When Anthony Barr broke the Vikings, and Jets, internet by spurning the Jets’ much larger offer for his services in 2019 and beyond (sound familiar? *Cough* Cousins *Cough*) earlier this week, it was widely thought that Everson Griffen was involved heavily in that move. Griffen’s role as one of the main leaders/mentors of this Vikings defense, and his influence over someone like Barr, who is also a defensive captain, as well as the thought that the re-signing of Barr might mean the end of Griffen’s tenure in Minnesota if he didn’t restructure his contract, placed him in the middle of the whole business. It was just reported by Ian Rappoport that Griffen and the Vikings did reach an agreement to restructure and keep Griffen on the Vikings, a move that has gigantic implications for… Everything! So let’s jump right in!
First, This move, alongside the Barr bombshell, has helped salvage the Vikings start to free agency. When it comes to covering any sports team, perhaps it comes as no surprise that things you write or record can end up not aging that well. Whether it’s making bold predictions or venting about the state of the team at that very moment, the narratives and realities surrounding sports teams can be very fluid and because of that, you might end up posting something that can end up being pretty out of date pretty quickly. Case in point, we recorded the most recent episode of ‘Morning Joes’, with special guest host Kirby O’Connor, who is the managing editor of purplePTSD.com and the host of ‘Vikings on the Clock’ the draft centric show that we host on purpleTERRITORYradio.com, on Tuesday morning. That show was posted around 11 a.m. Tuesday morning (after being recorded at 8 a.m.) and at the time of the recording it was “common knowledge” that Anthony Barr had agreed to terms with the Jets and that the Vikings had under five million dollars in cap space, a little less than they had after releasing Andrew Sendejo and Mike Remmers, while also signing Shamar Stephen.
I vented, hard, that I was a bit (or very) concerned about where the Vikings were in terms of money and bodies at the guard positions on the offensive line and that I thought that the Vikings, who only had one team in the league with less money than them, basically had a terrible start to free agency that wasn’t going to get much better. I came to that conclusion considering that the market for guards was thin and that some of the popular names that the Vikings could trade for, like Kevin Zeitler, were already gone. I recalled a popular talker on Vikings Twitter towards the end of the 2018-19 season and that was “Of the three Vikings players, which of the following two would you keep between Trae Waynes, Sheldon Richardson, and Anthony Barr?”. I mused on the show that all three could end up being gone by the start of the 2019-20 season and that you could throw a fourth into that, Everson Griffen, and that that was both terrible and horrifying.
Now, Sheldon Richardson is gone, but that’s not the end of the world as the Vikings basically rented him for one season. The good news is that Barr is back which, while I’m not a huge Barr guy, removes a need to be filled in the upcoming draft. Keeping Barr, Griffen, and Waynes should keep the focus on the offensive line. Though Zimmer and Spielman can always get distracted by some defensive player anyway, a phenomenon I thought that he’d/they’d FINALLY ignore this off-season, until the Stephen signing re-ignited those fears. Keeping Griffen accomplishes the same feat and while the terms, as of the writing of this article, haven’t been released, it’s clear that the Vikings needed to free up money for the Barr move as well as for the rest of the off-season including the draft, especially with Kyle Rudolph’s contract apparently being off-limits for restructuring.
Considering the season that Griffen had, while out of his control in terms of mental health being a disease, it’s not surprising that the Vikings would come to him for a restructure. Considering that NFL contracts aren’t really worth the paper they’re printed on and teams do things like this constantly. It’s a great sign that Griffen was open to this process as it does seem that despite all the negative press surrounding Zimmer’s “problems” with some of his players, Barr specifically, these guys apparently want to play for Zimmer and the Vikings either because they love playing with one another or because they believe that they’re very close to something very special.
It’s safe to say that regardless of the WHY, the reality of the WHAT is that the off-season and free agency has done an about face from a potential disaster to one that is very positive. With some other options still being on the table, and the draft coming at the end of next month, I for one am excited once again for the 2019 season. That positive attitude stems from the selflessness that these players have shown by either taking less money to stay in Minnesota instead of leaving via free agency, or less money to stay in Minnesota by changing the terms of their contract. Although less money is better than the no money that comes from being cut, there’d definitely be a market for the services of someone like Griffen who, when healthy, has the potential to break records. That’s a good sign on multiple levels and shows that these guys are all-in for 2019. I’m happy to say that I am too, but as we know, that could change at any minute.