a little bit of excitement,” Robison said. “Me and my family sat down and talked about things and we realized there are not a whole lot of guys in the league that get to start their career in one place and end their career in one place. This is an opportunity for me to do that. It’s obviously an opportunity for me and my family be able to do things that we want to be able to do in the future and obviously I’m very excited about it.”
Robison has developed from a situational pass-rusher as a fourth-round draft pick out of the University of Texas into a three-year starter at defensive end for the Vikings. Starting on the opposite side of Jared Allen, Robison set a career-high with 8.5 sacks last season to go with 52 tackles in 15 games. He’s had 17.5 sacks over the past three seasons since he became a starter.
Through four games this season, Robison’s sack numbers are down with only one sack. He has 11 tackles, 13 quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.
“With Brian, it’s consistent play throughout his time here,” head coach Leslie Frazier said. “He’s continually gotten better. We can utilize him as an inside rusher. We can utilize him as an outside rusher. He has improved as a run defender as well, and his work ethic and his character as well. All those things are important to us. He’s a solid performer for our team, so we’re fortunate that he wanted to come back to our team rather than go on the open market at the end of the season.
“His consistent play, having an idea of what you’re going to get every single week, that’s a big deal. And he stays on the field. He’s not often injured. That’s important as well.”
When the Vikings allowed Ray Edwards to leave in free agency in 2011, they handed the starting job, and a new contract to the lesser-known Robison. Robison signed a three-year, $13.5 million contract at the time and was given his first chance as a full-time starter in 2011. He finished with a career-high 54 tackles and eight sacks.
“Absolutely, that deal to me was an opportunity to be a starter, an opportunity to prove myself in this league and I was able to do that,” Robison said. “I’m not going to sit here and toot my horn or anything like that, but I’m just very thankful to the Vikings to give me that opportunity and then obviously seeing that I was able to have another opportunity to be here.”
Robison has been a steady pass rusher and anchor on the left end in run defense. His extension leaves Minnesota with two of its starters signed into next season, with defensive tackle Letroy Guion signed through 2014. Robison’s new deal will keep him with the Vikings through the 2017 season.
Minnesota drafted Sharrif Floyd in the first round of April’s draft as the likely successor to five-time All-Pro Kevin Williams at defensive tackle. Williams’ contract was renegotiated in the offseason and guaranteed his 2013 salary, but eliminated the 2014 portion of his contract. Allen is also in the final year of a six-year, $73.2 million deal, in which he is receiving $14.28 million this season.
“A number of our guys are going to be out of contract at the end of the season so to have Brian under contract, that’s very important going forward and we’re pleased that has happened and hopefully we’ll get some of the other guys taken care of as well,” Frazier said. “It’s good to get Brian done. That helps, hopefully, getting some of the other guys done as well.”
Robison said he is happy another part of the defensive line is settled going forward. He said he stayed out of the negotiations until the end, and the final push came during the team’s bye week. His focus was on the field and he didn’t want to be bothered with negotiations until the agreement became serious.
“It’s very special to be able to come here at a place and knowing that I believed in myself and just was able to give it everything I had every day; practice the right way, play the right way,” Robison said. “To see that you get rewarded for it obviously makes you feel really good.”