Longtime Minnesota Vikings great Everson Griffen took to social media on Friday to announce that he won’t be returning to the team in 2020. He thanked the fans for their support over the years and also acknowledged his teammates, whom he stated “were like brothers to him.”
The star defensive end has been with the team since they drafted him in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Griffen will be remembered for his high energy on and off the field. He will finish his Vikings’ career with 353 tackles, 74.5 sacks and two interceptions. Griffen was one of the Vikings’ all-time great pass rushers and one of their best draft picks over the last decade.
This announcement does come as a bit of a shock. At the NFL Combine, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer expressed confidence that Griffen would be back with the team this season. They certainly would want him back for a couple of reasons. First, he played great last year. The team was able to restructure his contract last offseason and he bounced back from a dismal 2018 campaign, with 41 tackles and 8.0 sacks.
The second reason the Vikings would want him back is to provide depth.
Danielle Hunter is one of the best pass rushers in the league, and he’ll still man the left side of the Vikings’ defensive line. Ifeadi Odenigbo will in all likelihood be the right defensive end, but the depth behind him is a big question mark. With Stephen Weatherly going to Carolina and now Griffen leaving, the only player remaining on the depth chart is Eddie Yarbrough, whom the team signed off the streets during the playoffs last year. This pushes up their need at defensive end quite a bit and it is now one they’ll need to address fairly early in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Griffen was a great player on the field and a character off it. It will be hard for Vikings fans to see him in a different uniform next season, but he’ll always be remembered fondly as being one of the best edge rushers to ever put on that purple jersey.