Ferdinand's contract was set to expire this summer after helping United win their 20th league title. Instead, he will remain with the club at least through the summer of 2014. Based on his continued strong form, he should still play a vital role in the center of defense.
The 34-year-old star said he was happy to have a new deal in place (via ESPN):
Who wouldn't want to play in this fantastic team in front of 75,000 fans each week, it has been an incredible journey and I am glad it will continue. I can now fully concentrate on my club career, which has worked well for me over the past few years.
This is a great team to be part of and we are now moving into a new era with the club which is very exciting.
In the same report, incoming manager David Moyes stressed the importance of keeping him at United:
It is clear for everyone to see that Rio has had one of his best seasons with the club and I think even from the outside you can see what a big character Rio is around the dressing room so I am delighted he has signed a new contract and I am looking forward to working with him.
Ferdinand appeared in 28 matches during the club's latest championship campaign. He showed no signs of slowing down in competing for his sixth career Premier League title, which made United's decision to bring him back easier.
He arrived to Old Trafford in the summer of 2002 from Leeds United. He almost immediately established himself as a key piece of the perennial title-contending squad and has remained a stalwart member of the squad ever since.
The veteran stability he provides can't be understated. It will be extremely difficult to replace whenever Ferdinand's United career does come to an end, so Moyes is probably happy he doesn't have to worry about filling the void in his first summer with the club.
At the same time, United are wise to handle the situation on a yearly basis. As long as Ferdinand maintains his elite form and expresses his desire to continue playing, it's hard to imagine him playing anywhere else. But a short-term commitment is still the way to go with an aging star.
Ferdinand and United are a perfect match. It's been illustrated time and again over the past 11 seasons, and it shouldn't be expected to change when the Red Devils return to the pitch to defend their title.
With the potential center-back void eliminated, United can now focus on upgrading elsewhere in the coming months.