NFC powerhouses like the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers were sniffing around the former Minnesota Vikings stud defensive end as he shopped his wares amid the COVID-19-ruined offseason. The Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns were, too, considered legitimate suitors.
Suffice it to say, Dallas wasn’t alone in the slow-rolling Griffen sweepstakes.
They were, however, the only team with a secret recruiting weapon at their disposal: George Edwards, the ex-Minnesota defensive coordinator hired by the Cowboys earlier this year to be a senior assistant on Mike McCarthy’s staff.
To hear NFL Network’s Jane Slater tell it, he played a key role in Griffen’s addition. Slater relayed Thursday what she heard from an NFL source, that Edwards is a trusted ally for a sometimes-bombastic 32-year-old who has struggled with mental health issues.
“We have good people that have been around him and that he believes in,” the source said. “George Edwards one of them.”
Others who were privy to Griffen had nothing but complimentary remarks.
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In 2019, under Edwards’ tutelage, Minnesota finished sixth in points allowed, 13th against the run, 14th in total yards, and 15th against the pass. An active unit prone to forcing turnovers, they ranked third in the league in interceptions (17), fourth in pass breakups (98) and forced fumbles (19), and fifth in sacks (48).
Griffen was among the beneficiaries, tallying eight sacks and an interception across 15 games. His coach’s recommendation no doubt helped, but Dallas knew what they were getting; in their 28-24 home loss to the Vikings last November, Griffen stuffed the stat sheet with five tackles (two solo), four QB hits, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, and a half-sack.
Upon inking his one-year, $6 million contract, Griffen must pass the appropriate coronavirus test before joining his new teammates at training camp. Once there, he’ll begin assimilating his way into base and sub-packages as a hand-in-the-dirt pass-rusher, bookending DeMarcus Lawrence.
Griffen rounds out arguably the NFL’s deepest, and scariest, defensive line which features Lawrence and free-agent signings Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Aldon Smith — 241 career sacks between the five. The Cowboys also retained Tyrone Crawford (23 sacks), used third- and sixth-round draft picks on Neville Gallimore (nine) and Bradlee Anae (29.5), and hope to get back suspended DE Randy Gregory (seven).
The happiest man at The Star? George Edwards.
Griffen’s Number in Flux
The 2010 fourth-round pick will need a number in silver and blue. He wore No. 97 during his Vikings tenure, which is an issue as the Cowboys’ 2019 second-round pick, DL Trysten Hill, currently owns those digits.
Mike Fisher of Sports Illustrated reported Friday that Dallas has yet to determine Griffen’s number. Barring a trade with Hill or another player, he’ll have to settle for the Michael Bennett special — something in the 70s.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL