In the wake of the Minnesota Vikings signing defensive end Everson Griffen to a 5-year, $42.5 million contract, reactions generally fell along one of two lines.
1) Hooray, the Vikings are keeping Everson Griffen, or
2) Holy crap, that's a whole lot of money for Everson Griffen.
I've never understood the logic of freaking out over sports contract, particularly in this day and age in the National Football League, for two reasons.
First off, the National Football League is not a business where you get paid based on what you've done. It's a business where you get paid based on what a team thinks you're going to do. If the Vikings wanted to give a pass rusher a load of money based on their resume, then they could have given Jared Allen the contract that they gave Griffen. But Mike Zimmer and company have obviously done their homework on Everson Griffen and think that he could be the cornerstone of their defense going forward. Hence the reason that he got paid.
And according to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, if the Vikings weren't going to step up and pay him, apparently at least one fairly prominent team was willing to do so.
The other reason is that, with the way contracts are structured in the National Football League, after the first two seasons you're basically talking about Monopoly money. Griffen's contract is no different, as ESPN's Ben Goessling details here.
Basically, Griffen's contract is heavily front-loaded, with all $20 million of guaranteed money coming in the first two years of the deal. If Griffen flops, the Vikings can cut him after those first two seasons with minimal salary cap ramifications. If he blossoms the way that Mike Zimmer and company apparently expect him to, then they have him locked up with a relatively small cap hit for the final three years of the deal. Is it a big hit up front? Yes. But it's one that the Vikings can absorb, particularly if the salary cap keeps going upward substantially over the next few years.
Rob Brzezinski is one of the best salary cap guys in the business, folks. He has been for a very long time. He and Rick Spielman are going to do their best to keep the Vikings from going back into cap hell, and Everson Griffen's new contract is an example of that.