EAGAN, Minn. — Defensive end Everson Griffen has renegotiated his contract, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman announced Thursday.
Spielman confirmed the restructure that helped the Vikings — a team that entered the 2019 year without much wiggle room in its salary cap — during a session with media members after re-introducing Anthony Barr and Shamar Stephen for a press conference.
The Vikings were able to re-sign Barr, who has been with the Vikings since 2014, and bring Stephen back to the Twin Cities after the 2014 seventh-round pick spent a year in Seattle.
“We were able to restructure Everson,” Spielman said. “It was down to the wire, as you have seen, but Everson came in a couple of days ago and had a long talk with [Head Coach Mike] Zimmer and [defensive line coach] Andre Patterson. I was able to visit with him today and appreciate everything that he does. I know that he appreciates this organization and loyalty that goes both ways. His agent did a great job. His agent — their agency — has Anthony Barr as well, so I want to thank Athletes First for everything that they’re doing, that we’re able to do.”
The Vikings reportedly had until 3 p.m. (CT) Thursday to renegotiate with Griffen, whom Spielman said was in the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center parking lot at 2:40, Spielman’s office at 2:45 and scribbling his signature at 2:50.
“The rest is history,” Spielman said before elaborating on Griffen’s willingness to restructure.
“The biggest thing — it starts with our ownership — is we feel this organization is a family,” Spielman said. “It’s why — our approach, whether we’re right or wrong — we’re able to get guys like Anthony Barr to come back, why we’re able to get guys like Shamar to come back, to keep guys when we have to make tough business decisions.
“I think that’s the culture that we’ve tried to create and will continue to create,” he continued. “I think that’s why we’re able to retain as many players as we have and have been able to get as many extensions as we’ve been able to do. That all starts with our ownership group, with the culture that Coach Zimmer has built here and the culture with the type of players that we bring into the organization.”
Griffen joined the Vikings as a fourth-round draft pick in 2010 and blossomed into a starter in 2014, the first season under Zimmer. That October, he garnered NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors after a dominant four-game stretch in which he recorded 6.0 sacks, eight quarterback hits and forced a fumble.
He has totaled 66.5 sacks — seventh in Vikings history — in 73 starts and 132 total games, delivering fiery pre-game speeches along the way. The Arizona native and Southern Cal alum also has nine forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries, including one he returned for a touchdown. He also has scored on returns of an interception and blocked punt.
Griffen recorded 12 sacks in 2014, 10.5 in 2015, 8.0 in 2016 and a career-best 13 in 2017, which ranked fourth in the NFL. That season, Griffen helped Minnesota lead the NFL in yards allowed, points allowed and third-down conversion percentage by opponents.
The 2017 season started with Griffen recording at least one sack in Minnesota’s first eight games for a whopping 10 through the first half of the season. The streak of games with at least one sack tied Jim Marshall and Jared Allen for the Vikings record. Unfortunately, Griffen suffered a foot injury against Cleveland in Week 8 that caused him to miss one game. He played through it, however, the rest of the way.
Griffen opened the 2018 season by splitting sacks in each of the Vikings first two games before stepping away for five weeks to focus on his mental health. Vikings players, coaches and staff showed their support for Griffen during his time away from the team.
He returned to the lineup in Week 8 against New Orleans and had 1.5 sacks against Detroit in Week 9, an effort that was part of a franchise-record 10 sacks by the Vikings in a game.
Spielman said that Griffen is “in a very good place,” and understands the role he can play in helping others.
“I know in talking with Everson that he’s got a very good chance to be a shining light on mental health and doing things the right way,” Spielman said. “Getting the help, it’s not something that should be looked at as a negative. It’s something that should be looked at as a positive, on all the steps that he has taken.
“Our organization, from the ownership group down, has given us the resources to put those pieces in place so if we do have a player or anyone in our building that has an issue, that we will be able to provide the resources necessary for them to get the guidance and help that they need,” Spielman said. “I think that’s part of this culture, part of the family atmosphere that we’re trying to create.”