The Minnesota Vikings have made a number of shrewd moves throughout the 2014 offseason, both in free agency and the 2014 NFL Draft. However, the re-signing of defensive end Everson Griffen was not one of them.
Griffen received a five-year, $42.5 million contract from the Vikings this offseason. To put this into perspective, Griffen is now the sixth highest paid defensive end in the NFL in terms of total contract value. His contract is comparable to the contracts of players such as Cameron Wake or Trent Cole.
While Griffen has shown flashes of being an above average – possibly even an elite – NFL player, he has never been a full-time starter in the league. Therefore, his contract should not reflect those of veteran, above-average NFL starters such as Wake or Cole.
The most concerning piece of Griffen’s contract is the amount of guaranteed money he received. Griffen will receive $19.8 million in guaranteed money, 46.6 percent of his total contract, over the course of the next five seasons. When elite defensive end Mario Williams signed his mega-deal with the Buffalo Bills, he received $24.9 million in guaranteed money, roughly a fourth of his total contract.
Charles Johnson, a Carolina Panthers defensive end, currently plays under a six-year, $76 million contract. While Johnson has been a productive NFL player, he is certainly not worth this type of money. In fact, many analysts have argued that this is one of the worst current NFL contracts. Griffen’s contract may not have a comparable per-year or total value to that of Johnson’s, but the guaranteed money per year is very similar.
When Michael Johnson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Vikings panicked and offered Griffen too lucrative of a contract. In return, the Vikings’ assured themselves of keeping “their guy,” but may have hindered their future to some extent. Griffen’s contract will hit the Vikings’ cap to the tune of $8.2 million from 2014-2017, and then $9.7 million in 2018, so the team better hope he can fulfill his contract to some extent.