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Rick Spielman wants Phil Loadholt to stick around

Minnesota Vikings v Houston Texans

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 23: Phil Loadholt #71 and Michael Jenkins #84 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrate late in the fourth quarter during the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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There’s been a lot of attention paid to the Vikings’ first-round pick from the 2009 draft, but wide receiver Percy Harvin isn’t the only player from that draft that Minnesota has to make a decision about this offseason.

Tackle Phil Loadholt, their second-round pick in 2009, is headed for free agency next month if the Vikings aren’t able to re-sign him. The right tackle started all 16 games in 2012 as part of a unit that helped Adrian Peterson to the second-most rushing yards in history while cutting the team’s sacks from 49 to 32 and it’s a unit that General Manager Rick Spielman wants to see remain together in 2013.

“Continuity is a huge part of it on the offensive line because those guys have to work as one unit and they have to know each other inside and out. They work together on combination blocks, on picking up stunts and twists when they’re in pass pro passing off. I think continuity is a big key to that,” Spielman said, via the team’s website. “We’d love to keep Phil Loadholt, so we’ll try to do everything we can to keep Phil Loadholt but we also have a lot of guys we’d like to keep.”

Loadholt moved into a starting job as a rookie and hasn’t given it up over the four years he’s spent in Minnesota. Given the need to figure out Harvin’s future as well as the need to improve the overall look of the wide receiving corps, getting a contract done with Loadholt quickly would allow the Vikings to devote their time to other things without adding a worry on the offensive line.

The two sides were reportedly talking during the season so there would seem to be a good chance of making that happen before Loadholt can run up his price by talking with other teams.