Photo credit: Minneapolis Star Tribune

On Wednesday the Minnesota Vikings signed defensive end Everson Griffen to a contract extension.

On Sunday they did the same with another key player on the defense.

The Rhodes are closed usually for wide receivers when they go up against Xavier, but on Sunday the Rhodes were open for Xavier to walk in and sign the big contract.

After having a nice rookie season in 2013, Rhodes has developed into one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

There could very well be more extensions done very soon.

Last season the Vikings also re-signed safety Harrison Smith to an extension.

After ranking 31st overall in total defense in 2013 and allowing the most points in the league, the Vikings since then have been ranked 14th, 13th and 3rd in total defense and also 11th, 5th and 6th in points allowed. Rhodes, presence has certainly played a huge role in the unit’s turnaround. Mike Zimmer being hired after the 2013 season has helped too, along with the play of Joseph, Smith, Kendricks and Barr.

Rhodes is also a good tackler. Sometimes he gets too aggressive that he gets called for illegal contact or pass interference, but he has certainly improved in that area.

The Vikings were 2-4 in games decided by six points or less. The defense will continue to keep them in games, but the offense needs to now step up. They will improve this season (how much is the question), which will certainly help the defense. Defenses can only do so much and no matter how good they are, fatigue catches up to them when they are left on the field for too long.

The defense though will again be the team’s biggest strength and will be the main reason why they will have a good shot at competing for the division title.

Rhodes was the team’s 25th overall selection in 2013 out of Florida State and made it to the Pro Bowl last season for the first time. He had five interceptions after having only two in his first three seasons combined. He earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week when he recorded two interceptions, including returned one for a 100 yard touchdown in week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals.

General manager Rick Spielman and his staff continue to do a great job keeping their core players. Since Rob Brzezinski has become the team’s Vice President of Football Operations in 2002, the Vikings have been in great shape with the salary cap.

You can follow Ali Siddiqui on Twitter @asiddiqui15 and @SPOT_Vikings for Vikings news and updates.

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