Philadelphia Eagles: Seth Joyner loves Everson Griffen but is he a fit?

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

If Twitter is of any indication, Seth Joyner is a huge fan of ex-Vikings DE Everson Griffen, should the Philadelphia Eagles feel the same way?

Seth Joyner is a living Philadelphia Eagles legend.

An eighth-round pick out of Texas-El Paso turned eight-year starter in the middle of some of the best defensive fronts in franchise history, there aren’t a lot of guys who know more about playing defense in the NFL than Joyner, despite having officially retired from the game more than two decades ago.

And if his personal Twitter is of any indication, Joyner really, really likes ex-Minnesota Vikings defensive end, Everson Griffen.

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The 100th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the USC product spent the first decade of his career in Minnesota, where he played defensive end for defensive-focused head coaches like Leslie Frazier and Mike Zimmer. Despite boasting a successful three-year career in University Park capped off with an eight sack season as the Trojans’ top edge rusher across from future Green Bay Packers draftee Nick Perry, Griffen didn’t become a full-time starter until his fifth-year in the league.

Call it a happy byproduct of accepting a five-year, $42.5 million extension, but from 2014 on, Griffen became one of the best edge rushers in the league.

In his Top 100 Players of 2018 profile, the Eagles’ own Lane Johnson described Griffen’s first step as scary, while others, like his now-former teammates Danielle Hunter, Case Keenum, and Andrew Sendejo (remember him?) lauded Griffen for his relentless motor and on-field leadership.

Those accolades may be modest.

Since becoming a full-time starter, Griffen has averaged 9.5 sacks a season as the Vikings’ edge rusher number one. Often lined up against the opposing team’s left tackle – though measuring in at 6-foot-3, 279 pounds, Griffen can play anywhere on the defensive line – Griffen’s lighting quick get off, mixed with a slew of perfected pass-rushing moves can cause even the most experienced linemen to reconsider things.

In a lot of ways, Griffen’s style of play is reminiscent of Philly’s favorite adoptive son Brandon Graham; that is, if Brandon Graham actually turned a few more of his pressures into sacks.

While Griffen hasn’t recorded double-digit sacks since 2017, his play in 2019 – 13 hurries, 13 QB hits, eight sacks, and 35 pressures on 848 defensive snaps – was good enough to award the 32-year-old with his third career trip to the Pro Bowl.

So, you may ask, if Griffen is still a really good player a decade into his career, why are the Vikings letting him go?

Easy: They’re broke.

Okay, technically, no team in the NFL is broke broke, but the team is right up against the salary cap and has had to let go of five defensive contributors to make way for a new two-year deal for everyone’s favorite good-not-great quarterback Kirk Cousins. Despite Zimmer having expressed a desire for his longest-tenured defensive player to return to Minnesota not one month prior, Griffen opted out of the final three (!) years of his four-year, $58 million extension to avoid having to once again restructure his deal.

Now free to sign wherever he’d like as the best defensive end on the open market not named Jadeveon Clowney, Griffen(‘s agent) will search the league far and wide for a new home; a home where his talents as a big-bodied 4-3 defensive end will be appreciated on a long-term deal.

Unfortunately, that probably won’t be in Philly.

I know, I know, talk about a bummer, right? But it’s true. Despite being a great fit in Jim Schwartz‘s defense, the Eagles just can’t afford to pay Griffen even close to the $13.9 million he was to be owed in 2020. After signing Javon Hargrave, Nate Sudfeld, Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod, and Darius Slay, the Eagles barely have enough money left to sign their draft class and maybe a few more small-dollar free agents on value contracts.

While Howie Roseman could conceivably move some contracts around to free up additional money, maybe by releasing Alshon Jeffery with a post-June 1st designation, that’s an awful lot of money to free up to sign a 32-year-old edge rusher to a multi-year deal.

Next. A Yannick Ngakoue trade is just too expensive. dark

No, barring a willingness to accept a contract far below his pay grade for a chance to play alongside college teammate Malik Jackson, it would appear that if Everson Griffen signs with an NFC East team in 2020, it will be with the Dallas Cowboys, who have reportedly already expressed interest in his services. Those, unfortunately, are the breaks of playing in a salary capped league, as the Minnesota Vikings will eagerly tell you. Despite Seth Joyner’s endorsement, the Philadelphia Eagles will likely have to look elsewhere if they want to upgrade their edge-rushing unit.