Not long after the NFL lifted its ban on free agent tryouts, the Cowboys landed one of the biggest names left on the market. As the NFL.com crew of Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero, and Jane Slater were first to report (via Twitter), Dallas is signing longtime Vikings edge defender Everson Griffen.
It will be a one-year deal for Griffen worth up to $6MM. According to Kimberly A. Martin of ESPN.com (via Twitter), $3MM will come in the form of a base salary, and the remaining $3MM is comprised of roster bonuses. There are no performance-based incentives, but if Griffen suits up for all 16 games, he will pocket $6MM.
The Cowboys have loaded up on defensive firepower this offseason, adding Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Aldon Smith to the front seven. The team did see Robert Quinn defect to the Bears via free agency, but Griffen will replace Quinn for a fraction of the $70MM that the latter will receive over a five-year term with Chicago. Griffen makes an excellent bookend to fellow DE DeMarcus Lawrence, and his presence will allow Dallas to be less reliant on Smith — who hasn’t played since 2015 — and Randy Gregory, who is still seeking reinstatement. The Cowboys seem likely to remain in a 4-3 scheme, with Lawrence and Griffen sandwiching Poe and McCoy as part of a stout, veteran-laden front.
Though we heard back in March that the Cowboys were unlikely to sign Griffen, that was not long after free agency opened, and it could be that Griffen’s price has come down considerably since then. Indeed, Todd Archer of ESPN.com says Dallas has had Griffen on the radar most of the offseason, and Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com thinks the salary cap space created by Dallas’ COVID-19 opt-outs may have made the team more willing to pull the trigger (Twitter link).
Griffen, 32, boasts 74.5 sacks over his ten seasons with the Vikings, to go along with four Pro Bowl bids. He earned one of those Pro Bowl trips last season in an eight-sack campaign that proved he still has plenty left in the tank.
Minnesota did not do much to bolster its pass rush this offseason, and it was beginning to look like the team would ultimately reunite with Griffen, whose market was seemingly slow to develop. Indeed, Rapoport tweets that the Vikings and the Seahawks were vying for Griffen’s services, but both lost out to Dallas, whose interest had not been publicly reported at all.
Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune confirms that Minnesota was making a push to re-sign Griffen in recent days, with head coach Mike Zimmer spearheading the sales pitch (Twitter link). The Vikings hoped that Griffen’s familiarity with the only pro team he has ever known, as well as the fact that his permanent home is in Minnesota, would tip the scales in their favor. Though he doesn’t have exact numbers, Darren Wolfson of KSTP says (via Twitter) the Vikes made a competitive offer, but Griffen has elected to start the next chapter of his career in Jerry World.
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