As we maintain the drumbeat for Seattle to upgrade its pass rush this offseason, one of the mallets we have been using all along is Everson Griffen.
Whether it’s by trade or by free-agent signing, it just seems like a pretty fair chance that Pete Carroll and his former USC standout end up reuniting. And that is regardless of whether the Hawks keep Jadeveon Clowney.
Next Tuesday is a day that looms fairly significant in this possible acquisition, as Griffen has until then to opt out of his contract. (H/T to Greg Haugsven for getting the date from contract expert Joel Corry.)
If he does, he would become a free agent March 18 and the Seahawks would be smart to put on a full-court press. If he doesn’t opt out, the cap-strapped Vikings ($11 million over) will have to decide what to do with his $13.9 million cap hit.
Griffen, who had a nice 2019 season after a mental health concern in 2018, has said he would like to stay in Minnesota — which makes it sound like he won’t void his deal. But he’s also the easiest path to the Vikings getting back into the black.
Griffen, 32, redid his deal last year so the Vikings probably are not going to go that route again. They could cut Linval Joseph ($10.5 million savings) and fan target Xavier Rhodes ($8.1 million), but Griffen ($13.1 million) offers the most cap relief from a single move. And that’s why it seems a strong bet that he will be available.
The gang at Seahawks Draft Blog recently debated an interesting two-fer trade idea: The Hawks sending their first-rounder to Minnesota for Griffen and Stefon Diggs — the assumption being that the Vikings would do the deal to add $18 million in cap space and get rid of the apparently disgruntled receiver.
But adding both would cost the Hawks $25 million — over half their projected cap room for signing veterans — and they have no reason to pay $11.5 million for a third receiver (especially one who might be Percy Harvin redux) when they need that money for another pass rusher. The addition of Greg Olsen also probably indicates adding Diggs is not really on John Schneider’s mind.
But a simple deal for Griffen would make sense, and Schneider might not have to pay that much — maybe no more than a fourth-rounder — to take his $13.5 million salary (and three remaining contract years) off the Vikings’ hands.
Griffen’s contract decision will come at the same time NFL teams are at the Combine. So, if Griffen declines to become a free agent, Schneider will be able to discuss a possible deal with Vikings GM Rick Spielman (they have made a handful of trades over the past few years — the Harvin debacle the most notable). No trade can be consummated until March 18 though.
If Griffen chooses free agency, Schneider will have to bid against other teams and hope the price stays in the mid-teens (remember, the Hawks should be budgeting around $32 million for two top pass rushers).
We’ll find out Tuesday which way the Hawks will need to try to get Griffen.