With Vikings free agent Jared Allen moving on from the Vikings, dwindling his possible list to less than five teams, Minnesota decided to re-sign another defensive end before free agency kicks off on Tuesday. Defensive end Everson Griffen is signing a five-year deal to return with the Minnesota Vikings, according to Ian Rapoport with the NFL Network.
DE Everson Griffen is re-signing with the Vikings on a huge 5-year deal, per source— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2014
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the deal is worth $42.5 million with $20 million guaranteed.
Pro Football Focus rated Griffen as eighth-best defensive end headed into free agency.
Everson Griffen, a fourth-round draft pick out of USC in 2010, was not a starter, but was one of only four Vikings defenders to finish the season with a ‘green’ overall grade. It did take him four weeks into the season to record more than two pressures, and he only had one spectacular pass rushing performance (registering nine pressures against an underrated Washington offensive line in Week 10 on Thursday Night Football). But it’s worth noting he was never blanked in the 2013 season and his only overall-negatively graded season in his four-year career came in 2012 and was mostly due to penalties (he had eight). Any team looking for depth should take a look.
Griffen has 17.5 quarterback sacks in his career, reaching a career-high 8.0 in 2012 -- followed that up with 5.5 in 2013.
The more interesting question is how this affects a possible Michael Johnson deal. Minnesota is considered one of, if not the, top suitors for Johnson, and one of three teams named as having inquired about him on Saturday. That possibility may have been removed Sunday afternoon.
Sounds as if the Vikings will be keeping DE Everson Griffen around. Which would seem to take them out of Michael Johnson picture.— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) March 9, 2014
Everson Griffen heading back to MIN also means one less suitor for Michael Johnson, for whatever that's worth.— The Pewter Plank (@ThePewterPlank) March 9, 2014
On the other hand, the Vikings have over $40 million available in cap space (before the Griffen deal), so one could assume that Johnson is very much alive.
However, the $8.5 million/year average that Griffen is receiving on his new deal is well below the projected $10 million/year that Johnson could be asking for. Griffen's deal also sets a benchmark for Johnson's guaranteed numbers, which figure go well north of $20 million -- maybe $25 million on a five-year deal with a total value of $50 million?
If that's the range that Johnson is looking for, it's sandwiches between the contracts signed by Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap -- which to us would seem fair. Whether or not the Bengals want to have $142.697 million tied up with the defensive line requires a greater inquiry.
If the Vikings are out, that would likely put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in first position for Johnson, who are reportedly making a significant push to sign him. Cincinnati is still talking with Johnson, but don't expect much movement prior to free agency on Tuesday. And there's always a dark horse to consider -- upwards to seven teams have reportedly inquired about him (we knew of three when that was originally reported).