Vikings expected to sign Everson Griffen: Six things to consider

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Everson Griffen voided his contract with the Vikings last offseason.

Minnesota would have likely been forced to release Griffen due to his large deal and the team’s salary cap situation. But some thought Griffen would re-sign on a cheaper deal.

However, the longtime Vikings edge rusher went elsewhere, signing with the Cowboys in free agency. Dallas then traded Griffen to NFC North rival Detroit.

Now, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Griffen is expected to be signed by Minnesota. The defensive end will return to a team where he was a four-time Pro Bowler.

Here are six things to consider with Griffen coming back:

It's a reunion

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Everson Griffen #97 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates after sacking Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Vikings drafted Griffen and he played his first 10 NFL seasons with the team. Besides 2020, Griffen has played his whole career with Minnesota. Vikings fans already know what an edge rushing tandem of Danielle Hunter and Griffen is capable of.

He criticized Kirk Cousins on Twitter

Oct 22, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Everson Griffen (97) celebrates after a tackle in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this offseason, Griffen criticized Cousins over Twitter and implied that Vikings coach Mike Zimmer didn't want the quarterback. Griffen later deleted the tweets and apologized for them. I think the move to get Griffen is unsurprising for a couple reasons: he's a former Vikings player and Minnesota could use an extra defensive end. But I think it's surprising because of what Griffen said about the franchise quarterback not that long ago.

He adds a pass rush

Dec 8, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) during team intros prior to the game against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota's pass rush was horrendous last year. The Vikings' sack leader was Yannick Ngakoue, a player they traded after a 1-5 start. PFF ranked Minnesota as having the worst pass rush in the league for 2020. Danielle Hunter returning should be a big boost, but Griffen should help as well now. Griffen, despite getting up there in age, can still provide pressure off the edge at times. He had 3.5 sacks last year in just seven games and two starts.

It shows where the Vikings are at with their current pass rush

Jan 14, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly (91) against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoff football game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The acquisition of Griffen can be taken as a sign — Minnesota wants more competition off the edge. The Vikings had Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum as the two frontrunners for the starting edge spot this offseason. But the team felt the need to add someone else to the mix. That should tell you something.

He may not start this time around

Jan 14, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) is introduced before the NFC Divisional Playoff football game against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings fans have been well accustomed to seeing Griffen take a lot of defensive snaps for the team in the past. Except now Griffen is 33. He started just two games last year. I think he competes for the starting spot in 2021, but he may not be as reliable as he once was, either due to durability or on-field production.

If Griffen thrives, the defense is complete

Oct 22, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Danielle Hunter (99) and defensive lineman Everson Griffen (97) celebrate a sack in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota retooled its defense this offseason with players like Patrick Peterson and Dalvin Tomlinson. With all the free agents the team added, there was really just one hole on that side of the ball. The edge rusher spot opposite Danielle Hunter has been a question mark all offseason. Griffen having a bounce-back year would fill that hole, and lead to the Vikings having one of the more complete defenses in the NFL.

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