One of the most surprising remaining free agents is defensive end, Everson Griffen. He is likely still a free agent due to the fact that arguably the best free-agent edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney is still available and teams would rather spend their money on a younger and more athletic edge rusher like him than Griffen. However at age 32, Griffen had a better season than Clowney did last year.
Griffen was a fourth-round pick from 2010 who worked his way from rotational edge rusher to one of the best edge rushers in the entire league. Griffen has 74.5 career sacks. He also has been to the Pro Bowl four times and was listed as an All-Pro once in his career. This past season in 2019-20 Griffen has eight sacks and was named a Pro Bowl replacement.
Griffen decided to opt-out of the rest of his contract with the Minnesota Vikings so that way it could be renegotiated to pay Griffen a reasonable price for his age. However three months after being cut he is still on the market. Here are some teams who could sign Griffen before training camp starts.
Team: Minnesota Vikings
Contract: 2 years $21 million (with an opt-out after one year)
The biggest reason Griffen felt comfortable opting out of the rest of his contract was because he knew Minnesota would try to figure out a reasonable number to bring him back. However the Vikings and Griffen were unable to come to an agreement so Griffen decided to test out his market. The Vikings might have gotten younger in their secondary, but have not addressed the edge rusher position opposite of Danielle Hunter.
Former seventh-round pick Ifeadi Odenigbo is expected to take Griffen’s spot in the starting lineup. They can feel confident in Odenigbo because he had seven sacks in limited action last year. However the Vikings can still keep Odenigbo heavily involved and bring back Griffen on a short term deal. The two can rotate in and out of the lineup until the Vikings feel that Odenigbo is ready to take the starting job from Griffen. If Odenigbo shows that last year was a fluke, then the Vikings can retain him for another season until they find his replacement. The Vikings don’t have to commit to Griffen and make him the future of the team, but he is still good enough to be the present.
Goodbye Jadeveon Clowney
Team: Seattle Seahawks
Contract: 2 year $26 million
The Seattle Seahawks could very well likely be Griffen’s next home, but they also could be part of the reason why he is still on the market. Since Seattle is leaving Clowney available, teams in need of edge rushers are trying to sign Clowney or find out his price and view Griffen as a potential consolation prize. Seattle is lacking a proven veteran edge rusher on their roster from both defensive end positions. The Seahawks will be rotating Bruce Irvin, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Benson Mayowa and rookies Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson. Out of those players Irvin is the most reliable, but it is very likely that he will resume the Leo linebacker role he had when he originally played in Seattle.
Griffen could be a legitimate reliable starting defensive end for Seattle, that not even Clowney was last year. The Seahawks defense is coming back together and needs a consistent pass rush to reassert themselves as one of the better defensive units in the league. At one point Seattle looked like the only team last year that could stop the San Fransisco 49ers last year. Adding an impact player like Griffen to an already talented roster could give them the boost to become Super Bowl contenders once again.
Keeping the Eagles competitive
Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Contract: 1 year $10.5 million
This offseason was an interesting one for the Philadelphia Eagles. They nailed free agency signing Javon Hargrave and traded for Darius Slay. But many argued that they had a terrible draft selecting Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson and selecting Jalen Hurts in the second round with Carson Wentz already on the roster on a long term contract. In a very competitive and talented NFC, the Eagles are on the cusp of being a contender. Last season the Eagles were able to sneak themselves into the playoffs with a depleted injured roster. But with the NFC getting more talented the Eagles are on the bubble between potential playoff team and average.
The Eagles have always had a lot of depth and talent across their defensive line, especially since Jim Schwartz became the teams defensive coordinator. Adding Griffen to the defensive line group made up of Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Fletcher Cox, Hargrave and Malik Jackson would give the Eagles one of the best in the league. A unit like that could catapult the Eagles back into the Super Bowl picture. Also former first-round pick Derek Barnett has not played up to his draft selection in his first few years in the league. Griffen’s talent and leadership could be what the Eagles need to be competitive in 2020.
Because Why Not?!
Team: Cleveland Browns
Contract: 1 year $12 Million
The Cleveland Browns’ offseason has given people hope (again) that they could be contenders. They have addressed most of, if not all, major roster holes on their roster and have $37 million in available cap space. They also have question marks about the edge rusher they have opposite Myles Garrett. Olivier Vernon did not have the season many expected only having 3.5 sacks in 11 games. Vernon is getting paid $15.5 million this year, which is a hefty price tag for last year’s production. Vernon is expected to have between 7-10 sacks, possibly more considering Garrett should be receiving attention from double teams. An interesting note is that because Vernon was acquired via trade, the Browns don’t have to guarantee Vernon any of his contract. So he could be cut and the Browns could get an extra $15.5 million added to their salary cap.
Whether the Browns cut Vernon or not the Browns should try to sign Griffen. They have the luxury of having the funds to add Griffen and not many other needs remaining on their roster. Griffen can compete with Vernon for the starting job and the two can rotate in and out of the lineup. If defensive coordinator Joe Woods wants to get creative he could consider playing Griffen inside at defensive tackle or Vernon at outside linebacker for a couple of snaps a game. If he joined the Browns he would also reunite with former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and teammate Sheldon Richardson who both played well when lined up next to each other. Griffen would be a great insurance policy that ensures that the Browns will get near-elite production opposite Garrett and could potentially make them a playoff team.
The cherry on top to a great offseason
Team: Arizona Cardinals
Contract: 2 years $20 Million
The Cardinals reportedly have interest in DE Everson Griffen, who may be waiting for the ability to visit teams before making a decision on his 2020 team https://t.co/O5McHSrhsD
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 23, 2020
There is a case to be made that the Arizona Cardinals had the best offseason and could make the biggest case to go from worst to first next year. After Bruce Arians’ Cardinals teams got old and slowly started to deplete, the Cardinals fell to the bottom of the league. In 2019, the Cardinals had the first overall selection. That selection was spent on Kyler Murray, who inspired hope for the team’s future. This offseason the Cardinals spent big names of free agents Jordan Philips, De’Vondre Campbell and Devon Kennard. The team also retained Kenyan Drake who emerged as the teams starting running back at the end of last year and traded (seemingly nothing) for DeAndre Hopkins. On top of all their acquisitions the team drafted extremely well. They draft class was headlined by Isaiah Simmons.
The Cardinals are building a team that can escape the bottom of arguably the best division in football the NFC West. They have made major changes adding big-time players to their roster. Arizona’s offense will be an exciting watch, many are looking forward to the Murray-Hopkins connection, but the Cardinals’ defense should not be slept on either. Besides the additions, they have made on defense this year the team already has Patrick Peterson, Chandler Jones, Budda Baker and Jordan Hicks too.
Insert Griffen on this defense, and we could see one of the better units in all of football. Griffen would be an interesting fit on the Cardinals’ defense because they run a 3-4 front. Griffen could line up at outside linebacker opposite Chandler Jones, but putting Griffen in coverage at age 32 for the first time in dangerous. He will likely start in the interior defensive line. He could line up at 3-4 defense end next to Jordan Philips and Zach Allen. That Cardinals front seven could be one of the best in the league with multiple threats to get after the quarterback. Putting Griffen on the same team as Chandler Jones is scary enough, now add in the rest of the roster and the Cardinals have an elite pass rush. If the rumors are true that the Cardinals are interested in Griffen they should jump on the opportunity to sign him to become one of the better teams in the NFC once again.
Solidifying the Defense in Big D
Team: Dallas Cowboys
Contract: 1 year $10 Million
The Dallas Cowboys are currently negotiating with the biggest ‘free agent’ in the headlines right now Dak Prescott. But the negotiations have not stopped Dallas from signing other big-name free agents. Those free agents include Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Aldon Smith and even Prescott’s projected back up Andy Dalton. After the draft, the Cowboys are still lacking a reliable starter opposite DeMarcus Lawerence on their defensive line. Currently Tyrone Crawford, Aldon Smith, Dorance Armstrong, rookie Bradlee Anae and (if reinstated) Randy Gregory are expected to compete for the starting job and or rotate in and out of the lineup.
The Dallas Cowboys cannot afford to sign Griffen currently because they only have just over $4 million in remaining salary cap. However if the Cowboys let go of longtime defensive lineman for the team Tyrone Crawford they will be able to afford him. Crawford has been a versatile and solid piece, but he has not been able to produce more than 5.5 sacks in a season. The Cowboys might need to let him go just so they can upgrade and solidify their pass rush. Dallas’ defense has a lot of star power, but after losing Byron Jones they will need to boost their pass rush to make up for the fact that it will be harder to defend receivers. Their current secondary will need some help from the defensive lineman in order to prevent quarterbacks from dissecting their defense. Griffen can be the boost the Cowboys need to help their secondary and also create one of the leagues best pass-rushing duos with Lawerence.