DN you got to let me know....should I stay or should I go?
—The Clash (almost)
Hi kids, how are we doing? With the off-season in a dull period between now and the beginning of the new league year and free agency, I want to start a series that I’m going to call ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ We are going to look at some key personnel on the Vikings, and I am going to present a ‘pro’ and ‘con’ case for either keeping them or moving on. I will look at several different factors, and at the end, I will put a poll up for you to decide, armchair GM, whether or not the Vikings should keep that player for 2020.
Not sure how many of these I’m going to do, but I know for sure I’m not going to do every player or pending free agent on the roster, just the ones that have been the most talked about so far. And no, I’m not going to do players that are under contract and have big cap numbers, like Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs, and Danielle Hunter, because barring something completely out of left field, they’re going to be on the roster for the 2020 season.
Today’s subject is Everson Griffen.
Everson Griffen, DE
2020 Salary Cap hit (and dead money): $13.8 million ($800,000)
Should I stay?
Quite simply, Griffen has been one of the best players in recent Vikings history, is a defensive captain, and is the heart and soul of this team. After a rocky 2018 that saw him miss some time, he came back strong in 2019, and Griffen and Danielle Hunter were one of the best DE tandems in the NFL. He had eight sacks, 43 hurries, and 14 QB hits. When you add up sacks, pressures, and hits, according to PFF he ranked 14th in the NFL among edge rushers with 66 (PFF credits him with nine sacks, official NFL statistics credit him with eight).
Griffen is still a front line starter, and replacing him wouldn’t be easy. Besides Hunter, the only other DE’s on the roster are Ifeadi Odenigbo and Eddie Yarbrough. Odenigbo showed some serious promise and really flashed at times, but is still largely unproven.
Selected by the Vikings in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, 2020 will mark his 11th year in the NFL, making him the longest tenured Viking on the roster.
Should I go?
Age and economics might make this decision before football talent, because I believe Griffen has some good football left. His seniority belies the fact that Griffen is now 32, which is getting up there for a defensive end in the NFL. The Vikings are either $11.3 million (Over The Cap) or $12.3 million (Spotrac) over the salary cap, and cutting just Griffen alone gives the Vikings $13 million in cap relief, getting them in the green no matter which number you use.
Last year, the Vikings were able to re-negotiate a new deal with Griffen right before the cut deadline, and I would expect them to try to work something out again this year. Last year, though, the difference between what he was going to make and what his deal ended up being only amounted to $3 million. His original salary was $10.9 million, and after his re-structure he made just under $8 million. This year, though, the difference between what he is supposed to make and what the Vikings will offer/can afford will probably be significantly bigger, upwards of $5-6 million, if not more, and that could be a bridge too far. And can a re-structure give them enough cap relief, along with other impending moves, to give the Vikings the flexibility to address other needs? I don’t know.
I do know one thing, something both the Vikings and Griffen know as well—if he is a member of the Vikings in 2020, it won’t be at his projected salary.
Another question the Vikings are probably asking themselves is whether Odenigbo could step into a full time starter’s role, and I think the answer might be yes, at least on the field. Per PFF he played less than half the snaps Griffen played (849 to 368) but only had one less sack and seven less hits. Hunter had almost four times as many pressures (43 to 11), so that, and his locker room presence, would be a big difference between the two.
Is it something that will be enough to sway the Vikings? Only time will tell.
Should Everson Griffen stay or go?
This poll is closed
Stay on what will be a re-structured deal