Everson Griffen

Cardinals Interested In Everson Griffen

Everson Griffen has spent two months in free agency, but the longtime Vikings defensive end does have a market. Strong interest has emerged, with the Cardinals being a new team in the mix for Griffen, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

Although a Vikings return cannot be ruled out, with the team not doing much to fill its need opposite Danielle Hunter, Griffen is not believed to be a good bet to return to Minnesota. While the 10-year Viking expressed interest in signing with the Seahawks, they may still be monitoring Jadeveon Clowney. Griffen is staying patient, Fowler indicates, and other teams are looking into the 32-year-old edge player.

The Cardinals did not draft an outside pass rusher this year. They signed Terrell Suggs to play opposite Chandler Jones last year but waived him late in the season. Arizona intended to give time to some of its younger edge defenders but may be eyeing a more proven option at this point. Griffen’s 74.5 career sacks are the fourth-most in Vikings history. He booked his fourth Pro Bowl invite last year after an eight-sack regular season.

Jones continued his dominance last season by registering 19.5 sacks. Suggs recorded 5.5 with the Cardinals. No other Cardinal recorded more than three sacks last year. The team did sign Jordan Phillips — who led the Bills with 9.5 sacks in 2019 — but he will operate as an interior pass rusher. The Cardinals have been busy fortifying their front seven this offseason, in also signing De’Vondre Campbell and then drafting Isaiah Simmons eighth overall, but are in the mix to continue adding to the group.

The Cards currently hold just less than $9MM in cap space — much of which will be needed to sign their draft class.

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Top Remaining Free Agents

While most of the top free agents in this year’s cycle have long since signed with new clubs, there are plenty of potential difference-makers still available. Those players remain on the market for various reasons — price tag, injury concerns, etc. — but they all could be a key factor in the fortunes of whatever team they ultimately join. Let’s take a look at the best of who’s still out there:

  1. Jadeveon Clowney: If you think you’ve been reading a lot about Clowney over the past couple of months, you’re right. That’s what happens when a former No. 1 overall pick and a young dynamic talent is still up for grabs this late in the offseason. Clowney’s high asking price, originally said to be $20MM per year, certainly scared some teams off, as did his recent core muscle surgery. Some will also point to his relatively low sack totals as evidence that he is not the dynamic pass rushing force that he believes himself to be. But he undeniably has the chops to be a game-changer against the run and pass, and he is content to wait for the right situation to come along. Once teams have the opportunity to evaluate him themselves, his market should heat up rapidly.
  2. Cam Newton: Here’s another former No. 1 overall pick that we have written a great deal about recently. Like Clowney, the 2015 MVP may be signed by now if interested teams could have their own doctors examine him, and Newton is willing to be patient and wait for that to happen if waiting will allow him to secure a starting gig somewhere. But at this point, it looks like only an injury or major underpeformance will open the door for a QB1 role in 2020, so he may have to settle for a top backup job for now and hit the free agent market again in 2021. He is reportedly warming to that idea.
  3. Everson Griffen: Like Clowney, Griffen is a talented pass rusher, but unlike Clowney, Griffen has multiple double-digit sack campaigns under his belt. The 32-year-old posted eight QB takedowns in 2019, and it is a little surprising to see him unsigned this late in the process. A reunion with the Vikings may be in the cards, and the Seahawks are the only other club to be connected to Griffen at this point.
  4. Jason Peters: The only reason Peters isn’t signed yet is because of his age (38). He turned in a typically terrific season in 2019, and he has been connected to a number of clubs over the past couple of months. The problem is, many of those teams have filled their needs at the offensive tackle spots, so even though Peters has said that he is willing to play on the left or the right side, his options are now more limited. The Chargers could still be in play, and another year with the Eagles may also be a reality.
  5. Logan Ryan: Unlike several of the players ahead of him on this list, Ryan doesn’t have any notable health concerns, but his asking price — he’s seeking around $10MM per year — could be depressing his market. He turned in a productive 2019 season with the Titans and has the versatility to move around the defensive backfield, which has apparently led to multi-year offers. Given the need for quality corners in today’s game, Ryan will likely land a lucrative deal soon, it just may not be as lucrative as he wants. The Jets and Dolphins are involved in the bidding.
  6. Markus Golden: Golden enjoyed what appeared to be a breakout season with the Cardinals in 2016, posting 12.5 sacks in just his second year in the league. But injuries limited the edge rusher over the 2017-18 seasons, and he had to settle for a one-year prove-it deal with the Giants in 2019. He perhaps thought that he proved it, recording 10 sacks for Big Blue, but those 10 sacks came from just 26 total pressures, which is probably an unsustainable conversion rate. So far, only the Giants — who put the rarely-used UFA tender on Golden — have been publicly connected to him.
  7. Devonta Freeman: We haven’t heard a peep about the two-time Pro Bowl running back since the Falcons released him in March. The fact that Atlanta replaced him with Todd Gurley and his frightening injury concerns isn’t a good sign, and Freeman’s 3.6 YPC average in 2019 certainly isn’t helping matters either. Freeman’s own injury problems limited him to two games in 2018, so he is now two years removed from his last effective season. It’s nonetheless a bit of a surprise that there have been no rumors of interest in his services.
  8. Delanie Walker: The best tight end left on the market, Walker has battled injuries over the past two seasons and will turn 36 in August, so it makes sense that we haven’t heard too much about him lately. But while he may not be a TE1 anymore, he could still be a useful weapon in the passing game, and he also has a history of being a strong blocker. The Colts, Packers, and Redskins were said to be interested in him in March, and those teams continue to look like good fits even after the draft. The Ravens, who rely heavily on TEs and who traded Hayden Hurst to the Falcons this offseason, also make some sense.
  9. Eric Reid: The 28-year-old safety turned in what appeared to be a strong year in 2019, starting all 16 games for the Panthers and posting a career-best 130 tackles. The problem is, he may have had so many tackle opportunities because he allowed over 77% of throws in his vicinity to be completed. Still, he is an experienced and generally solid back-end defender, and the Texans — who employ his brother, Justin Reid seem like a logical fit.
  10. Darqueze Dennard: Dennard, a former first-round pick of the Bengals, thought he had a deal with the Jaguars in March. But Jacksonville backed out of the deal, and while there was no word on why that happened, it could be that health concerns made the Jags skittish. Dennard missed the first few weeks of the 2019 season due to a knee procedure, but he did play every game from Week 10 forward and graded out well in terms of Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. He has been Cincinnati’s primary slot corner over the past several seasons, but there has been no reported interest in him since the failed Jaguars pact.

North Notes: Griffen, Robinson, Bengals

Everson Griffen is one of the top two pass rushers still on the market, and we heard last month that he would probably not re-sign with the Vikings. However, Minnesota did not do much to add to its pass rushing corps in the draft, with South Carolina DE D.J. Wonnum representing the most notable addition. And while GM Rick Spielman acknowledged that his team’s cap space makes it difficult to bring Griffen back, he did not rule it out.

“It is hard to say right now where everything is at and where we are at, [but] until things become more normalized I will never say never on a player,” Spielman recently said on the #PFTPM podcast (via PFT’s Mike Florio). “[Y]our roster is never set.”

Griffen has expressed an interest in joining the Seahawks, but Seattle is still open to bringing back Jadeveon Clowney. If Clowney returns to the ‘Hawks, perhaps Griffen will settle for a one-year deal on a Minnesota defense that he will not have to learn on the fly.

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • Of the three OTs the Vikings added in this year’s draft, only second-rounder Ezra Cleveland profiles as an immediate threat to incumbent LT Riley Reiff. The team could again entertain the notion of kicking Reiff inside to LG, but that’s only if Cleveland proves himself ready for starting left tackle duties, which would be a tall order given the COVID-19 restrictions. So as Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune suggests, Reiff will likely stay at LT for the time being, and 2019 fourth-rounder Dru Samia will compete with Pat Elflein for the starting LG slot. The team could also target a free agent for that role, including Josh Kline, whom the Vikings released in a cost-cutting move in March.
  • Bears WR Allen Robinson said towards the end of last season that he is interested in an extension with Chicago, but the two sides do not appear to be close to a new deal, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Robinson is ticketed for free agency after the 2020 campaign, and Biggs suggests that the franchise tag could be in play if there is no extension in place by the second month of the season.
  • Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic says both A.J. Green and the Bengals have interest in getting a long-term deal done, but it’s unclear exactly how much interest. He expects that nothing will come together prior to the July 15 deadline, which means Green will have to play out the 2020 season on his franchise tender. While there’s a better chance Cincinnati comes to terms with RB Joe Mixon on a new contract, that will not happen before a decision on Green is made. The Bengals are reportedly bracing themselves for a Mixon holdout.
  • In the same piece linked above, Dehner says the Bengals are unlikely to make any free agent additions to the O-line at this point. In a separate piece, he notes that Cincinnati made a free agent splash on cornerbacks in free agency because it did not like this year’s CB draft class. The team did not take a defensive back with any of its seven selections.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Gronk, Vikes, Bears

The Vikings broke up their years-long receiver tandem of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, shipping the latter to Buffalo for a package of picks. While the Vikings did not collect quite the haul they did for Percy Harvin seven years ago, Rick Spielman called it a business opportunity that benefited both Diggs and the Vikings (Twitter link via the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling). Spielman said he did not intend to trade Diggs when he last spoke at the Combine, but the Bills’ offer of a first-round pick and three Day 3 choices — including a 2021 fourth-rounder — was too enticing to pass up. The Bills also upped their offer from their previous one, which occurred before the 2019 deadline. The Vikings now hold the Nos. 22 and 25 overall picks in a receiver-loaded draft, and they now have a massive need at the position.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • Two years ago, the Lions nearly traded for Rob Gronkowski. Now that a team has actually swung a trade for the dominant tight end, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com provided the details (via Twitter) on the disparities between the Buccaneers and Lions’ offers. They are stark. The Lions offered the Pats their 2018 first-rounder (No. 20 overall) and were set to swap picks in the second round (dropping from No. 43 to 51) before the then-29-year-old tight end nixed the deal by threatening to retire. The Lions ended up picking Frank Ragnow in the first round; Gronkowski collected a third Super Bowl ring 10 months later and then retired. The Pats dealt the unretiring Gronk and a seventh-round pick to the Bucs for a fourth-rounder on Tuesday.
  • Everson Griffen remains unsigned and is “probably” gone from the Vikings, but the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson notes if Minnesota does not land a pass rusher in the draft it is not out of the question the 10-year veteran returns (Twitter link). Griffen issued a statement indicating an 11th Vikings season was not in the cards, but Tomasson indicates (via Twitter) he merely wanted to inform other teams he was available and not a lock to return to Minnesota. Griffen’s mental health episode in 2018 may well be impacting his free agency, with Tomasson tweeting teams would like to meet with him and discuss it. The 32-year-old edge defender will likely have to reassess his options after the draft.
  • Another year, another Bears kicking competition. After a very public kicker battle throughout the 2019 offseason, the Bears will hold another this year. Incumbent Eddy Pineiro will match up against lower-profile challenger Ramiz Ahmed, Ryan Pace confirmed (via the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jason Lieser). The Bears signed Ahmed, who kicked at Nevada for one season and has yet to kick in an NFL game, last week but had their eye on him as a UDFA last year. A late addition last summer, Pineiro made 23 of 28 field goals with the Bears last season.

Everson Griffen On Free Agency, 2018 Turmoil

Everson Griffen was going through a tough time in 2018. The Vikings pass-rusher missed five games as he dealt with personal issues following some concerning incidents, and he opened up about the experience, as well as his current free agency, for the first time during a recent interview with Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.

Nobody knew that I was living in a sober house,” Griffen told Pelissero. “I lived in the sober house for three months, from October to the end of the (2018) season. I was living like I was in college. Had a roommate, had a little bit of clothes. I was going to my meetings. I did the whole nine. That was a part of my recovery. Just to reset. I wanted to reset.” 

Griffen credited the period for putting him in a better space today, and said it wouldn’t be an issue moving forward. “I’m happy that 2018 happened, because I wouldn’t be sitting here today, being able to tell my story and showing teams that I am strong, I am healthy and there’s nothing really that you have to worry about, because I’m doing all the right things. There’s nothing I’m doing behind the scenes that they should be worried about. I’m doing everything possible to make sure that 2018 doesn’t happen again. And it will not happen,” he explained.

Griffen’s agent also told Pelissero that serious mental health issues like bipolar disorder had been ruled out during his evaluations, and that his “erratic behavior resulted from significant unresolved emotional distress,” such as the sudden death of his mother a handful of years ago. As for his free agency, the 32-year-old intimated the inability to conduct full evaluations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted his market.

This process, for me, has taken a lot of patience, a lot of self-reflection, too,” Griffen said. “It’s like, why haven’t (more) teams been interested? And the reason why is because they don’t know Everson.” While Griffen and his agent had publicly announced he wouldn’t be returning to the Vikings, Griffen told Pelissero he would “never say never” on a potential return.

Griffen has been with the Vikings ever since they drafted him in the fourth-round back in 2010. The last we heard a couple of weeks ago there was mutual interest with the Seahawks, and it sounds like he could be a top option for them if they don’t bring back Jadeveon Clowney. The USC product played in 15 games last year, racking up eight sacks. Often one of the league’s better pass-rushers, he’s made the Pro Bowl in four of the last five seasons.

Griffen says he isn’t in any rush to sign, and will take his time to find the right situation. He told Pelissero he still speaks with a team of therapists, clinical psychologists, and a life coach daily, and that he will be an open book for inquiring teams. Here’s to hoping that Griffen continues to do well off the field no matter where he’s suiting up in 2020.

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Everson Griffen Interested In Seahawks Deal

Although the Seahawks’ top priority at defensive end still appears to be working out a deal to retain Jadeveon Clowney, they may have a backup plan.

Everson Griffen is interested in joining the Seahawks, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. The Seahawks’ level of interest appears to be contingent on how Clowney proceeds, Tomasson adds.

Clowney remains unsigned, but after his market did not produce what was expected, the former No. 1 overall pick has been most closely connected to the Seahawks in his first free agency foray. Meanwhile, the Vikings will not re-sign Griffen. They were previously linked to be set to work out a new deal with the free agent edge defender.

The Seahawks re-signed defensive tackle Jarran Reed and brought back Bruce Irvin. Even though Seattle also drafted L.J. Collier in the 2019 first round, the team still has a need at defensive end. Griffen, 32, rebounded last season to post eight sacks and venture to his fourth Pro Bowl.

Griffen is eyeing a deal in the $8-$10MM/year range. Clowney is aiming for one closer to $20MM. The elder defender would certainly be a more cost-effective alternative and one with a more reliable history at sacking quarterbacks. A 10-year veteran, Griffen has 74.5 career sacks. Since Clowney came into the league in 2014, Griffen has 55 sacks. Clowney has 32 career sacks. While the latter is nearly six years younger and obviously has a longer career left, that is a notable disparity between the edge-rushing talents.

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Cowboys Won’t Sign Everson Griffen, Jadeveon Clowney

The Cowboys are in need of help on the edge after losing Robert Quinn in free agency. However, they’re unlikely to pursue two of the biggest names left: Everson Griffen and Jadeveon Clowney, according to Ed Werder of ESPN.com and Clarence Hill Jr. of the Star Telegram (Twitter links).

Griffen, we learned, won’t be back in Minnesota either. On Friday, his agent released a statement to share that the Vikings will not be re-signing him. On paper, he’d be a logical fit for the Cowboys – Griffen has a solid track record of generating pressure and he’s coming off of a strong comeback year. In 2019, the veteran notched eight sacks en route to his fourth career Pro Bowl nomination.

Clowney, meanwhile, is having trouble generating interest. Injuries are likely a factor, but the asking price is a bigger issue. At one point, we heard that the Seahawks free agent is seeking ~$20MM per season. Despite his pedigree as a former No. 1 overall pick and the ever-ballooning market for defensive ends, that’s probably an unrealistic ask.

The Cowboys – who still have multiple needs to address and limited room to fill them – appear poised to take a less splashy route as they look to replace Quinn.

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Everson Griffen Won’t Re-Sign With Vikings

Everson Griffen and the Vikings are going their separate ways. On Friday, agent Brian Murphy released the following statement (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com). 

We have broken off talks with Minnesota because they have to spend their money elsewhere and we decided to now focus our attention on free agency,” said Murphy.

There has been mutual interest between the two sides, but the price tag proved to be prohibitive. One league source estimated that the 32-year-old is in line for a deal worth $8MM-$10MM, plus incentives.

His last deal – a four-year, $58MM extension signed in 2017 – was cut short when Griffen triggered his option to escape. But, had he stayed, there was no guarantee that the Vikings would have kept him. Given their current stance, it seems likely that he would have been released.

The former fourth-rounder has spent his entire career with the Vikings, earning four Pro Bowl nods in ten seasons. This past season, Griffen finished with 41 tackles, eight sacks, and an interception. Since 2011, he’s put up at least 5.5 sacks in every campaign.

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Latest On Vikings’ Everson Griffen

There’s still strong mutual interest between the Vikings and free agent Everson Griffen, a source close to the defensive end tells Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (Twitter links). However, the defensive end market is still evolving and Griffen may have to wait for younger players to set the market price for the position. 

One league source familiar with Griffen’s situation tells Tomasson that the 32-year-old could be in line for a deal worth $8MM-$10MM, plus incentives. The veteran is coming off a four-year, $58MM extension he signed with Minnesota back in 2017.

The former fourth-rounder has spent his entire career with the Vikings, earning four Pro Bowl nods in 10 seasons. This past season, Griffen finished with 41 tackles, eight sacks, and an interception.

The pass rusher hasn’t compiled fewer than 5.5 sacks since 2011, and while he’s getting up there in age, he should still find himself with a long list of suitors.

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Vikings Plan To Keep Everson Griffen

Last week, Everson Griffen opted out of the remainder of his contract. He’s now set for free agency in March, but head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters on Wednesday that he still expects to keep him (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin).

Griffen earned the right to turn down the last three years of his pact by hitting a pair of statistical benchmarks. The rest of the deal would have paid him nicely, but there was no guarantee that the Vikings would have kept him at the same rate. By opting out, Griffen simply opened up his options – he says he’d like to stay in Minnesota, but he can also gauge the market for other offers.

The Vikings met with the veteran defensive end’s agent on Tuesday night, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The team also stood by him after he spent time away because of a mental health issue during the 2018 season. Griffen missed more than a month of action that season but bounced back in 2019. The 10-year veteran registered eight sacks and 24 quarterback hits. He will enter the 2020 season as the franchise’s fourth all-time leading sacker (since 1982).

Griffen returning will also continue a pattern for the Vikings. They have opted to keep their defensive core together for years, doing so despite annually being up against the cap. Minnesota’s $1.3MM in cap space ranks last in the league. While it cannot be ruled out Griffen departs, the Vikings have established continuity on defense for years now and have managed to maintain it while paying out Kirk Cousins‘ three-year, fully guaranteed contract.

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