Everson Griffen Jersey

Everson Griffen has had an interesting offseason with the Minnesota Vikings being the subject of trade talks and potential salary cap casualty talk, but he ultimately wound up restructuring his deal to return to the team. With that being said, it seems as if there was legitimate smoke to the rumors that he could have been on the move, and it would have addressed a major position of need.

Speaking on the Access Vikings podcast hosted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, beat writers Andrew Krammer and Ben Goessling discussed a trade that was reportedly on the table that would have sent the veteran defensive end to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for guard Kevin Zeitler. The deal fell through when Cleveland agreed to a trade with the New York Giants that landed them pass rusher Oliver Vernon (and then was coupled into the trade for Odell Beckham Jr.), but it appears that the Vikings did attempt to upgrade their offensive line through dealing their veteran star.

“With Everson Griffen, you brought him up, I had heard this offseason that they tried to go after Kevin Zeitler with Everson Griffen, and that’s around the same time that the Giants decided to offer up, and probably for a while had been talking about giving up Olivier Vernon. So that was a defensive end for a guard swap that the Vikings were well-positioned to make, but couldn’t. But if you’re the Vikings, that would have been a steal. I have heard they tried to do that, but it fell apart when the Browns decided to send him to New York,” Krammer said on the podcast.

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Zeitler, 29, is set to make $10 million in 2019, so a swap of Griffen and Zeitler would have actually not only saved the Vikings about $1 million in cap space, but they also would have added one of the more highly-regarded guards in the league to their offensive line unit. Griffen, 31, would later restructure his deal after Anthony Barr signed and his cap hit now stands at around $8 million for the 2019 campaign.

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The restructured deal kicks the can down the road for what Griffen’s contract could do to the team’s cap number, as his cap hit for the 2020 season sits at $13.9 million and hits for 2021 and 2022 coming in at $14.4 million and $15.5 million, respectively. That said, the dead cap hit in those years goes from $800,000 down to $400,000 down to nothing from 2020-22, so they can get themselves out of that deal fairly easily.

Griffen, a fourth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, is entering his 10th season in the NFL, all with the Vikings. During that time, he has racked up 66.5 career sacks in 73 career starts (132 games played). However, last season was a bit of a struggle for the veteran pass rusher, as he missed five games to tend to a mental health issue and posted his lowest sack total since the 2013 season with 5.5 sacks on the year.

Heading into the 2019 offseason, there were some who believed that Everson Griffen had already played his last snap in a Minnesota Vikings uniform.

Griffen had a large cap hit for 2019 looming and he was coming off of one of the least productive seasons of his NFL career. So the defensive end playing elsewhere in 2019 began to actually seem like a legit possibility.

Griffen will be sticking around with the Vikings for at least another season though after the two sides recently agreed to a restructured deal. But the new terms of his contract apparently came after Minnesota attempted to trade the veteran pass rusher to the Cleveland Browns earlier in the offseason.

According to the Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer on Wednesday, the Vikings wanted to acquire Browns offensive guard Kevin Zeitler and Minnesota was using Griffen as part of the trade package they were offering.

Cleveland eventually decided to send Zeitler packing, but not to the Vikings. Instead, the Browns traded the offensive guard and a 2019 fifth-round draft pick to the New York Giants in exchange for pass rusher Olivier Vernon and a 2019 fourth-round selection.

Vernon is three years younger than Griffen and this likely played a big part in Cleveland not taking Minnesota up on whatever they were offering for Zeitler.

Everson Griffen is seeing his name being brought up as a possible cap casualty as the Minnesota Vikings look for ways to free up salary cap space for the 2019 offseason. Those rumors are not unfounded, as it appears the front office is drawing a bit of a line in the sand about the future of the veteran defensive end.

Multiple media reports on Tuesday have stated that the Vikings have submitted an offer to restructure his deal in the aftermath of the Anthony Barr contract, which is set to pay the linebacker $13.5 million per season. ESPN’s Courtney Cronin gives a detailed explanation below. A decision should be coming soon, as his salary for 2019 locks in at midnight on Friday.

“It’s been quiet on the Everson Griffen front (on Tuesday), but that doesn’t mean there isn’t work going on behind the scenes. I’m told that Griffen and his representation have been approached with the terms of a restructure from the Vikings and that the defensive end has expressed a desire to remain in Minnesota, but doing so will probably have to come via different terms than the way his contract is currently structured with $10.9 million of his base salary set to become fully guaranteed on Friday. As of right now, the ball is in Griffen’s court as to whether he wants to accept the new terms the Vikings laid forth or aim to continue his career elsewhere. It’s possible that these talks could continue on past the 3 p.m. start of the new league year on Wednesday. Theoretically, the Vikings could structure Anthony Barr’s new deal to fit under the cap in 2019 to buy them time to work through talks with Griffen, but in the end, whether the DE takes a restructure is likely going to determine his future in Minnesota.”

Griffen, a fourth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, is entering his 10th season in the NFL, all with the Vikings. During that time, he has racked up 66.5 career sacks in 73 career starts (132 games played). However, last season was a bit of a struggle for the veteran pass rusher, as he missed five games to tend to a mental health issue and posted his lowest sack total since the 2013 season with 5.5 sacks on the year.

He signed a contract extension with the team during training camp in 2017 that came in at four-years, $58 million through the 2022 season. Should the Vikings decide to release or trade him, it would free up $10.5 million in cap room with a dead cap hit of $1.2 million.

The NFL is a business, and sometimes a harsh one despite the good faith in which contracts are signed. The Vikings would likely love to have Griffen back on some sort of renegotiated deal, but given his production, point in his career and the price tag, not everything currently matches up and it does appear that he at least has lost a little bit of a step. They have a tough decision to make in terms of what his worth to the franchise is and it would not be a shock to see them start to tune down his role as they did with Brian Robison, but it would be really hard to justify keeping him around at almost $11 million.

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