Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) runs onto the field to play the Philadelphia Eagles at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings win 48-30. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
So much for letting the market settle before trying to re-sign Everson Griffen.
The Vikings were clearly worried that Griffen might bolt, so they aggressively dealt with the situation.
How’s this for aggressive? Everson Griffen has reportedly re-signed with Minnesota on a five-year deal worth $42.5 million and $20 million guaranteed.
Um, no. That’s not a typo. Everson Griffen just got $20 million guaranteed. A guy with 17.5 career sacks who has never been an every-down player.
For that kind of money, Everson Griffen will be an every-down player.
Things started shakily for the Vikings’ 2010 fourth round selection. Legal problems dogged him early in his career, and it initially seemed that the USC product would be a wash-out in the NFL.
But something happened, maybe just the natural maturation process, that flipped a switch for Griffen. He got his personal life together, and on the football field, he began flashing the promise Minnesota saw when they took a chance on him in the draft.
Griffen’s commitment to his career has now paid off. Big time.
The first obvious implication of this news is that the Vikings are out of the Michael Johnson bidding. I just can’t see any way the Vikings commit huge money to Johnson on top of the large deal they are giving Griffen.
Does this make sense? Based on past production, you would have to be skeptical. But this isn’t about past production, it’s about future potential.
Griffen was seen as an intriguing free agent option based on that potential. His playmaking ability was never consistently on display his first four years with Minnesota, but you could see the flashes.
Late in 2012, Griffen showed what a disruptive force he could be. Many experts had him pegged as a potential break out player in 2013, but with Jared Allen eating up most of the snaps at right end, the chances just weren’t there for Griffen.
The Vikes tried everything they could to get Griffen on the field, sliding him inside in pass rush situations, sometimes using him as a joker in a pseudo-3-4. No matter where the Vikes used him, he showed his athletic ability, his quickness and his nose for the ball.
Mike Zimmer clearly likes what he sees from Griffen, or the Vikes would not have committed this kind of money to him.
If you want an example of what Zimmer might do with Griffen, look no further than the aforementioned Michael Johnson. Under Zimmer, Johnson became a multi-faceted defensive end, a run-stopper, a pass rusher and a man who could drop into coverage.
Griffen has a similar skill set to Johnson. Under Zimmer, he could develop into that type of big-time impact player.
The Vikes are ready to take the gamble that Zimmer can maximize Griffen. He doesn’t come cheap, but they would have had to spend more on Johnson.
Keeping Griffen instead of pursuing Johnson frees up a little more money to potentially pursue cornerback Alterraun Verner.
This is a fascinating development all around. And right now the happiest guy in Minnesota is Everson Griffen. Dude just got paid.