Letting go of their longtime defensive end would free up a bunch of cap space for the Minnesota Vikings in 2019, who are currently in dire need of some more spending money.
After the Minnesota Vikings decided to sign Everson Griffen to a five-year, $42.5 million extension in 2014, some questioned if the team had made the right choice. Especially since Griffen had just one start under his belt during his four previous seasons with the Vikings.
But in 2014, the defensive end became a starter for Minnesota and since then, all he has done is evolve into one of the absolute best pass rushers in the NFL. In Griffen’s last five seasons with the Vikings, he has racked up a total of 49 sacks, earned three trips to the Pro Bowl, and been selected as a Second-Team All-Pro by the Associated Press.
However, 2018 was a bit of a different story for the veteran pass rusher.
Prior to Minnesota’s Week 3 matchup against the Buffalo Bills, Griffen checked into a hospital for a mental health evaluation following an incident at a hotel in downtown Minneapolis. The defensive end missed a total of five games to work on his mental health before returning to the Vikings in Week 8.
Even when he stepped back onto the field, Griffen still didn’t seem like his same terrorizing self that Minnesota’s fans have become so accustomed to during his career. In 11 games this past season, the Vikings’ veteran defensive end finished with just 5.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits.
Griffen hasn’t ended a year with less than six sacks since 2013 when he was just a situational pass rusher for Minnesota.
Coming off a forgettable season, the Vikings now have to decide if they want to keep him on their roster for 2019. Especially since Minnesota is currently projected to only have around $6.6 million in cap space this year.
Griffen and the Vikings agreed to a four-year, $58 million extension in 2017 and he is scheduled to earn almost $11 million next season. However, Minnesota can decide to release him this year and increase their 2019 cap space by more than $10 million.
Of all the players on the Vikings’ current roster, letting go of Griffen would free up more cap space in 2019 than anyone else. For a team like Minnesota that is currently in desperate need of more spending money this offseason, cutting their veteran defensive end may be a decision they opt to make.
Most likely, the Vikings will first attempt to restructure Griffen’s current deal to lower his cap hit in 2019. But if Minnesota is unable to do this, then they might actually have to bite the bullet and release him.
For those who are freaking out about the possibility of Griffen not being on the Vikings’ roster next season, there doesn’t seem to be too much to worry about at this moment. But just be aware that there is still a legit chance that the defensive end could have already played his last snap in a Minnesota uniform.