EAGAN, Minn. -- Less than a week after defensive end Everson Griffen opted out of the final three years of his contract — an expected move considering he had no guaranteed money left on the deal — Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer still thinks there’s a way to keep the 32-year-old fan favorite in the Twin Cities.
Talking to reporters at the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Feb. 26, Zimmer confirmed that the Vikings have met with Griffen’s agent, and it sounds like both sides are interested in working out a deal.
“He’s a terrific person,” Zimmer said of Griffen. “I think our situation is the right one for him. We expect him to be back. I think he wants to be back, and those kinds of things usually work (their) way out.”
After restructuring his contract before last season to avoid being cut, Griffen finished with eight sacks while playing 78 percent of the team’s defensive plays. Those numbers allowed Griffen to void the final three years of his contract, thanks to language tied to those milestones inserted into his contract when he agreed to the restructure.
“As we’re going back through the (film) and watching some of the pass things, he’s still a really good pass rusher,” Zimmer said. “He’s got a great relationship with (co-defensive coordinator) Andre (Patterson). He loves the guys here in the locker room. I think he understands that we’re going to do the best for him all of the time.”
The Vikings’ fourth-round draft choice in 2010, Griffen, 32, slowly worked himself into the rotation, eventually emerging a legitimate star pass rusher. He has 74 1/2 sacks for his career, trailing only John Randle (114), Chris Doleman (96 1/2), and Jared Allen (85 1/2) for most in franchise history.
“I want to be a Viking for life,” Griffen said the day after the Vikings lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs last month. “It’s a business, so we’ll figure it out when that time gets here.”