Now that Cam Newton has signed with the New England Patriots, the biggest-name player still on the free-agent market remains three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The Seahawks, Titans and Browns remain the NFL betting favorites to sign Clowney, although he reportedly would prefer to play for the Cowboys or Saints. Neither team has the cap room to sign him. What Clowney is also doing by not signing is holding up the market for another very good defensive end in former Minnesota Viking Everson Griffen.
Griffen could be a wise alternative for all those clubs that lose out on Clowney, who has said he plans to sign fairly soon. No question that Griffen won't cost nearly as much despite being arguably as good a player as the former No. 1 overall pick.
Obviously, no one can predict a pandemic, but Griffen clearly made a mistake in February by voiding the final three years of his four-year, $58 million contract with Minnesota to enter free agency. Had Griffen, who would have counted $13.9 million against the Vikings' cap in 2020, known what was going to happen with the coronavirus, there's no way he would have done that.
Griffen returned to the Vikings on a restructured deal last year with two contractual benchmarks that would allow him to opt-out after the season: 6.5 sacks and playing 57 percent of the team's defensive snaps. Griffen cleared those easily with eight sacks and 78 percent of snaps played.
While Clowney has never reached double-digit sacks in his career, Griffen has done so three times and his eight sacks last year were five more than Clowney had. Griffen has played at least 15 regular-season games eight times, including in 2019 when he was named to his fourth Pro Bowl. Clowney has played at least 15 games just twice and missed three games last year.
The reason Clowney will get paid more is the fact he's 27 and Griffen will be 33 in December. Griffen also had a bizarre incident in 2018 with police at a Minnesota hotel that led Griffen to undergo a mental health evaluation and live in a sober house for three months to deal with mental health issues. He says those issues are all behind him and there have been no problems since.
Griffen has been linked to multiple teams, including the Browns, Seahawks and Cardinals as well as re-signing with the Vikings, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft out of USC. Griffen played for current Seattle coach Pete Carroll at Southern Cal.
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